UPDATED: Winterton, Gallagher to face off in Senate District 26 election
- Jack Rubin: 1,336, 63.4 percent
- Ronald Winterton: 587, 27.9 percent
- Brian Gorum: 183, 8.7 percent
- Eileen Gallagher: 675, 70.5 percent
- Pat Vaughn: 283, 29.5 percent
Republican Ronald Winterton and Democrat Eileen Gallagher are set to face off for the Utah Senate District 26 seat after they were victorious in party primaries, according to preliminary results from Tuesday’s elections.
Winterton, a Duchesne County commissioner from Roosevelt, earned the GOP nod by beating out Brian Gorum, an insurance salesman from Vernal, and Parkite Jack Rubin with 43.3 percent of the vote. Gorum garnered 33.8 percent, and Rubin earned 22.9 percent.
Winterton was unavailable for an interview despite multiple requests.
As the Republican nominee in a heavily conservative district, Winterton will be favored to win the seat held by Kevin Van Tassell, who announced his retirement earlier this year after a four-term career on Capitol Hill.
While Rubin gathered the fewest votes overall, the Wasatch Back showed up for the Park City candidate. In Summit County, Rubin trounced Gorum and Winterton with 63.1 percent of the vote, and he earned 45.9 percent of the vote in Wasatch County to narrowly top Winterton.
Rubin said that, while he would have liked to have seen a larger overall voter turnout, he doesn’t regret undertaking his campaign, aiming to represent the Wasatch Back and talking to the district’s constituents.
“(My campaign) left nothing in the bag, between me, my wife, and our friends and supporters,” Rubin said. “It was still a great learning experience.”
In the Democratic primary, Parkite Eileen Gallagher advanced past Midway resident Pat Vaughn to take on Winterton in the general election. Gallagher garnered 62 percent of the vote to Vaughn’s 38. Gallagher took 70 percent of the vote in Summit County.
Gallagher, a pediatric physician, saw strong support throughout the district, besting Vaughn in each of its five counties. Gallagher praised the voter turnout, which totaled about 2,000 ballots, and said she’s ready to square off against a candidate from the Uintah Basin.
“I’m really excited to have seen such great voter turnout,” Gallagher said. “I need, at this point, for the west side (of the district) to step up and help me out; that we get representation for the whole district.”
Vaughn, who will go back to her job as a human resources consultant, said she’s finished running for office and that district Democrats shouldn’t look at the upcoming race as a lost cause.
“This will be a very challenging election going forward, but it is doable when you look at the high number of unaffiliated voters,” Vaughn said. “This race is not over, by sheer numbers.”
For Gallagher to stand a chance in November, though, she’ll need strong Democratic turnout. The state reported about that 2,100 ballots were cast in the primary, almost half of which came from Summit County. GOP turnout, meanwhile, dwarfed the Democrats, with 11,000 votes cast district-wide.
For her part, Gallagher was readying for the general election campaign. She criticized what she called a lack of appearances by Winterton on the west side of the district, saying she would place more of an emphasis than Winterton on representing the entire district rather than one region within it.
“What I bring is a voice from outside of politics that has become known throughout Utah as not necessarily being open to district-wide thinking,” Gallagher said. “If we are going to address transportation and infrastructure issues, we can’t have a candidate who is only loyal to their base and their county. I offer a district-wide loyalty, not a county-wide loyalty.”
Also in the general election picture is Cathy Callow-Heusser, a Park City resident and United Utah Party candidate. Callow-Heusser, a former Republican, did not have to clear a primary hurdle as she was the party’s sole candidate in the race.
The general election is set to be held on Nov. 8.
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