SALT LAKE CITY – Following online voting by delegates to the GOP state nominating convention on April 25, four Republicans will continue to compete for their party’s nomination to replace outgoing Gov. Gary Herbert.
In successive rounds of computer-assisted ranked choice voting, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox earned 52.64 percent of delegate votes, followed by former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes with 43.14 percent.
Since neither of the top candidates achieved the 60 percent threshold for the party’s nomination, Cox and Hughes will now compete in the GOP state primary on June 30.
Cox had already qualified for the primary ballot by collecting 7,000 registered voter signatures, as had rival candidates former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and former GOP party chair Thomas Wright.
With Hughes now also on the primary ballot, four Republicans will spend the next two months slugging it out for their party’s nomination while the Democratic candidate for governor has a clear path to the general election in November.
Earlier in same evening, University of Utah professor Chris Peterson cinched his party’s nomination for governor by winning 88 percent of delegate votes at the online Democratic nominating convention.
The race for the party’s gubernatorial nomination had been a seven-way competition, but Provo entrepreneur Jeff Burningham, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton and businesswoman Jan Garbett were eliminated during successive rounds of ranked choice voting.
Because statewide social distancing guidelines precluded a traditional political gathering, the GOP used a computer application called Voatz to facilitate delegate voting. To eliminate the need for multiple rounds of balloting, the Republican delegates ranked all seven gubernatorial candidates in their order of preference.
Voatz’ proprietary software then eliminated the lowest-ranking candidates and reallocated the votes of their supporters to second choices. That shuffling process continued until two final candidates emerged.
With surprisingly poor showings, Huntsman and Wright were also eliminated in the ranked choice voting, but moved on to the state primary by virtue of their signature gathering efforts.