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Democratic legislative candidate Suzanne Harrison waived the possibility of a legal challenge Friday and conceded the race to outspoken social conservative Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper.
"I want to congratulate Representative Christensen and I wish him well as he continues to represent the people in" House District 32, Harrison said in a prepared statement.
It appeared on election night that Harrison, head of the anesthesiology department at Riverton Hospital, had narrowly won the race. But late-arriving mail-in ballots put Christensen up by three votes in the official canvass. A subsequent recount completed Monday ended with Christensen winning by five votes out of the more than 17,000 cast.
"My campaign was able to observe the recount process and are satisfied with the accuracy of the results. If we have learned anything in this election, it's the importance of every vote," Harrison said, thanking her supporters and the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office. Ultimately, 32 ballots were not tallied because of missing or unmatched signatures.
Christensen is one of the most vocal social conservatives in the Utah Legislature and was a sponsor of the 2004 constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and any marriage-like benefits to LGBT people.
Utah's ban, along with other states', was subsequently overturned by federal court rulings that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
More recently, Christensen has unsuccessfully attempted to push legislation styled as religious liberty protection bills proposals opposed as discriminatory by gay-rights advocates.
The eight-term lawmaker is an attorney and developer.