Wilde and Brown trade razor-thin leads on Friday
When the first votes were counted on Tuesday, Logan Wilde, in his first campaign for a state office, had a surprising 30 percentage point lead over longtime incumbent Mel Brown in the Republican primary election in District 53 of the Utah House of Representatives.
But by 10 p.m., thanks in large part to the primary-day ballots from Summit County, that margin had shrunk to just 64 votes, and Wilde, a member of the Morgan County Commission, was careful not to declare a victory.
“There may be a few ballots left out there,” he said.
That was wise because when the county clerks offices around the district (which includes portions of Duchesne, Rich, Morgan, Daggett counties and eastern Summit County) began tallying up a batch of mail-in ballots on Friday, Brown pulled ahead – briefly.
The Summit County Clerk’s Office counted 305 ballots on Friday. Of those 188 were for Brown and 117 were for Wilde. That turned the tide in Brown’s favor by a razor-thin margin, just seven votes, leaving the door open for Wilde to call for a recount.
Reached by telephone at midday on Friday, Wilde said he was nervous but not ready to demand a recount.
Brown, who lives in Hoytsville, attributed the narrow margin between himself and Wilde to low voter turnout in Summit County that, he said, accounts for 45 percent of the registered voters in the district.
Brown, was also careful not to count his winnings. “I feel it’s probably not over yet. I won’t react until I find out for sure,” he said
The veteran politician’s caution was justified. By Friday afternoon the two had traded leads again. When the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s office finished adding in the clerks’ reports. Wilde had regained the lead. Still, the margin was miniscule for a multicounty race.
As of Friday, the race for the Republican nomination for House District 53 stood at 2,463 votes for Wilde and 2,456 votes for Brown.
The Lt. Governor’s office will run reports again on Tuesday, July 5 and Friday, July 8. But the count will not be finalized until the official canvass on July 12 at which point, if the margin is fewer than 12 votes, either candidate may still request a recount.
The winner of the Republican pnomination will face Democrat Cole Capener in the November General Election.
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