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Veteran legislator defeated at GOP county convention

Mar 29, 2022, 1:00 PM | Updated: May 3, 2022, 8:46 am
Steve Handy...
FILE: Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, speaks at the Utah Legislature’s bipartisan Clean Air Caucus press conference in the Gold Room at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — To hear Rep. Steve Handy tell the story, his defeat last weekend at the Davis County Republican Convention resulted from more mainstream Republican voters staying home on caucus night and not participating in the convention. His opponent, Trevor Lee, argues that the convention delegates are very well-informed voters and they simply decided Handy was losing touch with the party’s concerns.

Handy told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic he’s not making excuses.

“I don’t want to come off as sour grapes — I lost,” Handy said. “My opponent didn’t do anything unfair or illegal, but it’s the voter that I think about that doesn’t get a chance to say whether or not they want to re-hire Steve Handy for one more term.”

Handy said he now regrets not gathering signatures, which is the alternate way for a candidate to qualify for a party primary under Utah law.

“I regret not having dug deeper into the pocket and come up with eight thousand dollars,” he said.

Rep. Ray Ward, another incumbent legislator from Davis County, chose to qualify for the ballot using voter signatures.

Trevor Lee, who is now running unopposed in House District 16, said Handy’s vote against the ban on transgender athletes competing in public school sports, is one issue that was on delegates’ minds at the convention on Saturday. Though he voted against H.B.11 on the last day of the session, Handy did vote later to override the veto from Gov. Spencer Cox.

But Lee said Handy’s views aren’t consistent with party delegates.

“It shows that when you’re in power for so long, 12 years, 10 of those unopposed in primaries, that you just don’t relate anymore to the concerns of your constituents,” Lee told KSL NewsRadio.

Lee believes the caucus-convention system is the right way to nominate candidates in Utah, and he’s opposed to the option of qualifying for the ballot by gathering voter signatures.

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Veteran legislator defeated at GOP county convention