- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Latest on a primary election in Utah (all times local):

10:38 p.m.

Social worker Lee Castillo was leading businessman Kurt Weiland in the Democratic primary in Utah’s 1st Congressional District, but the race was too close to call.

Castillo led by more than 10 percentage points in votes tabulated by The Associated Press Tuesday night.

If he holds on, Castillo would be an underdog against incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop in the November general election in a predominantly Republican district that runs across the northern part of the state. United Utah Party candidate Eric Eliason will also be on the ballot.

Castillo is a gay Hispanic single father who has depicted himself as a voice for marginalized communities.

Weiland touted his experience in the U.S. Army and running a training and consulting firm. He says he would focus on keeping a close relationship with his district.

The two men got into a heated confrontation over the placement of signs at the Davis County Democratic convention in April. Police were called but no charges were filed.


10:20 p.m.

Utah’s Senate Democratic nominee is promising a hard race based on the issues against Republican Mitt Romney after his primary victory.

Salt Lake County Council member Jenny Wilson congratulated Romney in a statement Tuesday evening and hinted at her general election strategy.

She says the country needs “a new generation of leaders” and hinted at Romney’s political career outside the state, suggesting the former Massachusetts governor is an interloper in Utah.

Wilson suggested Romney was running for Senate “to be relevant on the national scene,” instead of trying to represent Utah voters.

She also says Romney is more conservative on immigration than the Donald Trump administration and suggested he supports tax policies that are “giveaways to corporations.”

Wilson will be the underdog in deep-red Utah, which has not sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate for decades.

The two are running to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch.


10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is congratulating his onetime critic Mitt Romney on his Republican primary win in the U.S. Senate race in Utah.

Trump tweeted Tuesday that he looks forward to working with Romney, and said “a great and loving family will be coming to D.C.”

Romney’s landslide win came two years after he blasted then-candidate Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud” during the 2016 campaign.

Romney’s rhetoric has changed dramatically since then, and he’s predicted that Trump will win another term in 2020.

Still, he’s stopped short of endorsing him and pledged out any “significant” examples of racism, sexism or divisiveness from the president.

Romney now faces Democrat Jenny Wilson, but GOP candidates are favored in conservative Utah.


9:01 p.m.

U.S. Rep. John Curtis has fended off a challenger in Utah’s Republican primary.

The 58-year-old former Provo mayor secured his nomination for re-election by beating businessman Chris Herrod on Tuesday.

Curtis will seek his first full term in November against Democrat college professor James Singer and United Utah Party candidate Melanie McCoard.

Curtis entered office following a special election last year to replace Jason Chaffetz. Herrod had unsuccessfully challenged Curtis in that election as well.

Curtis’s 3rd Congressional District is heavily Republican and stretches from the suburbs of Salt Lake City to the state’s rural southeast corner. Curtis is favored to win in the general election.

Curtis has broken with President Donald Trump on plans for a U.S.-Mexico border wall and the administration’s policy of separating families after illegal border crossings.

Herrod had advertised himself as a conservative pro-Trump alternative.


8:28 p.m.

Mitt Romney has won the Republican primary for a Utah Senate seat, setting him on the path to re-start his political career with a Senate seat left open by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Romney secured the nomination Tuesday against state lawmaker Mike Kennedy after fending off attacks on his onetime criticism of President Donald Trump.

The former presidential candidate was the heavy favorite to win the race in Utah, where he moved after his failed 2012 presidential run and is a beloved adopted son.

Romney blasted Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, though the two men have largely buried the hatchet, and Romney has accepted the president’s endorsement.

He now faces Democratic Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, though GOP candidates have a big upper hand in the conservative state.


8:00 p.m.

Polls have closed in Utah’s primary election as former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney hopes to clear a key hurdle in his quest to restart his political career.

Romney is facing off against state Rep. Mike Kennedy, a family doctor who defeated Romney at the GOP party convention in April among far right-leaning voters. The two were forced into a primary since neither won 60 percent of delegates’ votes to secure the nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Kennedy says he is the true conservative in the race and would work better with President Donald Trump. Romney says Trump’s presidency so far has exceeded his expectations, but he’s vowing to speak out against Trump when he doesn’t agree.

In another closely watched race, U.S. Rep. John Curtis is trying to fend off a GOP primary challenger and take a major step toward winning his first full term in Congress in the 3rd Congressional District. Curtis entered office last year following a special election to replace Jason Chaffetz.


7:35 p.m.

Dozens of Mitt Romney supporters are gathering before polls close at his festive primary election night party in grassy Utah park with picturesque mountains as the backdrop.

Romney’s campaign has put out has lawn games, a volleyball net and an inflatable bouncy castle Tuesday night and is serving snow cones and hot dogs at an event that has the feel of a summer neighborhood barbeque. Country music and classic rock played from speakers.

Romney is the favorite to win the GOP primary against state Rep. Mike Kennedy and earn the party nomination in his bid to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Several hundred people are expected at the party in Orem, south of Salt Lake City, which takes place on a hot evening where temperatures are hovering in the 90s.

