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Spencer Cox declared winner of Utah governor’s race as first results come in

By Connor Richards special To The Standard-Examiner - | Nov 3, 2020
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Voters drive into a polling place held at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ church in Lehi on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

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A voter enters at a polling place held at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ church in Lehi on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Poll worker Ankur Garg assists a voter at a polling place held at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ church in Lehi on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox will be Utah’s next governor after the first round of results from Tuesday’s election showed him with a massive lead over his challengers in the gubernatorial race.

The first round of election results from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, released around 8 p.m., showed Cox with 551,978 votes, 62.89% while Democratic candidate Chris Peterson had 287,165 votes, 32.72.%.

Libertarian Party candidate Daniel Cottam had 2.87% votes and Independent American Party candidate Greg Duerden had 1.52%.

Cox said he had spoken with Peterson on Tuesday night and had a “wonderful conversation,” adding that he wanted “to point out how impressed I was with Chris and the campaign that he ran.”

“It’s obviously an emotional night, something I never even dreamed was possible growing up here,” Cox told reporters on Tuesday night. “They don’t let kids from Sanpete County do things like this, ever. And just never expected to be in a position to have this opportunity.”

In a statement, Peterson’s campaign said the Democrat “is spending time with his family and closely watching the results as they come.”

“The election is over when every vote is counted,” the campaign said. “Not only with his race, but nationally and here locally where some races are being decided by 50 votes.”

Cox ran alongside state Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, while Peterson, a business law professor at the University of Utah, ran with Karina Brown, the president of the nonprofit Cache County Friends of the Children’s Justice Center Board.

Cox and Henderson narrowly defeated former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. and running mate Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi in the June primary, receiving 36.15% of primary votes compared to Huntsman and Kaufusi’s 34.95%.

The lieutenant governor has had a large role in the state’s COVID-19 response, including as the head of the Utah coronavirus task force.

Throughout the campaign, Cox has said he opposed a statewide mask mandate and preferred local action by county leaders. The Democratic candidate, meanwhile, has called for a statewide mandate.

Both Cox and Peterson have pointed to telework and investment in broadband infrastructure in rural parts of Utah as ways to increase economic and educational opportunities across the state, while at the same time preventing congestion in Utah and Salt Lake counties.

A total of 1,214,681 ballots had been processed statewide as of 8 p.m., according to state election officials.

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