COX ON TOP
Could be first governor from
Sanpete County since early 1900
By Suzanne Dean
If voting trends reported at the end of the primary election Tuesday hold up, Utah could get its first governor from Sanpete County since the early 1900s.
At 10 p.m., when returns from most counties were posted a state election results website, Spencer Cox of Fairview was leading Jon Huntsman 37 to 34.8 percent.
Cox and his lieutenant governor running mate, Utah Sen. Diedre Henderson, had 140,437 votes while Huntsman and his running mate, Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi had 131,860. That was a difference of 8,577 votes.
Other candidates for governor were running well behind. Greg Hughes, former speaker of the Utah house, had 20 percent and businessman Thomas Wright just under 8 percent.
In Sanpete County, there was a veritable landslide for Cox and Henderson. They had 3,445 votes, or 68.6 percent. In Sanpete, Hughes, who touted his support for President Donald Trump, was in second, with 753, or 15 percent of the vote. Huntsman was third with 530, or 10.5 percent, while Wright was last with 296 or 5.9 percent.
While Cox’s lead looks solid, a significant number of votes weren’t in at 10 p.m. reporting time. The results did not reflect Iron, Sevier or Utah County.
And in the all-mail election, voters could mail their ballots anytime before 5 p.m. Tuesday. Many votes mailed in the final days, or on the last day, before the election concluded will not be received or counted until next week.
Sanpete County reported just under 5,000 votes. But Sandy Neill, the county clerk, said she expected 1,500 to 2,000 more ballots to come in.
“If we win, we’ll be ecstatic,” Cox said Tuesday night as an automobile-based (because of the coronavirus) election night party started to convene at the Basin Drive-in in his hometown of Fairview.
“I feel a huge obligation to represent rural Utah, and especially this part of the state. We’ve had so much support here in Sanpete, so we would love the opportunity and we’d be very excited to represent the state.”
Cox was back in Fairview Tuesday afternoon holding a press conference via Zoom in the basement of CentraCom Interactive, the telephone, now telecommunication, company his family has run for three generations.
Cox’s campaign was centered on a commitment to visit every incorporated town in the state. He had a sticker made up for each of the 248 towns, and sometime during his visit to a town, he ceremoniously pasted the sticker for the town on his campaign RV.
“It feels really good to be coming back home,” he said. “It’s been incredible to visit all 248 cities and towns. We’ll be putting a sticker on in Fairview (today) and then going to Mt. Pleasant.”
“We’ve had tremendous support in Sanpete County. People in Sanpete have made thousands of calls for us.”
In the race for attorney general, incumbent Sean Reyes was leading David Leavitt, county attorney in Utah County, 54 to 46 percent. Notably, Utah County votes were not included in the results.
In Sanpete County, Reyes, whose office has supported Trump administration efforts to end Obamacare and end protection for DACA recipients, had 59 percent of the votes to 41 percent for Leavitt.
The race for the Republican nomination in the 4th Congressional District, which takes in areas of Sanpete County north of Pigeon Hollow Junction, did not appear to be coming out the way the party establishment expected.
The contenders were Burgess Owens, a former NFL football player; Kim Coleman, a state representative from West Jordan; Jay “JayMac” McFarland, a former talk-radio host; and Trent Christensen, at attorney and head of a venture capital firm.
Coming out of the state Republican convention, Coleman was well in the lead. But as of Tuesday, Burgess had a 43 to 23 percent lead. McFarland had 22 percent and Christensen 11 percent.
In Sanpete County, Burgess had 1,286 votes. Coleman had 391, Christensen 296 and McFarland 253.
The final race on the ballot in Sanpete County was between Sanpete County Commissioner Steve Lund and Juab County Commissioner Clinton Painter for the Utah House of Representatives.
As of Tuesday night, Lund was in the lead, with 3,901 votes, or 55 percent to Painter’s 3,166 votes, or 44.8 percent.