But what Republican legislative seats could be lost to Democratic challengers?
Last week the House GOP caucus – which is usually open – closed its doors so members could discuss which among their colleagues are worried about losing Nov. 6.
Sources tell UtahPolicy that while several seats were discussed, two at the top of the “worried” list are Reps. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville/West Valley City, and Fred Cox, R-West Valley.
Both men are relatively new to their seats, Anderson won in 2010 and Cox was appointed in 2011.
In addition, both their districts were redrawn by the GOP-controlled 2011 Legislature, giving them voters unfamiliar with their names.
Cox, a congenial guy who comes up with a lot of ideas, some acceptable to the conservative Republicans, some not, was redrawing U.S. House seats – not taking the hint that his colleagues had already decided Democrat Jim Matheson’s fate – right up to the actual votes on the House floor.
Anderson has for the most part flown under the radar, taking up the old adage that freshmen are best seen and not heard (although Anderson has spoken up on issues dear to him, like children’s care and welfare).
By the Legislature’s conservative attitude, both men would be considered moderate-to-conservative, a dying breed in the Utah House.
House colleagues redistricted Cox into the same seat as Democratic Rep. Janice Fisher, D-West Valley.
Democrat Celina Milner, a newcomer to legislative politics, is challenging Anderson.
One GOP source says that Anderson’s newly drawn district is about 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, although there are variations between “solid” Democratic voters and “solid” GOP voters.
Cox has previously told UtahPolicy that his new district, while different, is one that he believes he can do well in.
Fisher has had some health issues, and has been seen noticeably limping around the House floor. But she says she’s ready for a tough race with Cox.
House Democrats, while not completely happy with how Republicans redrew their seats in 2011, say they were well treated overall in redistricting. And Fischer was the only Democrat to vote against the House’s redistricting of the 75 representatives last year.
Cox has raised $10,136, spent $5,843 and as of Aug. 31 had $4,292 in cash. His latest financial report is here.
Fisher, first elected in 2006 to the old District 29, has raised $15,731, spent $6,218 and as of Aug. 31 had $9,512 in cash.
Her latest report is here.
For a highly contested Utah House seat, neither candidate has raised nor spent much money – at least through their last reports.
Historically, both Republican and Democratic legislative incumbents rely heavily on special interest or PAC money. But Cox and Fisher have not stacked their coffers with such cash.
Both do get strong support from reliable allies, mainly their partisan PACs and party donations.
Cox has received $3,000 from the House GOP PAC, which held its main pre-election fundraiser in September.
He also has $700 from the Salt Lake County Republican Party.
Both he and Fisher got $500 each from Reagan Outdoor Advertising, a billboard business that for years has donated to both party legislative candidates; a business which often asks the Legislature for protection from zoning ordinances imposed by local cities and counties.
Cox also received $250 from IM Flash, the business where Speaker Becky Lockhart’s husband, Stan, is the main lobbyist.
Breaking with tradition, Lockhart is not giving her GOP colleagues cash this year, saying the long-held practice is wrong-headed. But, like in previous years, IM Flash and its ownership hi-tech firms are contributing.
Fisher has gotten $1,000 from the Committee for a Democratic Majority (the House Demo PAC), $2,000 from the Utah Education Association (the main teacher union), $2,000 from retiring House Minority Leader David Litvack and $250 from Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake.
Fisher has also gotten $500 from 1-800 Contacts, the firm that employs House Minority Whip Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake. Seelig is running for Litvack’s vacated leader post, challenged in that race by House Minority Assistant Whip Brian King, D-Salt Lake.
One source told UtahPolicy that he had seen an internal GOP poll that showed Fisher slightly ahead of Cox. But the race is likely to be close in the newly-drawn swing district, with most voters polled saying they didn’t know who they would vote for.
The Anderson/Milner race is one of several this year that posts a white male against a minority female.
While getting a number of individual contributions, Anderson’s campaign donations look more like an incumbent’s – a number of special interest groups giving.
The credit union association, which has had epic battles in the Legislature with the bankers’ association, donated $1,000 to his campaign and printed a brochure for him. Anderson later paid back that contribution, his report shows.
The Utah Banker’s Association, not to be outdone, gave him $350. Anderson got $700 from the Salt Lake County GOP and $500 from the Bowling Utah News Magazine.
Milner has a number of individual contributions from Hispanics. The gay rights group Equality Utah donated $1,000, as did the House Democratic PAC. She got $250 from Litvack and $250 from King, who seeks to replace Litvack as minority leader.
Anderson’s last report is here.
Milner’s latest report is here.
As reported previously by UtahPolicy, there are several legislative races this year where female Hispanics seek to beat white, male, Mormon men.
In fact, the longest serving Democrat in the Legislature, Rep. Neal Hendrickson, D-West Valley, has already been beaten in the Democratic primary in House District 33 by Latina Liz Muniz.
You can read more about Cox at his web site here.
Fisher’s web site is here.
And Anderson has a site here.
Milner did not have a web site listed on her official candidate registration form. But a search turns up her site here.
You can also read about these and other candidates at the www.vote.utah.gov site.
You can see the District 30 map here.
The District 34 map is here.
Many Capitol Hill insiders believe it will be a tough legislative election year for Democrats, with Mitt Romney drawing out more Mormon Republicans to the polls.
With a number of Salt Lake County eastside incumbent House Democrats in jeopardy of losing, it is critically important that the minority party pick up a few House seats on the county’s westside – areas that have been trending Democratic/Hispanic in recent years.
Both House and Senate Democrats lost one seat in Salt Lake County during redistricting.
That drops the Democrats’ numbers to 16 in the House (only one outside of Salt Lake County) and six in the Senate, all in Salt Lake County.
Democrats could lose the open seat of retiring Sen. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights. That would drop their number to five in the 29-member body, the lowest since the mid-1980s.
Democrats could lose two to four House seats in central/east Salt Lake County. That could put them down to 12 or even 10, if they don’t pick up any seats, their lowest numbers since there were only 13 House Democrats in 1985-1986.