Summit County girds for Mitt Romney versus Jenny Wilson
Mitt Romney routed his opponent in the Republican Senate primary election on Tuesday, winning the Summit County and statewide votes by wide margins as he advances as the favorite on Election Day in November in the heavily GOP state.
Romney more than doubled the vote total of state legislator Mike Kennedy in Summit County and the state, according to the preliminary numbers released on Tuesday night. Romney took 71.5 percent of the statewide vote while he won 68.9 percent of the vote in Summit County. The results included the ballots that had been received in the mail by Tuesday or put in drop boxes before 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The final numbers will tallied with the additional mailed-in ballots, the ballots left in drop boxes between the 3 p.m. collection and 8 p.m. close of voting and ballots cast at voting centers.
The primary win puts Romney on the November ballot against Democrat Jenny Wilson, a member of the Salt Lake County Council. Both of them are seen as top-tier candidates as Romney’s results on Tuesday proved he is formidable even after serving as the governor of another state, Massachusetts, and Wilson herself as a Salt Lake County Councilor holds one of the most prominent elected offices in the state.
It seems likely Romney and Wilson will make stops in Summit County during the fall election season. Romney, who appeared in Kamas days before the primary, has longtime ties to the Park City area as a vacation homeowner and as the leader of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Wilson, meanwhile, will likely want to solidify her support in one of the state’s reliably Democratic areas.
The Summit County political parties are preparing for the Senate and House of Representatives campaigns alongside the Statehouse contests. They will likely coordinate any appearances by the candidates in the county and will attempt to encourage voter turnout as the voting in the fall nears.
Brantley Eason, the chair of the Summit County Republican Party, said he wants Romney to make another appearance in Summit County. The local party will “back our candidate full force,” Eason said.
“Whatever the campaign needs, we’re here to help,” he said.
Eason said the results on Tuesday were not surprising, noting Romney led in polling, has a large base of supporters and successfully raised campaign funds. Eason declined to disclose which candidate received his vote.
Eason said he wants the Romney campaign to stress issues like conservative budgeting and states’ rights, two issues the candidate pressed during the primary season. He also wants him to talk to voters about “what’s best for Utah” as he mounts the statewide campaign.
“He’s got to come out to rural areas,” Eason said, adding. “He’s got to be in the big counties as well.”
He projected Romney will win on Election Day. Romney “could see a big win,” Eason said, basing the statement on the results on Tuesday.
“Romney’s in a good position to win in November, but he can’t take the race for granted,” Eason said.
The leader of the Summit County Democratic Party also watched the results of the contest between Romney and Kennedy. Party chair Cheryl Butler said it was “no surprise” Romney won the primary.
“Mitt Romney has name recognition like no one we’ve seen in a very long time,” Butler said.
She said Wilson needs to stress her Utah roots and successfully argue she is the best fit for the Senate seat. It will be a “tough race” for Wilson, Butler said.
“I think she can win. … But she’s got to really work hard,” she said.
Democratic voters on Tuesday, meanwhile, selected Lee Castillo as the party’s candidate in the 1st Congressional District. He beat Kurt Weiland in Summit County as well. Castillo took 56.9 percent of the district-wide vote. The Summit County vote largely mirrored the results throughout the district as Castillo won 55.9 percent of the county tally.
Castillo advances to the Election Day ballot against the incumbent congressman, Republican Rep. Rob Bishop. The Democrat will be seen as a major underdog in November against a congressman who has consistently dispatched his opponents by wide margins.
Eason projected a Bishop win in November. Butler, though, said Castillo has “excellent chances” to win. She said Castillo appeals to younger voters and Latinos, noting that some of his supporters are “disenfranchised” with the incumbent.
“A lot of people who feel left out,” Butler said about Castillo’s voter base. “Lee will bring out a lot of voters that may not have chosen to vote otherwise.”
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