At a glance
Electoral votes: 5 | Solid McCain
R Bennett R Hatch
Utah State House:
Utah State Senate:
Presidential election history:
As much of the West turns a shade bluer, staunchly Republican Utah -- Bush’s strongest state in both the 2000 and the 2004 elections -- may be taking on an even deeper cherry red. Take, for instance, the recent upset in the 3rd Congressional District’s Republican primary. Young upstart Jason Chaffetz beat heavily favored Chris Cannon, a six-term incumbent and one of the nation’s most conservative congressmen. Chaffetz is a relative newcomer to Mormonism as well as to conservatism — in college he was co-chairman of Michael Dukakis’ failed presidential campaign — and he has all the passion of convert. Considered a longshot, he won because he’s even more conservative than Cannon, especially on illegal immigration. (Cannon supports a guest worker program. Chaffetz says he wants to deport all illegal immigrants and stop granting automatic citizenship to children born here whose parents are illegal.) The fact that you can count the Democrats in the district on one hand makes Chaffetz the overwhelming favorite in November.
The other congressional districts are no contest, even the 2nd, where Democrat Jim Matheson holds court. One of the most conservative Democrats in Congress and son of popular former governor Scott Matheson, he’ll likely hold onto his seat.
Republicans have held a solid majority in the state Legislature since the mid-1970s, and polls show that most Utahns plan to vote Republican in their local contests. But in Utah’s most closely watched state House race — District 49 in suburban Salt Lake County — a Dem just might unseat the Republican speaker of the House. Amtrak conductor Jay Seegmiller is making his third attempt to quash incumbent Greg Curtis. Curtis has been the most successful fund-raiser in this year’s state races, with some $330,000 at his disposal. But in 2006, Curtis beat Seegmiller by only 20 votes. And as a strong backer of a controversial universal school voucher program that was resoundingly defeated by Utah voters last year, Curtis isn’t as popular as he once was.