|This is famously Mormon country and, in political circles, famously conservative. In presidential elections, Utah routinely battles states like Idaho, Oklahoma, and Wyoming for the title
of reddest state in the nation. Recent history also shows total partisan uniformity among Utah's governors and senators. The Beehive State is not entirely rock-ribbed
conservative, however. Many people would be surprised to find out that a large proportion - approaching 50% - of Salt Lake City residents are not Mormons. Perhaps that
explains how Congressman Jim Matheson, who represents SLC-encompassing District 2, can enjoy relative job security as a Democrat.
Senate: Bob Bennett is a Republican incumbent who faces a very serious threat to his re-election hopes, but it's not in spite of GOP dominance in the state. It
is, rather, in part because of it. You see, Bennett doesn't have a storehouse of good will to bank on with the state's conservative voters. Instead, his vote for TARP
and his co-sponsorship of a bi-partisan health care bill have driven them straight to Tea Party candidates vying for the GOP nomination Bennett has cruised to in the past. Odds are
Bennett will NOT be the nominee to defend his own seat in 2010. In the Utah GOP's unique system of granting party nominations, the top two convention votegetters do battle in a
primary - unless one candidate gets the vote of at least 60% of convention delegates. Recent polls show delegates giving former counsel to Gov. Jon Huntsman, Mike Lee, a clear
advantage but not near the 60% required to avoid a runoff. Chances are Lee and Bennett will head to a primary, though a Mason-Dixon poll out last week relegates Bennett to third
place behind Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater. Regardless of whether Bennett survives the convention to contest the primary, it is unlikely he will have the support to win
it. On the Democratic side, ABC chairman Sam Granato looks to be the nominee. Though some Democratic strategists hope a non-Bennett GOP nominee will be vulnerable, I
don't see it. Bennett or not this is a Solid GOP Hold.
Governor: After Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, he tapped Utah Governor Bill Huntsman, Jr. to become U.S. ambassador to China. Huntsman's
replacement, Lt.Governor Gary Herbert, stepped up to take the top job. This year, a special election will be held to see if Herbert gets to keep that job. Early on, Herbert's
chances were unknown, and time was needed to see how Utahans would take to their interim governor. He seems to have made good impressions all around as his approval rating in
a recent Rasmussen poll hit the 70% mark. With approval ratings that high, Herbert's potential opponents, both within the GOP and without, largely decided to pass on the
opportunity to deny him his first election to the governorship. Three minor Republican candidates, none of which is a threat, filed to run against him in the primary, and Salt Lake
County Mayor Peter Corroon is the only Democrat in the race. The Rasmussen poll conducted two weeks ago gives Corroon little chance of victory. It shows the incumbent
with a 2-1 advantage. Since assuming office, Governor Herbert has filled the role well, turning what could have been an obstacle-filled path to re-election into a Solid GOP Hold for himself.
Check out the Utah state page for the rest of the story.
Next stop: Vermont
posted by Scott Elliott at 7:30pm 04/29/10::