Utah House District 72 GOP primary race still too close to call as Elison leads again

Joe Elison, a candidate running for Utah House District 72, speaks as his opponent, Willie Billings, looks on during a debate hosted by the Washington County Republican Party for local candidates ahead of the upcoming primary election. The debates were held at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Joe Elison, a candidate running for Utah House District 72, speaks as his opponent, Willie Billings, looks on during a debate hosted by the Washington County Republican Party for local candidates ahead of the upcoming primary election. The debates were held at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

The positions of the tightly-contested House District 72 Republican primary election flipped again on Thursday after a third round of voting results were released, showing Joseph Elison leading Willie Billings by just seven votes, or 0.09%. 

  • Joseph Elison: 4,064 votes / (50.04%)
  • Willie Billings: 4,057 votes / (49.96%)
  • Total votes: 8,121 

The difference between these two candidates has been razor-thin since the initial election results were posted on Tuesday. Those initial results showed Elison led by 40 votes, but when the Washington County Clerk’s office added 187 votes to the total, Billings took the lead by 35 votes. 

Another 1,622 votes were added to the total on Thursday as late-arriving ballots continued to be counted, but no clear lead was gained. Elison gained 832 votes in the most recent update while Billings got 790 additional votes. 

House District 72 has a Republican primary battle between Joseph Elison and Willie Billings both of whom haven't been elected to public office before but do have signs on display in Hurricane, UT. June 28, 2022.

This is the closest state house race in Washington County and all of Utah. In Washington County, the two other primary races for House District 73 and 74, the difference between the winning and losing candidates were both about 26 percentage points.

The second closest primary is for House District 46 where Jeff Stenquist leads Carolyn Phippen by 300 votes or about 7.4%, which isn’t close enough for a recount unlike the District 72 race. 

Previous coverage: Billings, Lee, Stewart take lead in primary

If the difference between Elison and Billings remains extremely close, it could head towards a recount. Utah Code allows for a recount when the difference between the winning and losing candidate is 0.25%, based on the current results as of Thursday that difference would be close to 20 votes. 

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