Associated Press calls two hot GOP primary contests

The final counting of ballots from the GOP and Democratic primaries is expected to be completed on July 7, according to Justin Lee, Utah's director of elections.

SALT LAKE CITY – Final results from the most hotly contested races in the Republican and Democratic primary balloting on June 30 are still pending, according to Justin Lee, Utah’s election director.

Despite that, the Associated Press has called two close races from the GOP primary.

The first of those calls went to Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, winning the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

The state ballot count as of July 6 had Cox with 36.4 percent of the more than 500,000 ballots cast in the GOP primary, compared to 34.6 percent for former governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. Rival candidates former Utah House speaker Greg Hughes and former state GOP chair Thomas Wright conceded the race on July 1.

The AP also called the race for the GOP nomination to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop in favor of former foreign-service officer Blake David Moore of Salt Lake City.

In that contest, Moore is leading a field of three other candidates. As of July 6, Moore had garnered about 31 percent of the more than 125,000 ballots counted so far, compared to 28.6 percent for his nearest rival, Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson. The other candidates in the race, former Utah Agriculture commissioner Kerry Gibson of Ogden and Mayor Katie Gibson of Kaysville, trailed with 23 percent and 21 percent of the vote respectively.

Still in contention, however, is Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District race.

As of July 6, state officials reported that Democratic candidate Darren Parry of Logan had garnered 50 percent of the ballots cast in the 1st District race, compared to 49 percent from Jamie Cheek of Ogden. But the margin between those candidates’ vote totals is only about 400 ballots.

At the state capitol, Lee said that a tally of the number of ballots still to be counted won’t be available until July 7.

As of July 2, about 20 percent of the more than 500,00 ballots cast in the primary election still remained to be counted. About 62,000 of those outstanding 111,000 ballots were counted prior to the Independence Day and review of the remaining 49,000 votes began July 6.

State officials explained that the unusual delay in ballot counting resulted from changes to the primary election process due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those changes included counting mail-in ballots postmarked on June 30, a day later than usual. Other changes included quarantining ballots for at least 24 hours and limiting the number of election officials in counting rooms in order to maintain social distancing.

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