State GOP Convention: Billings wins over delegates, Cox and Hughes lead governor nominees

Photo illustration | Photo by 3dfoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus

ST. GEORGE — Following the first-ever digital Utah Republican State Convention Saturday night, William Billings of Hurricane won over the most state delegates for the Utah House of Representatives’ 71st District over incumbent Brad Last, forcing a primary run-off.

William Billings speaks to a crowd at the Quail Lake Estates in Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 10, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

Last has served for 18 years as the representative for District 71, a time span which is part of the reason for the outcome, Billings told St. George News. Billings garnered 56.25% of the vote but said he had expected to receive more than 60% –but a few people who supported him ended up not voting, he said. (see Ed. note)

As Billings mentioned earlier in the year at his first event, he kept his word in not gathering signatures in order to win the nomination. He said he believes the caucus is what holds him accountable to the people.

“I think he (Last) expected me to win because there’s no reason to go gather signatures unless you are afraid of losing in that venue,” he said.

Billings said he plans to meet with around 5,000 people through virtual meetings before the primary on June 30. One of his successes so far in this race is that people want change, he said. People don’t want lifetime politicians. Moving forward, he said they are going to hold Last to his voting record.

“I don’t want to win this thing,” he said. “I want the person who the people want to win.”

For the gubernatorial nomination, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and his running mate Diedre Henderson came in first at the convention, garnering 52.6% of the vote. In a video post on Twitter Saturday night, Cox said the solution to Utah’s problems are going to come from Utah residents and also that he was blown away by the support.

Coming in second at 45.04% was Greg Hughes and his running mate Victor Iverson, a Washington County commissioner. According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, Iverson shares Hughes’ frustration with how the state is dealing with pandemic.

Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson shares what projects of note the county is working on in 2020, St. George. Utah, Jan. 13, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

In a string of text messages to Gov. Gary Herbert’s top aides in the middle of March, he accused Herbert and Cox of sitting idly by as the state’s economy went up in flames, according to the article.

Cox and Hughes will compete against former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who garnered enough signatures before the convention but placed sixth among delegates, in the June 30 primary.

For the U.S. House of Representatives 2nd District, incumbent Chris Stewart received 71.7% of the delegate vote. Stewart has represented the 2nd District since 2013 and in a victory statement said he was humbled and grateful for the strong delegate support he received over the last few days of convention voting. He expressed gratitude for the hard work and leadership Derek Brown and his team demonstrated to pull off an unprecedented virtual GOP convention.

“I continue to trust in the convention system to vet and select the best candidates to represent our conservative values and I’d like to thank the delegates for their sacrifice and devotion to serving our county,” he said in the statement. “The world is in commotion right now.  But our nation is no stranger to challenges, and like those who have come before us, we will rise and meet them boldly.”

For the Attorney General, incumbent Sean Reyes was forced into a primary run-off with David Leavitt. Reyes had 57.51% of the vote to Leavitt’s 41.7%.

Utah’s Democrats also held their state convention virtually on Saturday.

The primary election will be held June 30 with the main election on November 3 that includes the race for U.S. president between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Ed. note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the number of years Brad Last has served as a representative for District 72.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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