Jun 24, 2022 - Politics

Five races to watch in Utah's primary election

Three people debating behind podium.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, right, speaks as former state lawmaker Becky Edwards, left, and political staffer Ally Isom, center, looks on during a Republican primary debate Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in Draper, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Utah's primary election is on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The winners of the June 28 election will move on to compete this November.

Of note: Mail-in ballots need to be postmarked by Monday, June 27, or dropped off at a ballot drop box before 8pm on Election Day.

Here are some of the races to watch:

1. U.S. Senate

The incumbent, Mike Lee, will face two Republican challengers, Becky Edwards and Ally Isom.

  • Edwards formerly served as a Republican in the Utah House of Representatives from 2009 to 2018.
  • Isom, a former Kaysville City councilmember, worked as the deputy chief of staff and communications director for former Gov. Gary Herbert.

The intrigue: The winner of the primary will compete in November against Independent candidate Evan McMullin, who is being backed by the Utah Democratic Party.

  • In a historic move, Democratic delegates voted in April to support McMullin over Democrat Kael Weston in hopes to increase the odds of defeating a Republican on the November ballot.

Between the lines: Lee is seeking a third term in Congress. He has received backlash in recent months in connection with text messages he sent former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows over challenging the 2020 presidential election results.

  • "For some segments of Utah voters and even some within the Republican Party, those [texts] have raised a little bit of concern," Damon Cann, a political science professor at Utah State University, said.
2. Utah County Attorney

David Leavitt is running for re-election against Jeff Gray to be the GOP nominee.

Gray has picked up endorsements from Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, the Daily Herald reported.

  • Flashback: Reyes and Leavitt ran against each other during the 2020 Republican primary for state Attorney General.

The intrigue: Earlier this month, Leavitt called on Smith to resign after claiming the Utah County sheriff tried to implicate him in a "ritualistic child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking" case ahead of the primary, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

3. House District 4

Incumbent Rep. Kera Birkeland (R-Morgan) faces opponent Raelene Blocker.

  • Blocker's experience includes serving on school community councils, medical boards and volunteering as an emergency medical technician and firefighter, according to her campaign biography.

The intrigue: Birkeland entered the national spotlight after co-sponsoring a controversial bill to ban transgender girls from competing in school sports matching their gender identity.

  • The ACLU of Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Utah families over the ban.
4. Senate District 9

Incumbent Sen. Derek Kitchen (D-Salt Lake City) is running against Jennifer Plumb.

The intrigue: This is the second time the two candidates face off after competing against each other in the 2018 Democratic primary for what was used to be Senate District 2.

5. Senate District 13

Incumbent Sen. Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake City) is running against Nate Blouin.

  • Blouin's priorities include clean air and affordable housing and he has collected the endorsement of o2 Utah, an environmental nonprofit.

The intrigue: Until now, Davis has never had to compete with a Democratic primary opponent, KUER reported.

  • Last year a former legislative staffer accused Davis of inappropriate behavior, according to KUTV.
  • Davis later released a statement apologizing "for any injury she felt as a staff member."

What's next: Polling locations are open from 7am to 8pm on June 28. If you're in line by 8pm, you can vote. You can find your polling location here.

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