With a third of the votes counted, Burke Larsen was almost ready to concede his race for the Davis County Commission. When it hit 50 percent just after 9 p.m., he did concede and left the county courthouse where he had monitored the primary results Tuesday night.
His daughter Alison, 14, wasn't ready to give up and stayed until the last votes were tabulated just before 10 p.m."I'm disappointed," said Alison, who gave her father's nomination speech at the GOP convention. "He really worked hard."
Larsen challenged incumbent Gayle Stevenson for the GOP nomination and finished ahead of him in the spring convention. But Stevenson started strong in the early returns Tuesday, setting a 60 percent-to-40 percent margin that stayed, within a point or two, all night.
"I'm relieved," Stevenson said. "I'm also surprised. I thought it would be closer, tighter than that. Burke really worked to get out the vote."
Stevenson spent 31/2 hours Tuesday evening driving around the county, collecting his campaign signs before heading to the courthouse to check on the results. He'll store the signs until fall when he will face Democratic challenger Kathleen McConkie Collinwood, Bountiful.
As has become a tradition, his victory celebration was held in his commission office with his family - who double as his campaign committee - and supporters standing around sipping root beer floats and poring over the latest vote tallies.
"I'm appalled at the low voter turnout," Stevenson said, "but I'm also grateful for those voters who did come out."
Of the county's 103,482 voters, only 12,601 - 12 percent - voted Tuesday.
Stevenson said he hasn't yet figured out what led to his wide margin of victory in the hard-fought race with Larsen.
"I have no idea. I thought it would be much closer. That convention result really blew me away," Stevenson said. "My strategy after that was to try and see how I could put my experience out there as an asset instead of having Burke make it work against me."
Larsen campaigned on the theme that he had new ideas and a new strategy, based on his business and management background, for moving the county forward.
"I have no bad feelings about Burke," said Stevenson. "He worked hard. He ran a good campaign. I have no heartburn with anything that happened."
Larsen returned the compliment, saying Stevenson's wide victory margin is an endorsement of his opponent, especially his sound fiscal policy, by the county's residents.
"He's a good man," Larsen said. "He's done a good job here. The county's in a strong financial position, and he's been rewarded by the residents with a third term."
Analyzing the results, Larsen said he's not sure what he could have done to alter the outcome.
"If it were closer, I think there might have been things I could have done different. But it isn't close, so I don't know what else I could have done," Larsen said. "I did figure it could have gone the other way, 60/40 for me."
Larsen said he will not make another run at the commission office and there are no other county or local offices that interest him.
"I'm pretty definite about that. I don't have a real burning desire to be a county commissioner. By running, I made my contribution," said Larsen. "I'm disappointed but not devastated. The win is in recognition of Gayle's strong leadership.
"It's back on the golf course and back on the mountain bike for me," Larsen said.