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It was truly a Wilde race.
By just eight votes, Morgan County Council Chairman Logan Wilde defeated incumbent state Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, a former Utah House speaker, in a GOP primary, according to Tuesday's final county canvasses.
But the margin is so close that Brown legally may request a recount, and the outcome of their race could be up in the air for several weeks. Their House District 53 includes parts of Daggett, Duchesne, Morgan, Rich and Summit counties.
For now, final tallies show that Wilde is the winner with 2,490 votes to Brown's 2,482, or 50.08 percent to 49.92 percent.
Under Utah law, a candidate may request a recount if the margin is within a quarter of a percent. Wilde's gap is 0.16 percent, which is in that threshold.
Mark Thomas, state elections director, said the next step is for Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox to conduct a state canvass July 26 of the results from those counties. Brown then would have seven days after that to request a recount.
"So we may have to wait several more weeks to declare a clear winner," Thomas said.
"I'm ecstatic. I feel very honored that people came out and supported me," said Wilde, a sheep and cattle rancher who lives in Croydon.
He predicted he would survive a recount because county clerks have scrutinized counts closely in the past two weeks as ballots arrived through by-mail voting. "It's pretty sound. They have gone over the numbers enough that they know."
Wilde said each candidate had strong support in different regions. "Summit was his [Brown's] strongest area. Morgan came out really strongly to support me, as did Duchesne and Daggett counties."
Different issues were important in different areas, Wilde said. "In Morgan, it was definitely education" as Wilde campaigned for more local control.
"You get out in Daggett, Duchesne and Rich counties, and it is public lands," where Wilde vowed to stop federal overreach.
The race saw razor-thin margins in counts since polls closed June 28. On election night, Wilde held a 64-vote lead. That dwindled to 11 votes on the first vote update July 1; grew slightly to a 16-vote lead July 5; and went back to a 10-vote edge Friday, before the final eight-point margin.
If any recount confirms initial tallies, Wilde will face Democrat Cole Capener in the Nov. 8 general election.
Brown, 78, has served two separate stints in the Legislature, for a total of 24 years, and is the longest-serving member of the House GOP caucus. He once fell from grace amid scandal, only to resurrect his political career later.
He first took office in 1986 and was elected speaker in 1994 and 1996.
But, in 1998, he was snarled in controversy after his discussions with a lobbyist about a post-legislative job with U.S. West at the same time the Legislature was considering key telecommunications legislation.
The Ethics Committee cleared Brown of any legal wrongdoing, but he chose not to seek re-election as speaker. He stepped down from the Legislature in 2000.
He moved from Midvale to Coalville, where residents of his new area elected him to Capitol Hill again in 2006. The latest stint included serving as the House chairman of the powerful Executive Appropriations Committee from 2011 through 2014.
Brown was the only legislative incumbent to lose his or her seat in this year's primary.
Two lost earlier in party conventions. Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley City, fell to former West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder. Rep. Earl Tanner, R-West Jordan, came up short against Adam Gardiner, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop.