Utah Election Update


After securing a plurality of the vote, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox (R) has emerged from a tight three-way race as the Republican gubernatorial nominee and likely successor to his current mentor, Governor Gary Herbert (R). The Lt. Governor defeated three opponents – including former Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. and former House Speaker Greg Hughes. Governor Herbert endorsed Cox and placed him in charge of leading the state’s coronavirus task force. Lt. Governor Cox has proposed a plan to start rebuilding the state’s economy by prioritizing critical supply chains; fortifying Utah’s agriculture and water supply; improving telehealth capability; modernizing education with technology improvements; expanding telework initiatives; and replenishing the state’s rainy day fund.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Peterson did not have an opponent this primary cycle but will have an uphill challenge in November. Peterson is a professor of business law at the University of Utah. He supports raising teacher salaries and increasing technology and special needs support in the state’s public schools. He has pledged to introduce a Utah Young Farmers Success Act which would leverage student debt forgiveness. Peterson also would like to see the state transition to a Tier 3 gasoline and invest more in wind and solar energy facilities.  


The Republican nomination contest for the office of Attorney General was, at times, a particularly testy affair between current Attorney General Sean Reyes and Utah County Attorney David Leavitt with both men accusing the other of attempting to buy the office at one point during the campaign. At the end of the battle, it was the incumbent that emerged victorious. Attorney General Reyes defeated Leavitt and moves on to face Democrat Greg Skordas in November. Reyes is running on his seven years of experience as the state’s top lawyer combined with bread and butter security and law enforcement issues. Skordas supports Medicaid expansion and has hit Attorney General Reyes for joining the suit against the ACA when Utahns have approved an expansion ballot initiative. Attorney General Reyes begins the general election campaign as the odds-on favorite.


Want to know more about the Utah Primary or other 2020 state election contests? Contact Meghan Holihan.