A small-town, Morgan County rancher new to state politics may actually have a fighting chance taking down a long-time incumbent in a tight primary race for Utah House of Representatives District 53.
At the close of polls on June 28, Logan Wilde brought in 2,294 votes to Mel Brown’s 2,230. That is a difference of 64 votes in an election conducted entirely by mail, so more may still be arriving with the correct postmark date of June 27. The percentages shake out to be 50.7 percent for Wilde and 49.3 percent for Brown.
Wilde’s wife, Kim, calls the initial results “really crazy close,” especially against an incumbent during the Republican primary election turned on its head after the Count My Vote debacle.
At April’s Republican state convention, Wilde got enough delegate votes to land him on the ballot.
A final count, including provisional ballots, is expected today. However, the official certification of election results is set for July 12.
“If you wonder whether or not we’re dying of suspense at our house, the answer is yes,” she said. “Provisional ballots still need to be added, so it really could go either way. I am feeling cautiously optimistic.”
If Wilde’s numbers hold out, he will be on the November ballot against Democrat opponent Cole R. Capener, a Park City resident. If he trumps Capener in November, Wilde would secure a spot few Morgan residents have held in recent years. Since 1970, a Morgan resident has not served in either the State House or Senate. That is almost 50 years too long, Wilde said.
If elected, Wilde would represent residents in the five counties of District 53—Morgan, Summit, Daggett, Rich and Duchesne. He has been spending much of his spring and summer personally campaigning in these counties, but still got more votes from his hometown.
In Morgan County, Wilde pulled in almost 77 percent of the vote compared to 44 percent in Duchesne, 38 percent in Daggett, and 34 percent in both Summit and Rich.
Brown has served on the state legislature for 10 years in District 53 and 13 years representing Salt Lake County. In the most recent legislative session, he was on committees including the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee as well as the Health and Human Services Interim Committee. A Coalville resident, Brown is also part of a family-owned dairy farm.
Wilde, a Croydon rancher overseeing 17,000 acres, began serving on the Morgan County Council in 2013 while also serving as a Croydon Pipeline company board member and managing partner of M.R. Wilde and Sons. He also served on the Morgan Conservation District and the Utah Conservation Commission as a legislative contact.