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Utah's presidential primary would be on 'Super Tuesday' under bill passed by Senate

The Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.
FILE - The Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.
Silas Walker, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah would join other states in holding a presidential primary on Super Tuesday next year under a bill passed Monday to the House that has a nearly $3 million price tag.

Sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, SB242 mandates presidential primary elections on the first Tuesday in March, the date for 2020's Super Tuesday, when the most states hold primaries.

"It will put Utah in the action," Bramble said.

Bramble noted the cost of the primary and said he didn't think "anything is certain in the budget." The House and the Senate are divided over a House plan to withhold $400 million in spending until tax reform is passed in a special session.

The bill, which passed 25-2, has a Democrat for a House sponsor, Rep. Patrice Arent of Millcreek.

In 2016, the Utah GOP decided to hold a presidential caucus instead of a primary, and lawmakers did not fund a primary for Democrats, requiring them to hold caucus votes for their party's candidates as well.

Both parties saw long lines of voters on the night caucuses were held around the state, but the actual turnout was less than what would have been expected at a primary election in hotly contested Republican and Democratic races.

"I can attest to the real need for primaries," Senate Minority Caucus Manager Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, said before the vote.