Shifting Right? • Republicans make gains by taking out some Demo incumbents.
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The Democratic minority in the Utah Legislature is getting considerably smaller, after several long-time members lost their seats and the party saw hard-fought gains in the south end of Salt Lake County wiped away by a Republican flood.
House Minority Whip James Gowans, a conservative Democrat from Tooele County who was first elected in 1992, lost to Republican Douglas Sagers, who works in the medical field.
Sen. Brent Goodfellow, who served in the Legislature for 25 years 20 in the House and the last five in the Senate lost to Daniel Thatcher in his district that covers the west end of Salt Lake and part of Tooele counties.
And Rep. Neil Hansen, a firebrand from Ogden first elected in 1998, lost to Republican real estate broker Jeremy Peterson.
"I think what this shows is that races kind of got caught in the wave of enthusiasm that benefitted Republicans nationally and locally, races that in a typical year we would have pulled out," said House Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City.
Republicans entered the night with an overwhelming edge in the Utah Legislature and only added to their dominance. The GOP now holds an advantage of 58-17 in the House and 22-7 in the Senate.
Democrats also lost three seats on the south end of Salt Lake County that the party won just two years ago.
Democratic Rep. Jay Seegmiller, who knocked off then-House Speaker Greg Curtis in 2008 in the Sandy and Cottonwood Heights district, was soundly beaten by Republican Derek Brown, a former legal counsel to U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett.
Rep. Trisha Beck narrowly lost in her third battle with former Republican Rep. LaVar Christensen, as Christensen sought to reclaim a seat he gave up in 2006 to run for Congress. Beck beat Christensen in 2008.
Christensen, an attorney and favorite of Utah's ultra-conservative movement, has fought against gay rights and authored an amendment to the Utah Constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Democratic Rep. Laura Black, who works for a teachers union, was beaten by Steve Eliason, the chief financial officer for Fanzz, a sportswear retailer owned by the Utah Jazz.
Rep. Tim Cosgrove, who has represented the Murray House District 44 since 2004, was challenged by Utah's highest-profile House candidate: former NBA center Shawn Bradley. Cosgrove, the Democrat, defeated Bradley