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SALT LAKE CITY — The Republican Party held its majority in Utah's Legislature on Tuesday, expanding their control of both chambers.
At press time, Democrats had lost one seat in Senate and one in the House.
"We're benefitting from that tsunami wave that (President candidate Mitt) Romney creates, but we also have great candidates and we're really honored that people are trusting Republicans again," said Thomas Wright, GOP state chairman.
After record turnout at state caucuses earlier this year, several incumbent far-right GOP lawmakers faced stiff primary competition and fell to moderate challengers. Other seats were vacated by candidates retiring or seeking higher office, leaving a total of 20 open seats in the Utah Legislature.
We're benefitting from that tsunami wave that (President candidate Mitt) Romney creates, but we also have great candidates and we're really honored that people are trusting Republicans again.
In the Senate, Republican Deidre Henderson ran unopposed and picked up the District 7 seat currently held by Democrat Ross Romero, who vacated the position for an unsuccessful bid for Salt Lake County Mayor. Henderson's election gives the Utah Republican Party 23-6 majority in the Senate.
A number of incumbent candidates also found themselves displaced due to recent redistricting, including House District 30, where Democrat Janice Fisher and Republican Fred Cox faced each other. At press time, Fisher was leading Cox, 53 percent to 46 percent with 33 percent of precincts reporting.
In the House of Representatives, Democratic incumbent Christine Watkins fell to Republican Jerry Anderson by less than three percentage points.
In House District 37, Democratic incumbent Carol Spackman Moss narrowly edged out Republican challenger Anne-Marie Lampropoulos after weeks of television, mail and radio ads typical of statewide campaigns. At press time, Moss carried 51 percent of the vote with 26 percent of precincts reporting.
Lampropoulos spent more than double the amount of her opponent during the general election, $54,000 compared with Moss' $23,000, according to the most recent campaign finance information.
In Senate District 8, Democratic candidate Josie Valdez had failed at press time to claim the seat vacated by Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Salt Lake City. If elected, Valdez would have joined her husband, Rep. Mark Wheatley, D-Murray, who currently serves in the Utah House.
Other open Legislative seats around the state saw mostly Republican victories. Five candidates in the Senate and eight candidates in the House ran unopposed.