Republican Gary Herbert secured his second term in office last night, breezing past Democrat Peter Cooke by more than 36,000 votes.
Just before 11 pm, General Peter Cooke arrived unexpectedly at GOP headquarters to congratulate Governor Gary Herbert on his win. Cooke said he tried calling the governor first but he didn’t pick up. Cooke later returned to the Democratic headquarters to concede, saying Utahns need to continue fighting for education.
“We need to be sure that our environment stays as beautiful as it has been and always will be and not give that up," he said. "We have to be sure there is transparent government and that we can be able to know what our government is doing. That’s Critical.”
Herbert said he was confident Utah voters made the right decision to give him another term.
“I think you’re going to find more and more states trying to copy what we’re doing in Utah," he said. "States are the best hope for America I believe and I think you’ll see governor’s being more assertive as we go forward in light of this election tonight.”
He said his victory was bittersweet after having just heard the news that Governor Mitt Romney had lost the presidential election.
Utah Attorney General
Republican John Swallow defeated Democrat Dee Smith to become the next Attorney General of Utah. Swallow carried 63 percent of the vote statewide to win the office. During his acceptance speech on election night, Swallow pledged to fight what he called over-regulation on the state and private business and continue Utah’s efforts to reclaim public land.
“From the first day of this journey, until tonight, our campaign has had a message of an expanded role of the Attorney General’s office,” said Swallow.
Weber County Attorney Dee Smith embraced his Democratic supporters during his concession speech, saying he hoped his message would resonate with voters.
“I felt all along that Utah citizens needed a choice and needed somebody that had been a prosecutor, been in the courtroom and worked with law enforcement to protect our communities and I feel good about the race,” Smith said.
John Swallow has served the last three years as Deputy Attorney General. In his speech he gave credit to his mentor Mark Shurtleff calling him the greatest Attorney General in Utah history.
Republican Orrin Hatch defeated Democratic challenger Scott Howell to win a 7th term representing Utah in the U.S. Senate. With the win Hatch will now become the most senior Republican in the Senate. He said while it was a difficult campaign he’s looking forward to serving another term.
“It does make a difference to stand up every day for our state of Utah and for our wonderful country," he said. "And I do it every day I’m back at the United States Senate and I’m going to continue to do it and I’m going to give it everything I possibly can.”
While Democratic candidate Scott Howell only received 30 percent of the vote he said he still felt good about the campaign he ran.
“The other thing I think we did is that we showed that Utah can have a Mormon Democrat that has the moral character and the opportunity to really make a difference,” Howell said.
Hatch had hoped to become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, but with Democrats retaining a majority, that scenario is no longer possible. Hatch says this will be his last term in office.
Utah 4th Congressional District
The last race to be decided was the new 4th Congressional district between Jim Matheson and Mia Love. After the most expensive race for Congress in Utah history, Matheson won by a hair – leading by less than 3000 votes at the end of the night.
In his victory speech, Matheson told a crowd of Democrats that everything he has accomplished in his 12 years in office was done by placing the interest of the state above party and politics.
“I believe in building consensus and supporting good ideas wherever they come from, and this is who I am, and how I’ve always sought to move forward, by leading from the center and bringing people together,” he said.
Love held back tears as she thanked her supporters, and congratulated Matheson on a hard-fought victory.
“I will work with Congressman Matheson to make sure that we hold each and every one of our representatives accountable. Make sure that we promote individual liberty and freedom and get the decision-making as close to people as possible,” she said.
Between both candidates, more than 10 million dollars was spent on the race. Love told supporters she did not regret a thing. Had she won, she would have been the first black Republican woman in Congress.
Utah 2nd Congressional District
In Utah’s revamped 2nd congressional district Republican Chris Stewart defeated Democrat Jay Seegmiller by just over 28 percentage points. In his first attempt to run for political office, Chris Stewart received 62 percent of the vote in a district that covers 14 different counties. The best-selling author, business man, and former Air Force pilot says there are some immediate economic issues that need to be addressed in Washington.
“There’s a couple things staring us right in the face for this next congress. There’s sequestration, there’s are we going to let the Bush tax cuts expire, we’re going to have to start working on increasing the debt ceiling limit,” he said.
While Seegmiller’s chances were slim in an overly Republican district, he was optimistic for the future of Democrats in Utah.
“We can’t give up, we have to turn out every year," he said. "And we will, we will win these elections and start to get control of the House here in Utah.”
Democrat Jim Matheson previously held the 2nd district seat but decided to run in the 4th after Utah gained an additional congressional seat.
Take a look back at the KUER News staff's live blog of Election 2012. We appreciate all of the participation and look forward to doing more of these kind of events in the future.