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Republican And Democratic State Delegates Set To Pick Their Candidates for June Primaries

Bob Nelson
Utah's state conventions this weekend will be held virtually, for delegates to decide which candidates each to put on the primary ballots in June.

Utah’s Republican and Democratic parties are holding virtual state conventions this weekend, where delegates will decide which candidates each party puts on the primary ballots in June. 

Eight candidates are competing to be the Republican nominee for governor. Three have already qualified for the June primary through gathering signatures: former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and former Utah GOP Chair Thomas Wright. 

So, this will be a big weekend for former House Speaker Greg Hughes, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton, and businessman Jeff Burningham, among other candidates, who need to be nominated in order to make it on the ballot. 

In polls of likely primary voters, Huntsman and Cox have consistently led the field since late last year. Some polls have pegged support for Hughes between 12-16%, putting him solidly in third place but trailing far behind Huntsman and Cox. Other polls found Hughes had support of 5-7% from likely primary voters — tied for third place with Burningham. However, there have been no polls conducted of state delegates and their preferences don’t always match up with those of the electorate. 

Seven Republicans and one Democrat are competing to be the party’s nominee to unseat first-term Democratic Congressman Ben McAdams. He narrowly won the fourth congressional district in 2018, beating incumbent Rep. Mia Love by 694 votes.

Six candidates are vying to be the Democratic nominee for governor. None of them have collected enough signatures to land on the primary ballot.

The candidates are University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson, former Utah Rep. Neil Hansen, business owner Zachary Moses, Nikki Ray Pino, Ryan Jackson and Archie Williams. 

Utah’s last Democratic governor was Scott Matheson. He left office in 1985, after serving two terms. 

Both conventions are using ranked choice voting, rather than rounds of voting. 

Normally, if the candidate a delegate voted for came in last place, they would vote again until only two candidates are left. This time, delegates will rank the candidates instead. 

Brigham Young University political science professor Quin Monson said that could really change the dynamic of the convention, especially because there won’t be speeches in between voting rounds. 

“Those appeals have been important in the past,” Monson said. “Because people can make appeals to the supporters of the eliminated candidates and direct their appeals in those ways.”

The parties expect to release convention results Saturday afternoon and evening.

Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson

Emily Means covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Means13

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