The longest-tenured member of the Utah House, Mel Brown, didn’t go out without a fight.
On Tuesday, Brown filed a voluntary dismissal of his complaint lodged with the Utah State Supreme Court asking for a recount in the Utah House District 53 primary election results.
On Primary Election Night, June 28, Brown lost to Morgan resident Logan Wilde by 64 votes. An official July 12 canvass accounted for ballots in the mail, cutting the margin to only eight votes in favor of Wilde. Brown formally asked the Utah Elections Office for a recount in four counties, leading to an Aug. 3 count that put Wilde ahead by nine votes.
But Brown, R-Coalville, continued the fight by filing a lawsuit with the Utah Supreme Court Aug. 12, asking the court to count 70 disqualified ballots. Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox declared the ballots disqualified because they were not postmarked the day before the election. The votes therefore will forever remained not only uncounted, but also unopened, concealing the possibility of an election game-changer.
On Monday, Brown withdrew his lawsuit, which the State Supreme Court had agreed to hear on an expedited basis, because his counsel could not make the required deadlines. The state supreme court put the suit on a fast track, saying the case must be heard by Sept. 6 in order for the proper candidate—Brown or Wilde—to be placed on the ballot in time for the general election.
“While petitioner still believes he has a meritorious case, the restricted timeline imposed on this case renders further pursuit of this matter impossible,” Brown’s motion to dismiss reads.
With dismissal of the lawsuit, Wilde’s name will be opposite Democratic candidate Cole R. Capener, a Park City resident, on the general election ballot. A primary win for Wilde would be considered by many as a precursor to a second win in November, especially in a district dominated by Republican voters.
While Wilde is breathing a sigh of relief after the 62-day ordeal, he said it is too early to consider himself a winner.
“I am glad to be moving forward,” Wilde said with a laugh. “But I am kind of nervous moving forward. In this election, you can’t be overconfident.”
If Wilde indeed does take a state legislative seat in January, he will be the first Morgan resident to do so since 1970. It would be quite the accomplishment for Wilde, considering he was up against an incumbent with 23 years of experience in state office.