Mitt Romney handily wins US Senate seat from Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Latest on Tuesday’s midterm election in Utah

11:20 p.m.

Republican U.S. Rep Chris Stewart has won re-election to a fourth term in Congress by defeating Democratic challenger Shireen Ghorbani.

Stewart represents Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, which covers a large portion of the state, including most of Salt Lake City west to the Nevada border and south to the Arizona border.

He is a former Air Force pilot and author who was first elected in 2012.

Ghorbani works in communications at the University of Utah and championed access to affordable health care. A first-time candidate, she criticized President Donald Trump and GOP-backed tax cuts.

Stewart, meanwhile, said he supports most of Trump’s policies but isn’t afraid to challenge him on things like tariffs and family separation at the border.


11:10 p.m.

Republican U.S. Rep. John Curtis has won his first full term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The former Provo, Utah, mayor defeated Democrat college professor James Singer and United Utah Party candidate Tim Zeidner on Tuesday.

Curtis joined Congress after winning a special election last year to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who stepped down and is now a Fox News commentator.

Seen as a moderate Republican, Curtis fended off a pro-President Donald Trump rival in the GOP primary. His victory means he’ll continue to represent the 3rd Congressional District, which stretches from the suburbs of Salt Lake City to the state’s rural southeast corner.

Singer, his Democratic rival, had championed affordable health care. Zeidner represented a new, centrist third party.


10:50 p.m.

Utah voters have rejected a ballot measure that would have boosted education funding in a state that has the lowest per pupil spending in the nation.

The ballot question that failed in Tuesday’s election was crafted as part of a compromise between lawmakers and an education group that initially wanted to take a different plan to voters.

Under the plan, a 10-cent gas tax increase would have given public schools about $100 million more annually, or about $150 per student.

The Utah chapter of Americans for Prosperity, founded billionaire conservative David Koch, opposed the plan. The group argued that lawmakers should me more efficient with existing funds rather than raising taxes for residents.

As part of the compromise, lawmakers have already taken different steps including a property tax increase to increase education funding.


9:12 p.m.

Republican Rep. Rob Bishop has bested two opponents to win re-election to a ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Bishop defeated Democrat Lee Castillo and Eric Eliason of the new United Utah Party on Tuesday.

His opponents tried to paint him as a career politician beholden to special interests, a charge Bishop denied while touting his long experience in government.

Bishop serves as chairman of the powerful House Natural Resources Committee and is a key player on many public lands bills. A former history teacher and state lawmaker, he was first elected to the House in 2002. He has said this will be his final term.


9:02 p.m.

Officials say some Utah County voters have waited in long lines to cast a vote in the 2018 midterm election.

Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson told the Daily Herald on Tuesday that he estimates voters at dozens of locations have waited an average of about an hour.

U.S. Rep. Mia Love spokeswoman Sasha Clark says she’s been told some voter are waiting three hours or more.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports more than 700,000 Utah voters had cast ballots by noon on Tuesday, compared to nearly 578,000 in the last midterm election in 2014.

Midterm election years generally see a lower turnout compared to presidential years, but Love’s campaign manager Dave Hansen says this year’s turnout appears to be breaking that pattern.


8:55 p.m.

Mitt Romney says his Senate victory in Utah is a call for greater respect, regardless of gender, race or place of birth.

Romney said during an acceptance speech Tuesday that his success affirms that “we are equal, not only in the eyes of God, but also in the respect and dignity we are due from government and from our fellow Americans.”

He also said he expects to work with members of both parties on his priorities like balancing the budget, reforming the immigration system and pushing back “against the heavy hand of federal government.”

Romney easily won the race to replace retiring fellow Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch after more than 40 years, defeating Democrat Jenny Wilson.

He moved after his 2012 presidential loss to Utah, where he is a beloved adopted son.


8:00 p.m.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has handily won a U.S. Senate seat in his adopted home state of Utah after a campaign where he backed off his once-fierce criticism of Donald Trump.

Romney clinched the win Tuesday as soon as polls closed in Utah, where voters are also choosing whether U.S. Rep. Mia Love will earn a third term and deciding if the state will make medical marijuana legal.

Romney defeated Democrat Jenny Wilson, a member of the Salt Lake County council. He replaces longtime Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who chose not to seek re-election.

Romney was the heavy favorite to win the seat in conservative Utah, where he holds near-celebrity status as the first Mormon presidential nominee from a major party.

Romney denounced Trump as a “fraud” and a “phony” during the 2016 campaign, but has since said he approves of many Trump policies.

Love, a Republican, is facing a challenge from Democrat Ben McAdams in the state’s 4th congressional district that covers many of the Salt Lake City suburbs.


5:30 p.m.

Massage therapist Jay Neilson says health care was the important issue for him this election, which is why voted for the medical marijuana and Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives to get people help who need it.

The 59-year-old who votes Democrat knows that state leaders have vowed to join 30 other states in legalizing pot for people with certain conditions no matter if the ballot measure passes under a compromise reached before the election. But, Neilson says he wanted to cast his vote to show his support.

“It should have been done long before now, but putting it on the ballot forced their hand, and I’m glad it did,” said Neilson, of Draper. “Hopefully things will work out for those who are in desperately need of that medical cannabis.”

