Pignanelli & Webb: The contests for U.S. Senate and Congress are dominating political discussions in Utah. But in two weeks, April 27, delegates at Republican and Democratic conventions will also partly determine the fate of candidates for other statewide offices and multicounty legislative districts. These are interesting races, despite not being in the spotlight.

“The big secret to winning elections is to get more votes than your opponent.” — Jesse Helms

Here are races and things to watch:

Convention dynamics: Regardless of the office, a convention environment has unique pressures and demands, which require smart strategy. Momentum can shift quickly in a convention. Almost as important as the competency and attractiveness of candidates are such things as having a plan to keep supporters in their seats for the duration of the event.

If multiple rounds of voting are required in a cramped, chaotic convention hall on a nice spring Saturday afternoon, some delegates just bag it and head for home. This will be especially important for multiple-candidate races like U.S. Senate, 3rd Congressional District, governor and some legislative contests.

Another dynamic is that many candidates are still collecting signatures for primary ballot placement, hoping to beat the approaching deadline. If they succeed, the convention is a formality, although still important for bragging rights. If they don’t obtain enough signatures, the convention becomes “win or go home.”

Governor’s race: At the GOP convention, Gov. Spencer Cox (who is already qualified for the primary ballot via signatures) will face retiring Rep. Phil Lyman, former Republican Chair Carson Jorgensen, activist Sylvia Miera-Fisk, and veteran Scott Robbins. This race is essentially defined as incumbent Cox versus his detractors on the party’s extreme right wing. Politicos will be watching the percentage of delegate votes that Cox wins. He could eliminate all opponents at the convention. Or, delegates could elevate one or two contenders, setting up a primary contest on June 25. Further, the Trump influence will be interesting as Jorgensen and Lyman are especially aligned with the former president. The convention outcome juxtaposed with the primary election results could confirm arguments that delegates are out of touch with mainstream Republicans.

Attorney general’s race: The contest to replace Attorney General Sean Reyes featuring Derek Brown (who will also likely have enough signatures for the primary ballot), Rachel Terry, Frank Mylar and Trent Christensen will also be illustrative of party dynamics. Brown is the true establishment candidate, having worked in the offices of Orrin Hatch and Sen. Mike Lee, in high-profile law firms, and as chair of the state Republican Party. As the presumptive strongest candidate, he is being targeted by his opponents. Terry has long-time experience in state and local government legal and administrative activities. Christensen is enjoying some support among far-right activists but, as of this writing, was still not licensed to practice law in Utah (a requirement in the state constitution).

Democrats Rudy Bautista and David Carlson also filed for attorney general, and their state convention will determine if a primary election is needed.

State Senate races: Candidates in multicounty legislative districts are vetted at the state conventions. With the retirement of Sen. Curt Bramble, the predominantly Provo seat (Utah, Wasatch Counties) is wide open. Former Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert has qualified for the primary ballot, but how he fares against Rep. Keven Stratton and former Rep. Brad Daw will be closely watched. Will Bramble endorse?

Sen. Jake Anderegg resigned last year from his seat (Utah, Salt Lake counties) and was replaced by Heidi Balderree in a special election. She now faces Emily Lockhart, daughter of beloved former House Speaker Becky Lockhart, and businessman Garrett Cammans. Lockhart and Cammans have qualified for the primary ballot. Can Balderree hold the affection of delegates to survive for a primary?

Well known for humorous and witty commentary on social media, Sen. Todd Weiler (Davis, Salt Lake) is challenged by privacy activist Ron Mortensen and Brady Tracy. As chair of the Judiciary Committee, Weiler has been influential in the states’ judicial operations.

State House races: House Speaker Mike Schultz (also qualified for primary) is challenged by Hooper Mayor Korry Green. Schultz is favored, but it’s always interesting for observers when a popular speaker has a convention opponent.

Democratic Rep. Brian King is retiring from his House seat (Salt Lake, Summit) to pursue the governorship. Both Democratic candidates, Hoang Nguyen and Jeff Howell, have qualified for the primary ballot. But how delegates cast their preference at their state convention district caucus will be keenly observed. Howell is the son of former Senate Minority Leader Scott Howell and Nguyen is a prominent businesswoman. Both have accumulated impressive endorsements from the left-of-center community.

Curt Bramble note: As mentioned above, Bramble is retiring from the Legislature after 24 years of service. Few legislators in state history have had as much impact on diverse issues as this hard-driving Provo accountant. Bramble possesses keen intelligence and an incredible memory. He relished tackling tough issues by gathering all the stakeholders to find common ground. His vibrant presence will be missed.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a former journalist and a semi-retired small farmer and political consultant. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser who served as a Democrat in the Utah state Legislature. Email: frankp@xmission.com.