Incumbents lose reelection bids at Salt Lake County GOP convention

Incumbents lose reelection bids at Salt Lake County GOP convention

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MURRAY — Salt Lake County Republicans voted at their convention Saturday to end the reelection bids of both Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, and Salt Lake County Auditor Greg Hawkins.

Delegates also sent Salt Lake County Assessor Kevin Jacobs to a primary against challenger Jake Parkinson during a long day that saw House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, secure his nomination despite a tough opponent.

"I think the incumbents who lost didn't work hard enough," the convention chairman, Rick Votaw, said. "For this convention, it's all about personal contact between the candidates and the delegates."

Some delegates gathered at Cottonwood High School for the convention complained they didn't have much opportunity to talk with Hawkins, first elected four years ago as county auditor to replace Jeff Hatch, a Democrat.

Hawkins said in his speech to delegates he would not run again. His GOP opponent, Scott Tingley, won the support of 69 percent of the delegates after emphasizing his experience as an auditor.

Delegates also decided Salt Lake County Assessor Kevin Jacobs will run in the June 24 primary against Jake Parkinson, who said the assessor's office is behind the times when it comes to using technology.

Parkinson had nearly 53 percent of the vote Saturday, but candidates must win more than 60 percent to avoid a primary.

Jacquie Nielsen, who ended up with 59 percent of the vote, and George Chapman, will square off in a primary race for Senate District 2, held by Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake, who recently stepped down as Utah Democratic Party Chairman.

I think the incumbents who lost didn't work hard enough. For this convention, it's all about personal contact between the candidates and the delegates.

–Rick Votaw, convention chairman

In House District 42, Bird was defeated by challenger Kim Coleman.

"I'm fine," he said as he shook hands with delegates thanking him for his service in the Legislature. "I've had eight wonderful years. It doesn't mean I'm done. I'm just done for now."

Bird said the biggest issues in his race were the Common Core standards for public education adopted by Utah and the compromise reached by lawmakers last session over the Count My Vote initiative to replace the caucus and convention system.

He said he was surprised to receive only 28 percent of the vote to 72 percent for Coleman, an education and political consultant.

"We figured there would be a primary, worst-case scenario. We didn't see this happening," Bird said.

Hughes, seen as a possible contender to replace retiring House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, faced similar issues in his race against Sione Tavake in House District 51, but was able to secure the nomination with 67 percent of the vote.

Reps. Rich Cunningham, R-South Jordan, and LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, also bested their Republican opponents to secure the party's nomination.

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