Utah Sen. Derek Kitchen says party switching partly to blame for primary loss

Jul 13, 2022, 7:00 PM
marriage Utah Sen. Derek Kitchen firearm codify...
Utah Sen. Derek Kitchen says party switching is partly blame for loss in last month's Democratic primary election. Photo credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, says Democrats switching to Republican to vote in the party’s closed primary, had a “significant” impact on his loss to Dr. Jennifer Plumb.

Kitchen lost to Plumb by 61 total votes, or .7%.

“I feel confident that if…that wasn’t an organized effort to switch to Republican, that I would have sailed to victory this year,” he told KSL NewsRadio.

Kitchen cited the numbers of Republican votes coming out of District 9, a known liberal area on the east side of Salt Lake City.

“This is the most Democratic district in the state, if you look at the numbers, it’s wild to see how many Republican ballots were cast,” he said.

The numbers according to Derek Kitchen

Kitchen cited his own tally of the numbers comparing Republican turnout in last month’s primary, to when he beat Plumb the first time in 2018.

Election data from the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office shows there was a sizable Republican turnout in the district this year. However, it can’t be said whether all those Republicans were former Democrats who switched for this election.

According to Salt Lake County’s election data, there are 17,231 Republicans in Senate District 9. Of those, 10,364 voted in the Republican primary on June 28 giving them a 60.1% turnout.

However, this may include Republicans who switched parties in 2020 — to vote in the hotly contested Governor’s primary race between former Gov. John Huntsman and current Gov. Spencer Cox — and never switched back.

There are 19,137 Democrats in the district and of those, 8,705 voted in the primary between Kitchen and Plumb, giving Democrats a 45.5% turnout. Because Democrats hold open primaries, some of those Democrats could technically be unaffiliated voters. The Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office, though, said that number was small at only a “few hundred.”

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Utah Sen. Derek Kitchen says party switching partly to blame for primary loss