SALT LAKE CITY — A competitive four-way contest for the GOP nomination in the Utah governor’s race ends Tuesday as the final mail-in ballots are sent on their way.
That much-discussed race is far from the only one on the ballot, though. Republicans will choose a candidate to challenge the state’s lone congressional Democrat and whether to keep the incumbent state attorney general as their nominee.
Meanwhile, northern Utah voters are weighing their choices in the wide-open race to replace retiring longtime GOP U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop.
Utah was one of a handful of states that decided, like Idaho and North Dakota, not to open any in-person polling places this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The state has voted largely by mail for years, but typically also opens polling places for people who want to cast their ballot on Election Day. Lawmakers temporarily scuttled that for the primary to reduce the risk of people spreading the virus as case numbers spike in Utah.
They also pushed back the deadline, allow voters to postmark their ballots on Tuesday.
In several counties, same-day voters can go to drive thru voting centers where they can pick up a mail-in ballot, fill it out and return it.
Results may take longer than usual to become public, since most county clerks will be putting ballots in quarantine for 24 hours to prevent coronavirus infection, said state elections director Justin Lee. Results will also be posted online at 10 p.m., two hours later than in years past.
Here’s a look at the top races on the ballot:
— Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and ex-U.S. Russia Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. are considered the moderate front-runners in the GOP race for governor. Ex-House speaker Greg Hughes has gained on the right as he calls for a quicker reopening during the pandemic and Thomas Wright has positioned himself as the race’s outsider. Huntsman has touted his international experience while Cox has the backing of incumbent Gov. Gary Herbert, who isn’t running again. The Democrats have already settled on a nominee, though law professor Chris Peterson will have an uphill battle in conservative Utah.
- Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams is considered one of the country’s most vulnerable people in Congress after his narrow 2018 victory. Four Republicans want to challenge him in the suburban Salt Lake City district: State Rep. Kim Coleman, ex-NFL player Burgess Owens, nonprofit CEO Trent Christensen and ex-radio host Jay McFarland, who has pitched himself as a moderate.
- Meanwhile, voters of both parties in the GOP-dominated 1st District in northern Utah will be voting in primaries. On the Republican side, Blake Moore is ahead in the fundraising race despite a late entry. He’s up against Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt, who drew fire by allowing a concert during the pandemic. Ex-Utah Agricultural Commissioner Kerry Gibson and Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson are also courting voters. Democrats Jamie Cheek and Darren Parry are facing off for their party’s nod.
- Republican Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is also facing a primary challenge from David Leavitt, the top prosecutor in Utah County who’s been focused on criminal justice reform. The winner of that contest will face Democratic defense attorney Greg Skordas.