In Utah, there’s a competitive Republican primary to replace three-term Gov. Gary Herbert, who is declining to run for a fourth term and stepping down from office next year.
The frontrunner for the race is current Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox, who has raised $2.46 million in the primary so far and has been endorsed by Herbert, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Cox, who has served as Lieutenant Governor since 2013, was previously a Utah State Representative, Sanpete County Commissioner, and Mayor of the city of Fairview.
Jon Huntsman, who served as the state’s governor from 2005 to 2009 before running for president in 2012 and serving as the US Ambassador to Russia under President Donald Trump’s administration, is running again for the Governor’s office.
And Hunstman, who has raised $1.45 million so far, is attempting to complicate Cox’s path to the nomination by appealing to independents and Democrats.
As Mother Jones recently reported, former Utah Democratic party chairman Jim Dabakis is launching an aggressive effort to convince Democrats to register as Republicans so they can vote for Huntsman, who holds the most politically moderate views among the field.
State Representative and small business owner Greg Hughes and Thomas Wright, a businessman and Republican party official who served as Chairman of Utah’s Republican party from 2011 to 2013, are the other two main candidates vying for the nomination.
The most recent poll of the race conducted by the polling firm Dan Jones & Associates for the Salt Lake Chamber showed Cox and Hunstman neck-and-neck with 30% and 29% of voters indicating they would vote for each, Hughes with 15% support, and Wright with 6% support.
Whichever candidate wins the GOP nomination will face Chris Peterson, a University of Utah law professor who Democrats selected as their nominee in an April party convention.