Utah Solicitor General Jan Graham, a Democrat, and Iron County Attorney Scott Burns, a Republican, each won hard-fought primary races with about 60 percent of the vote.
Graham, who was endorsed by Attorney General Paul Van Dam, said she beat former 3rd District Judge Scott Daniels by billing herself as the most prepared and most committed candidate."It sounds boring, but that's the message we pounded on over and over," she said in a telephone interview from home after leaving her still lively victory party shortly before midnight to be with her 21/2-month-old son.
Before being hired in 1989 by Van Dam, who decided last year not to seek a second term, Graham was a partner in the law firm of Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDon-ough.
Daniels said he was defeated by allegations made by Van Dam just 10 days before the election that he politicked from the bench before stepping down in April to run.
"Jan Graham was never connected with it in the public's mind," Daniels said as a handful of supporters folded chairs and gathered balloons at his campaign headquarters after he conceded at about 11:30 p.m.
Graham has maintained that Van Dam acted on his own to create a last-minute controversy in what had been an all-but-ignored race. Van Dam had said he would take his charges to the Utah State Bar, then changed his mind late last week.
"I don't know if it helped or hurt me," Graham said, noting that most of the voters she had talked with about the allegations either hadn't heard them or didn't understand them.
Burns said he won over former Chief Deputy Attorney General Michael Deamer because he had the support of law enforcement officials throughout the state, including police chiefs and county attorneys.
"They and the citizens of Utah want a tough, conservative attorney general," Burns said from a tiny corner of the Little America ballroom belonging to gubernatorial nominee Mike Leavitt.
Burns said he would be stepping up his campaign. He won the primary from his Cedar City office without a campaign manager and with only a week's worth of radio commercials.
"It's going to have to be a whole different approach," Burns said, calling the general election "a clear choice between a conservative prosecutor and a liberal Democrat."
Deamer said he tried to emphasize his experience as a top official during the administrations of two former Republican attorneys general. "Obviously, it was not important to voters," he said.
Sitting in a Little America suite marked by a "Mike Deamer - Law and Order" campaign sign with members of his family and a few friends, Deamer said he had no regrets. "We worked hard. We did the best we could," he said.
Graham and Burns both say gender will not be an issue in the general election, even though many political observers say women have an edge this year.