Utah governor, lt. governor win re-election in a landslide

Gary Herbert won re-election to the governor's office Tuesday. Undated. | Stock images, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — With approximately 75 percent reporting as of 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, unofficial results have Republican incumbent Gary R. Herbert as winning re-election as Utah’s governor, with Spencer Cox running on the ticket for lieutenant governor.

If the trend holds to the end of vote counting, Herbert will embark on another four-year term in January. He has been governor of Utah since 2009 after taking over from Jon Huntsman Jr. after Huntsman resigned to become U.S. Ambassador to The People’s Republic of China.

The Associated Press called the race in Herbert’s favor just minutes after polls closed in Utah, and not long after, the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association issued a statement regarding Spencer Cox, who is also an RLGA Executive Committee member.

Republican State Leadership Committee President Matt Walter issued the following statement on behalf of the RLGA:

I am thrilled to congratulate Spencer Cox on his election tonight as Utah’s lieutenant governor. His commitment to the people of Utah is evident through the job growth, educational investments and lower taxes that the Herbert Cox administration has prioritized in recent years. We know Utah’s future is bright and its success will continue over the next four years thanks to the ongoing leadership of Governor Herbert and Lt. Governor Cox.

On Herbert’s personal Facebook page, he issued a thank you for Utahns’ “vote of confidence.”

“I am humbled to serve another four years,” Herbert said. “Great things lie ahead for Utah!”

Democratic contender Mike Weinholtz’s office was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

The following vote counts represent 75 percent of the votes tallied:

  • Gary Herbert/Spencer Cox (R) — 67 percent, 515,023 votes
  • Mike Weinholtz/Kim Bowman (D) — 29 percent, 221,349 votes
  • Brian Kamerath / Barry Short (Libertarian) — 3 percent 22,430 votes
  • Superdell Schanze / Gregory Duerden (Independent American) — 2 percent 11,837 votes

Herbert’s conservative values were challenged by Overstock.com chairman Jonathan Johnson, who was also running for governor and forced Herbert into a primary after the incumbent failed to gather enough delegate votes at the Utah Republican convention. Herbert also faced criticism for comments he made in private meetings with lobbyists, referring to himself as “Available Jones.” However, despite all this, he still went into Tuesday’s election with a very strong approval rating in the state.

On one of Weinholtz’ stops in Southern Utah, he raised concerns regarding Herbert’s positions on public lands and water policy, specifically Herbert’s support of the controversial Lake Powell Pipeline. Statewide, Weinholtz was also critical of Herbert’s efforts regarding funding for education, expanding health care coverage and addressing air quality issues.

St. George Reporter Ric Wayman and Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this report.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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