Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, and his wife, Abby, greet supporters as they arrive at his election night event at the Basin Drive-In Theatre in Mt. Pleasant, Sanpete County, on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Cox is running for the GOP nomination for governor. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and former Gov. Jon Huntsman remain locked in a battle for the Republican gubernatorial nomination after initial primary election results were released Tuesday, trailed by former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes and former Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright.
Cox had 108,960 votes to Huntsman’s 107,594 in the results that weren’t posted until 10 p.m., two hours after the end of voting in the by-mail election because of changes made in the primary election as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that included eliminating polling places and permitting ballots to be postmarked Tuesday.
Hughes, who portrayed himself as the most conservative candidate and touted his support for President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, had 63,173 votes. Wright, the owner of a Park City-based real estate company, had 22,937 votes.
The winner of the primary election race will face Democrat Chris Peterson, a University of Utah law professor, in November for a seat that hasn’t been open since 1992 — and has not been held by a Democrat since the 1980s. Current Gov. Gary Herbert did not run for reelection after more than a decade in office.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman Jr., his wife, Mary Kaye, right, and their daughters, Gracie Mei, left, and Asha, second from right, walk outside the campaign’s office in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.
The race was highlighted as one to watch by Politico in the three states holding primaries Tuesday: Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma. The online political news source posted a story headlined, “Huntsman at risk of shocking defeat in Utah,” that suggested voters questioned why he was running again and whether he would leave again if elected.
Initially, there were eight GOP contenders in the race. Cox, Huntsman and Wright secured a spot on the primary ballot by gathering voter signatures, while Hughes competed only for delegate support at the party’s state convention. Delegates advanced both Cox and Hughes to the ballot.
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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News