SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Gary Herbert came away with a clear victory over challenger Jonathan Johnson in the primary election Tuesday night. Early returns placed the governor at more than 70 percent of the vote statewide, with little change as the night wore on.
Herbert secured the Republican Party’s nomination with an unofficial tally of 71.14 percent of the vote to Johnson’s 27.86 percent – 165,678 votes to 65,978 votes, respectively.
In Washington County, Herbert led with 59.36 percent of the vote – 8,285 votes to Johnson’s 5,671.
The results are preliminary and subject to change as additional mail-in ballots are received by the state. Revised numbers will be presented Friday.
Herbert told Fox 13 News he was “very gratified” and “humbled” with the results of the primary and had an optimistic outlook for the general election in November.
“We’re humbled in fact, by the huge numbers that are supporting the Herbert/Cox ticket,” the governor said.
Herbert attributed his success among the voters to the state’s track record related to the economy, transportation, infrastructure and so forth. They are all areas that have improved during his time as governor and made Utah a leader in the nation, he said.
“I think our positive message, one that’s uniting the state of Utah together, I think resonated with the people of Utah,” Hebert told Fox 13 News.
During a call with St. George News on Friday, Herbert said his message was one of unity and not divisiveness and that he has the ability to bring people to the table for the benefit of the state and its residents.
If re-elected in November, the governor said his focus will be on education and making Utah No. 1 in the nation in education.
“Our next goal is making sure education in Utah is the best performing education system in all of America,” he said.
Johnson called Herbert Tuesday night to congratulate him on his victory prior to addressing his supporters.
“It’s been an exhilarating and great 20 months,” Johnson said of his nearly two years of campaigning across Utah. During that time he said he has seen the greatness of the state and its people.
“I feel I am a better person for going through this campaign,” he said, adding that any failure of the campaign was his own. However, some good has come out of the loss, he said.
“We’ve changed the discussion in Utah,” Johnson said. Through his campaign, he said, the topics of Common Core, public lands and federal overreach have taken on a new light and importance.
Johnson remains the chairman of Overstock.com, yet said he will continue to work to make Utah a “great place to live.”
“Let’s continue to dream and make Utah great,” Johnson said to his supporters.
Throughout the campaign, Johnson has been critical of Herbert over matters of taxation, support of Common Core, being lax on pursuing the proposed lawsuit against the federal government over public lands, and more recently campaign donations.
Having cliched the Utah nomination for governor, Herbert secures his run in the general election and a possible third term in office.
Before Herbert can claim that third term however, he’ll face Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz, as well as Libertarian and Independent American party candidates Brian Kamerath and Del “Super Dell” Schanze and unaffiliated candidate L.S. Brown.
According to the state’s Elections Office, the turnout in the state’s 2016 primary election was the highest in 24 years. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 262,000 ballots had been counted with more ballots yet to be processed.
— Vote Utah (@ElectionsUtah) June 29, 2016
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