Polls close at 8 p.m. in Utah.


6:50 p.m.

Frances Floresca says she’s voting for Utah lawmaker Mike Kennedy for Senate because she’s seen his work in the state Legislature and appreciates his underdog campaign.

The 21-year-old University of Utah student from Draper says she likes that Kennedy worked hard to get his name out with a grassroots campaign against heavyweight opponent Mitt Romney.

She supports Kennedy’s drive to promote limited government and lower taxes. Floresca also admires his life story as someone who grew up in a single-parent, working-class household to become a doctor, lawyer and father of eight children.


4:15 p.m.

Voter Les Sliger says he’s been concerned about Mitt Romney’s changing views on President Donald Trump, but has since gotten more comfortable with Romney in the race for U.S. Senate in Utah.

Sliger, lives in Vineyard and works in sales, says hearing Romney speak at a campaign event made him into more of a supporter.

Sliger says he was worried because Romney seemed to change how he felt about Trump depending on whether Romney was running for office.

The 59-year-old says he also has concerns about Trump’s character, but respects his record of business success and feels like he genuinely cares about the American people.

He says he likes that Romney backs many of Trumps policies and supports his successes in office.


2:25 p.m.

Utah’s elections office says no problems have been reported at polling stations across the state during Tuesday’s primary election.

State director of elections Justin Lee said 301,000 Utah voters have already cast ballots by mail or through early voting ahead of Tuesday. The number of votes cast Tuesday won’t be available until after polls close at 8 p.m.

Early voting is expected to account for the majority of votes cast in the primary.

Turnout is likely to be high given the statewide Republican primary for Senate featuring former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and state Rep. Mike Kennedy.

Lee said it’s unclear precisely how many voters are eligible to vote Tuesday, since there aren’t races in every party in every district of the state.

The last statewide Republican primary race was for Gov. Gary Herbert’s re-election in 2016. Lee said roughly 247,000 people voted that year.


1:10 p.m.

In rural, central Utah, 29-year-old Republican Jesse Sloan is supporting Mike Kennedy for the U.S. Senate and businessman Chris Herrod over Rep. John Curtis.

The Price resident says former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has waffled on key issues and isn’t in tune with “Utah values” such as a commitment to gun rights and opposition to abortion.

Sloan says Curtis has struck the wrong tone on gun issues in the past and didn’t work hard enough to block a $1.3 billion spending bill from becoming law this year. Sloan says he worked with Herrod’s campaign as a county coordinator last year, when the two men matched up previously, but hasn’t been involved this year.

Sloan is a plumbing contractor.

He worries voters have been burned out on politics and aren’t paying enough attention to this year’s election.


11:40 a.m.

Mitt Romney is stopping at Utah restaurants and posing for photos with voters as he competes in a GOP primary election Tuesday for Utah’s Senate seat.

The former Republican presidential candidate started his morning at a northern Utah diner where he sat down to a big breakfast of pancakes and eggs with his wife Ann and grandkids and checked out a vintage car parked outside.

He planned to make another stop Tuesday afternoon at a barbeque restaurant south of Salt Lake City.

His opponent Mike Kennedy cast his ballot Tuesday morning in the city of Alpine and then spent time making calls to voters.

His spokeswoman Cindie Quintana says Kennedy may spend the afternoon knocking on doors to try to reach as many people as possible.

He faces an uphill battle to defeat Romney who is considered a beloved adopted son.


10:35 a.m.

Software engineer Alan Wessman says he refuses to vote for any Republican candidate who’s enthusiastic about President Donald Trump.

The self-described moderate calls the president corrupt, thin-skinned and incompetent.

For that reason, he’ll be voting for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for Senate to replace retiring longtime U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Romney had previously been harshly critical of Trump but has softened his tone in recent months. Wessman says he’s “turned to mush” but has still been harder on Trump than state Rep. Mike Kennedy.

The 43-year-old Spanish Fork resident also says he’ll be voting for incumbent Rep. John Curtis over businessman Chris Herrod. Herrod has likened himself to a pro-Trump conservative.

Still, Wessman says he may not vote for Republicans in November. He says the GOP has abandoned its principles and been “running interference” for Trump.


7:30 a.m.

Polls have opened in Utah as Republicans will be deciding a primary for Utah Senate between former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and state Rep. Mike Kennedy.

Romney is looking to restart his political career while deflecting attacks on his onetime criticism of President Donald Trump. The former GOP presidential candidate says his political clout would help Utah punch above its weight in Washington, D.C.

Kennedy says he’s the homegrown true conservative who would work better with Trump.

The two were forced into a runoff primary since neither won 60 percent of delegates’ votes to secure the nomination in April.

The winner will be the heavy favorite in the general election against Democrat Salt Lake County Council member Jenny Wilson.


This story has been corrected to show that the winner will face Democrat Jenny Wilson in November.

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