Voters in Rhode Island and Utah headed to the polls yesterday for special election primaries. Given that the seat being filled in the former is D+12 and the seat being filled in the latter is R+11, yesterday's primaries are the de facto general elections.
We wrote about the Rhode Island contest last week, and noted it had turned into an ugly struggle between various Democratic interest groups. The three main candidates on that side of the aisle were Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (Latina), Gabe Amo (Black), and former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg (progressive). Once the votes were counted, it wasn't close. The winner, and surely the next representative from RI-01, is Amo. He took 32.5% of the vote, as compared to 24.9% for Regunberg. It would seem that the Latina vote was split, as the third-place finisher was actually Sandra Cano, who is Colombian and claimed 13.9% of the ballots. Matos, who is Dominican, got just 8%. That is not a great showing for someone who should have pretty good name recognition from having won and held statewide office. Clearly the voters were not happy about the fraudulent signatures on Matos' campaign nomination paperwork.
Now that Amo is the nominee, he just has to dispatch Republican Gerry Leonard, whose pitch is that he served for 30 years in the Marine Corps. Impressive, but not likely to carry an election in a deep-blue district. As an indication of where the enthusiasm is, the Democratic side of the contest saw about 40,000 votes cast yesterday, whereas the Republican side saw... 4,000.
We also wrote about the election in Utah, where the main question was whether the very moderate Becky Edwards (R), who dislikes Donald Trump and who voted for Joe Biden in 2020, could claim a plurality of votes if the more conservative candidates split the staunch conservative vote.
And now, allow us to pause for a moment for story time. On one occasion, about 10 years ago, (Z) was returning to California from some east coast destination, and had a connecting flight in Salt Lake City that was set to depart around 8:00 in the evening. The departure gate got moved without any announcement, and by the time (Z) had figured it out, the plane was in the air. Utah absolutely shuts down around 10:00, and so there were no more flights, no way to get from the airport to a hotel, and nothing could be done except to spend the night loitering in SLC.
We note this because the Utah results rolled in pretty steadily last night until 10:00 p.m. and then... ground to a halt. So, we can't tell you who won. Celeste Maloy, who is pretty conservative, is currently leading, with 38.0% of the vote. The moderate Edwards has 36.0%, and the very conservative Bruce Hough is out of luck, with just 26%.
At the moment, 80% of the vote is in, and Maloy has a lead of 1,317 votes. If current trends hold, she'll add 1,320 votes to her lead thanks to the largest county in UT-02 (Washington) and about 1,000 more thanks to the 10 small counties in the district. So, that's around 3,500 votes. Edwards, on the other hand, would pick up 1,600 in the part of Salt Lake City that's in UT-02, and another 750 in Davis county. That's around 2,350 votes. Add it up, and it looks like Maloy will be your winner by 1,000 votes, but it's close enough that you can't be sure. Presumably, the Utahns will get right back to work counting votes at 6:00 in the morning. At least, that's when planes start taking off again.
Whichever Republican wins the Utah primary, they will go on to face, and almost certainly defeat, state Sen. Kathleen Riebe (D), who was chosen at the convention of the Utah Democratic Party. Both the Utah general election and the Rhode Island general election will take place on Election Day, which is Nov. 7. (Z)