Republican Kohler will represent Park City in Statehouse after District 54 victory
Republican Mike Kohler has won the District 54 race for the Utah House of Representatives, retaining a seat for the GOP that Democrats had hoped to flip after a narrow contest two years ago.
According to updated results released Saturday, Kohler leads Democrat Meaghan Miller by more than 1,800 votes, 13,339 to 11,490, and there do not appear to be enough outstanding ballots to alter the outcome.
Kohler took a significant lead on Election Day, but there were roughly 8,000 ballots unprocessed in Summit County due to the Clerk’s Office entering quarantine after a staff member’s exposure to COVID-19.
The number of outstanding votes, coupled with the strong support Miller received in the portions of the district within Summit County — Park City and much of the Snyderville Basin — left open the possibility that she could overtake Kohler, though it was unclear how many of the 8,000 ballots were from District 54 voters.
The totals released Saturday, which included much of the remaining vote in Summit County, made it apparent that Kohler would retain his significant lead. The bulk of ballots that are yet to be counted are from Wasatch County, where Kohler is outperforming Miller by a nearly two-to-one margin.
On Monday, Kohler stopped short of declaring victory but acknowledged his overwhelming lead. He said that, once results are finalized, he will turn his attention to preparing for the upcoming legislative session scheduled to begin in January.
“At this point, I’m just trying to get into the mix … with legislators that are already there,” he said. “I don’t have anything right now that I’m expecting to open a bill file on.”
Miller conceded the race and said it was clear after Election Day that her chances were slim.
“At this point, I shift to being a constituent and holding Mike Kohler accountable to the promises that he made,” she said, adding that she has not ruled out running for the seat a third time in 2022.
The District 54 race was seen as the most competitive of the four contests for Statehouse seats that include portions of Summit County.
Democrats have long wanted to capture the seat because Park City is one of the most left-leaning areas in the state. They were optimistic that they could finally flip the seat after Miller lost by fewer than 200 votes in 2018, and that hope grew stronger when the incumbent, Republican Tim Quinn, opted not to seek reelection.
But overwhelming support in Wasatch County, which leans Republican and contains the majority of voters in the district, catapulted Kohler to a relatively decisive victory even as Miller bested him in Summit County.
The distinct split along the district’s geographic lines was expected going into Election Day. Miller is a former Parkite who remains active in the Park City community as executive director of the nonprofit EATS PC. Kohler, meanwhile, is a former Wasatch County councilor and acknowledged entering the race as a “household name” in Wasatch County.
He said he intends to focus in the coming months on developing relationships in the Park City area.
“I got probably more votes from Park City than I expected,” he said. “I want to represent them well. It’s going to take a lot of communication on my part with leadership and other groups over there to do that.”
Summit County Deputy Clerk Kellie Robinson said 460 provisional ballots remain countywide, though not all are within District 54. The Wasatch County Clerk-Auditor Office indicated last week that it had about 1,500 votes left to tally.
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The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission heard overwhelmingly negative feedback on a proposal to build a 27-building apartment complex near the Highland Estates neighborhood.