By Jim EllisApril 28, 2020 — The Beehive State Republicans and Democrats gathered in respective virtual settings to conduct their nominating conventions on Saturday and posted record delegate participation figures. Both parties were looking to advance candidates into an open Utah gubernatorial primary and in four congressional districts where three incumbents are seeking re-election. A total of 93 percent of 3,850 eligible Republican delegates cast their votes online, while 85 percent of the 2,203 Democratic delegates did the same.
In both parties, if a candidate receives 60 percent of the delegate support the individual is automatically advanced into the June 30 primary election. This year, the vote will be conducted through an all-mail procedure under emergency legislation that Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed on Friday. Additionally, candidates who have qualified through the signature petition process also earn a primary ballot position. Candidates have the choice of only participating in the convention, only gathering signatures, or doing both.
If no one receives 60 percent, the top two finishers advance into the primary. The delegates used the ranked choice format to prioritize their votes, since multiple rounds were needed in most races. In a round, the last place candidate is eliminated and the remainder advance to the next vote. The process ends with either one candidate advancing to the primary ballot outright, or the top two moving forward if no one reaches 60 percent but a pair at least touch 40 percent.
The open Republican gubernatorial race was the main attraction as seven candidates competed for convention votes including Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who has retiring Gov. Herbert’s endorsement and leads in the most recent polling, and former governor, US ambassador, and 2012 presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.