Democrats may win more seats in the Utah State Legislature

Posted at 6:49 PM, Nov 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-10 00:17:10-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- If there is a small ray of sunshine for Utah Democrats coming out of election night, it's the slight gains the minority party may make in the Utah State Legislature.

The Utah Republican Party reestablished its dominance over the state's political landscape, winning all statewide races. However, election results for Utah House of Representatives seats showed some potential victories for Democrats, who only have 12 seats there.

"I've joked with our Minority Leader Brian King they don't have anywhere to go but up," said House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper.

Election totals from Salt Lake County are not expected to be released until Thursday afternoon, but the initial results show some close races. In West Valley City, Elizabeth Weight holds a slight lead over Republican incumbent Rep. Sophia DiCaro.


Democrat Suzanne Harrison holds a lead of only a couple hundred votes over stalwart Capitol Hill conservative Rep. LaVar Christensen in Draper.


In Taylorsville, Karen Kwan appears on track to win against Republican Macade Jensen.


In Midvale, Democrat Christine Passey has a narrow lead over Bruce Cutler, her Republican challenger.


But Republicans appear to be taking some Democrats' seats as well. Rep. Brad King may lose his Price-area seat to Republican Christine Watkins, who used to be a Democrat until she switched parties to run for her old seat in the legislature.


Rep. Craig Hall has a lead over his Democratic challenger in their West Valley City district.


House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said he was watching the election returns to see if Democrats' leads hold. King said the races were all tight, and he hoped Democrats could flip some seats.

"I'm agnostic at this point," he told FOX 13. "I'll believe it when I see it."

Democrats could also control more of Salt Lake County government. Mayor Ben McAdams won re-election over his challenger, Dave Robinson, and Catherine Kanter had a 2-point lead over incumbent GOP county councilman Richard Snelgrove.

"These are Democrat districts our Republican colleagues have won and are representing, so there may be a give somewhere," Hughes said. "But I'm not willing to give up a single seat."