Crucial choices will be made on both the Republican and Democratic ballots. The U.S. Senate race, for instance, will likely be decided Tuesday with November's General Election serving as no more than a rubber stamp for whoever wins the Republican nomination.
In that contest, longtime Republican U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch is facing a stiff challenge from Utah Sen. Dan Liljenquist who stands considerably to Hatch's right on the political spectrum. The showdown is an important litmus test for Utah's Republican Party which has been in throes of an identity crisis ever since former U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) was summarily tossed out of the party's 2010 state convention by a small but growing right-wing faction. To Bennett's credit, even in the face of that vicious campaign, he did not compromise his integrity by kowtowing to the right.
Hatch has tried to avoid the same fate by adopting a more rigid conservative platform one that, unfortunately, has detracted from his legacy of independence and across-party-lines cooperation. Nevertheless, moderate Republican voters who sleep through the primary next week may wake up to find their party has taken a sharp turn to the right.
On the Democratic ballot, Summit County voters have the rare opportunity to send one of their own to Congress. Pinebrook resident Donna McAleer is running against Ryan Combe of South Ogden to become the Democrats' nominee to represent Utah's First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The winner will face incumbent Republican Rep. Rob Bishop in November.
McAleer is articulate, has an impressive background in both the military and nonprofit sectors, and espouses the environmental ethics that many Summit County residents hold dear. More than Combe, whose background is less diverse, McAleer would provide a strong confident voice for Utah's under-represented Democrats. And while toppling Bishop in November may be a long shot, in a presidential year with a strong Democratic incumbent, McAleer, who has shown boundless energy and enthusiasm for the campaign, just might be able to break through the Utah Republican barrier.
Local Republicans and Democrats have county-level primaries to decide as well. With candidates vying to gain spots on the November ballot in the race for a seat on the Summit County Council, citizens should plan to make their mark on the future by voting on Tuesday.