Ure takes a beating at convention
May 17, 2006
Rep. David Ure, a Republican from Kamas, thought replacing retiring state Sen. Beverly Evans in Senate District 26 would be difficult. Apparently, he was right.
During the Republican state nominating convention Saturday, political newcomer Kevin Van Tassell, a banker from the Uintah Basin, forced Ure into a June 27 primary race.
"Credit goes to Kevin Van Tassell for doing so well," said Jeff Hartley, executive director of the Utah Republican Party.
Ure is seen as a political insider having served nearly seven consecutive terms in the state House of Representatives, however, that clout was likely trumped Saturday by a group of delegates made up primarily of voters from counties like Uintah, Duchesne and Daggett.
"Dave Ure’s not afraid to take on a tough challenge," Hartley said. "He knew the numbers going into it, he can do that math and knows the district pretty well."
A primary would have been avoided had at least 60 percent of the delegates supported one candidate. Van Tassell received the most votes, but was about four percentage points shy of defeating Ure at the convention.
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Ure received 44 percent of the votes.
"It’s all going to come down to how many Republicans come out to vote," Van Tassell said during a telephone interview Tuesday.
"[Ure] has an automatic disadvantage there because 60 percent of his voters, by population, don’t live in the part of the district he lives in," Hartley said. "Those folks in the Uintah Basin, they want somebody from the Uintah Basin & their issues are unique to that area, they don’t share much in common with Park City."
In the House, Ure represents residents in Daggett, Summit, Morgan, Rich and Wasatch counties.
Most of Evans’ constituents, however, live in eastern Utah, Hartley said, adding that roughly 40 percent live in Wasatch and Summit counties.
"The issues that are important to people in Park City are often quite different than the issues that the folks in the Uintah Basin care about," Hartley said.
But as a conservative lawmaker from rural Utah, Ure successfully represents many liberals in Park City, he added.
"The reality is that he can connect with a lot of different people," Hartley said. "He has respect in Park City where the issues are not the same as a dairy farmer would have himself."
Meanwhile, relatively moderate Republicans like Ure can poll better among the electorate in Utah than delegates, who are often more right wing.
"The delegates are more active, they’re more aware, they’re more aggressive in their politics," Hartley said. "I don’t know if Dave has a broader appeal to the primary voter."
No senators currently hail from Summit County. Allen Christensen, a Republican from North Ogden, represents much of eastern Summit County in Senate District 19. Christensen’s seat is not on the ballot in 2006.
Ure was not available to comment for this story.
He recently told The Park Record the Senate seat appealed to him because senators serve four-year terms rather than the two-year terms of representatives. He said, with fewer senators, a smaller number of votes are needed for a bill to pass and that senators hold power to confirm gubernatorial appointments, like judges, the state’s Transportation Commission and the state’s Board of Regents.
Ure irked his constituents in 2000 when he unsuccessfully sponsored a bill for Questar that made it easier for utilities to raise rates and eliminated one of the states’ consumer watchdogs.
Twice Ure has vied for the powerful speaker of House position. Former Rep. Marty Stephens, a Republican from Weber County, defeated Ure for the top leadership position in 2002. In 2004, House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, beat out Ure to lead the legislative body.
Ure says voters should send him to the Senate because he is the candidate with the most experience on Capitol Hill.
"It’ll be interesting to see which part of the state turns out to vote," Hartley said. "If Representative Ure works hard to get his folks to the polls, and we don’t have a great turnout out in the (Uintah) Basin, then he could win."