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Utah lawmaker launches write-in campaign to keep his seat

Posted at 5:04 PM, Aug 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-30 21:20:55-04

LAYTON, Utah  — Rep. Steve Handy is launching a write-in campaign for his re-election, he confirmed to FOX 13 News ahead of a campaign kickoff event.

Rep. Handy, R-Layton, lost at the Davis County Republican Party convention in March to Trevor Lee. He opted not to gather signatures to secure a spot on the ballot. Since then, Rep. Handy said, he has been urged to run to remain in office.

In an interview with FOX 13 News on Tuesday, Rep. Handy said he believed his opponent's views did not represent those of constituents in House District 16, which includes Layton, Clearfield, Hill Air Force Base and a part of South Weber.

"I have a track record, I have relationships, I have a proven ability to get things done," Rep. Handy said. "I think that’s why people sent me to Capitol Hill some years ago to do to get things done and I just want to remind them that I'm going to continue to get things done for you, I’m going to continue to listen to you. All you have to do is know how to spell Steve Handy. Pretty easy."

Rep. Handy has a reputation on Utah's Capitol Hill for being a more moderate lawmaker who has sponsored bipartisan bills in the legislature on transportation, public education and air quality. He has co-chaired the Clean Air Caucus, which is a bipartisan group of lawmakers who run air quality legislation.

A write-in campaign is notoriously difficult, but Rep. Handy said he believed it was not impossible. Under Utah law, voters can write in a name on a ballot, but can't use things like stickers.

Rep. Handy said he was planning to launch an extensive campaign to appeal to the approximately 21,000 voters registered in House District 16. Rep. Handy said he has spent the past few months fundraising and already has $50,000 with more commitments for funding. He said he has also received support from colleagues in the Utah State Legislature and community members in Davis County.

"We are organized, prepared and committed to work for every vote," Rep. Handy said.

In a statement to FOX 13 News, Lee said Rep. Handy isn't accepting the results of the convention.

"My opponent can’t accept the results of the election, but the fact is Utahns are struggling with high inflation. My opponent has a record of voting to raise taxes on gas and groceries. Our district needs a representative with a fresh perspective that is focused on putting their needs ahead of special interests. As the Republican Nominee for House District 16, I will continue to listen and prepare to take action on important issues to our district," he said.

Rep. Handy has threatened to run a write-in campaign for some time and the race has already been a little heated. Lee was criticized for comments he made about fellow Republicans and a slur about transgender people on a podcast, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Lee's remarks were also condemned by the Davis County Republican Party, the Tribune reported, and he later apologized. Rep. Handy ended up apologizing for comments about Lee and bringing up white supremacy, the Ogden Standard-Examiner reported.

"I wish Rep. Handy good luck on his campaign," Libertarian candidate Brent Zimmerman said in an email to FOX 13 News. "I hope this race is a reminder to voters that they often have other choices besides just the Republican or Democratic nominees."

There is no Democratic candidate in that race.