Neilson says even though he voted for Jenny Wilson over Mitt Romney for U.S. Senate, but he would prefer Romney over Donald Trump as president. He called Trump narcissist while he considers Romney a good man.


3:40 p.m.

Utah election officials say 50 percent of all active, registered voters had already voted by early ballot as of Tuesday morning.

The Lieutenant Governor’s office, which runs elections, reported that 700,444 ballots has been turned in — half of the nearly 1.4 million voters.

This year, 27 of the state’s 29 counties offered early, mail-in balloting. The figures show that voter turnout is particularly high in the state’s most populated county, Salt Lake County. About 55 percent of the county’s 518,000 voters had turned in their ballots.

The county accounts for about eight in 10 voters in the state’s 4th congressional district where Republican Mia Love is expected to face a stiff challenge from Democrat Ben McAdams.

Early voting was slow in the state’s second-largest county, Utah County. Only 36 percent of voters in Utah County had turned in ballots by Tuesday. The county has the second-largest share of voters in the Love-McAdams district.

Utah voters can drop off early ballots at polls on Tuesday and the state for the first time allowing unregistered voters to register on Election Day and cast a ballot. Polls open at 7 a.m. MT and close at 8 p.m. MT.


12:55 p.m.

Riverton stay-at-home mother Shelly Cluff says she’s voting for Republican Mia Love because the congresswoman has been willing to speak out against President Donald Trump on key issues.

Cluff told The Associated Press she’d “love more of a check on the president right now.”

The 31-year-old Cluff is a Republican party activist but doesn’t support the president and is particularly disturbed by his talk on immigration. She appreciates that Love backed an effort to force a vote on bill to help young immigrants known as Dreamers.

Love is the first black Republican woman elected to Congress, and Cluff said that gives her an important perspective in the GOP.

She said she’s spoken with Love’s Democratic challenger Ben McAdams, but won’t vote for him because she’s concerned that he’d toe the party line in Congress.


12:35 a.m.

Voter Steve Jacobson says he’s voting for Democrat Ben McAdams, who is challenging Republican U.S. Rep Mia Love in a tight race.

The 51-year-old retail manager told The Associated Press that he’s worried about the high cost of health care, especially for his mother, who is on a fixed income.

Jacobson says he’s also concerned about protecting equality for all, since he has a partner and two children at home.

He says he questions whether Love is trustworthy because of allegations that her campaign improperly raised money for a primary where she ran unopposed.

Love has said most of that money was properly raised and released a Federal Election Commission email backing her position, though she still faces an open compliant from a left-leaning group.


10:15 a.m.

A 79-year-old furniture store owner from Price, Utah, says Republican Mitt Romney is his pick in the race for a U.S. Senate seat from Utah.

Bill Knott told The Associated Press that he followed Romney’s career, including the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. He believes Romney is a good man and capable leader aligned with his own moderately conservative Republican views.

Knott expects Romney to win the race against Democrat Jenny Wilson, but doesn’t think Romney will resume criticizing Trump the way he did during the 2016 election once in office.

According to Knott, Romney doesn’t always approve of President Donald Trump but “realizes Trump is in power” and believes he has been effective.

Knott considers Trump “embarrassing and kind of a jerk” but performing a necessary role.


9:25 a.m.

Stephen Adams, a 32-year-old engineer from Draper, voted for Democrats this time around to show his displeasure with Utah’s conservative culture.

Adams voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, but cast his early ballot for U.S. Senate for Romney’s opponent, Democrat Jenny Wilson. He said it was mostly about voting against Romney.

Adams also voted Democrat in his U.S. House district.

The father of two said he grew up Mormon and used to be Republican but began drifting away from both after his brother came out as gay five years ago.

He called the GOP’s polices repulsive and Donald Trump’s presidency depressing.

“His willingness to get in fight publicly has been really discouraging,” Adams said. “I don’t like to see that in a president.”


7 a.m.

Voting is underway across Utah as polling sites open for Tuesday’s midterm election.

Voters will decide a hotly contested congressional race, a high-profile medical marijuana proposal and a replacement for Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is the heavy favorite to win the race for Hatch’s seat against Democrat Jenny Wilson, but other races are too close to call.

Perhaps the tightest congressional race is between U.S. Rep. Mia Love and the Democrat challenging her for the seat, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

Meanwhile, voters also will decide the fate of ballot proposals that include a medical-marijuana plan that’s drawn criticism from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Voters also will decide whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program after years of resistance by state lawmakers.


11:05 p.m.

Utah voters have a list of decisions to make at the polls Tuesday, including a hotly contested congressional race, a high-profile medical marijuana proposal and a replacement for Sen. Orrin Hatch after more than 40 years.

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is the heavy favorite to win the race for Hatch’s seat against Democrat Jenny Wilson, but other races are too close to call.

Perhaps the tightest race is between U.S. Rep. Mia Love and the Democrat challenging her for the seat, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

Meanwhile, voters are also weighing in on a number of ballot proposals, including a medical-marijuana plan that’s drawn criticism from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

They’ll also decide whether to expand Medicaid after years of resistance by state lawmakers.

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