Republican delegates pushed Sen. Orrin Hatch into a primary with former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist by a margin of less than 50 votes at the state party convention. Hatch had 59 percent of delegate votes and needed 60. The two will face head-to-head in June to see who will run against Democrat Scott Howell, who defeated his intraparty challenger Pete Ashdown in the Democratic convention.
Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson ran unopposed for the 4th Congressional District and he will face rising Republican star Mia Love, who pulled an upset over the presumed nominee former state Rep. Carl Wimmer. If elected, Love, the current mayor of Saratoga Springs, would be the only black Republican woman in Congress.
“Today we have an opportunity to do something very special. Today we can start breaking a pattern,” Love told delegates. “Today we can start bringing Jim Matheson home. Elect one nominee today, so we can take this fight to Jim Matheson tomorrow.”
Gov. Gary Herbert avoided a primary runoff with former state Rep. Morgan Philpot, although it did take two ballots from him to seal the nomination. Herbert and Lt. Gov. Greg Bell will face Democrats Peter Cooke and his newly selected running mate Vince Rampton for the governor’s office.
“We are idealistic about the future of our state,” Cooke told Democratic delegates. “But have no illusion about the task in front of us.”
Only the 1st Congressional District candidates Donna McAleer and Ryan Combe will face a primary for the chance to face off against Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Bishop. House Rep. Jay Seegmiller will be the party’s nominee for the 2nd Congressional District and he will face Republican challenger Chris Stewart. In the 3rd District, Salt Lake City Councilman Soren Simonsen will face incumbent Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz.