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News Guide: President Donald Trump wins Utah again

By LINDSAY WHITEHURST Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump won Utah again, defeating Democrat Joe Biden in the deeply conservative state.

Utah hasn’t elected a non-Republican presidential candidate since 1964.

State voters also elected Republican Spencer Cox as Utah’s first new governor in more than a decade in Tuesday’s election in Utah, where voters are also deciding other U.S. House races and several state ballot initiatives.

Utah eclipsed its voter participation record from the 2016 election of 1,152,369 votes cast, the state election’s office tweeted Tuesday morning. For some close races, vote-counting could stretch out for days without a declared winner since vote-by-mail ballots generally take longer to count.

Here’s a look at the top races:

PRESIDENT

President Trump won Utah as expected just as he did four years ago.

Utah leans heavily Republican with GOP registered voters outnumbering Democrats by more than a 3-to-1 margin.

While a political culture rooted in the state’s predominant religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, makes many voters uncomfortable with Trump’s crudeness and brashness, most have stuck with their party.

GOVERNOR

Cox, the current lieutenant governor, was considered a shoo-in to move into the state’s top political spot in the deeply conservative state and easily defeated his Democratic opponent Chris Peterson.

Peterson criticized Cox for Utah not implementing a mask mandate to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The state put in some new restrictions during a surge in virus cases that has burdened hospitals but opted to do mask mandates in only the hardest-hit counties.

Cox had the endorsement of his boss, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who is not running again for the first time since he took office back in 2009. A moderate and onetime critic of President Donald Trump, Cox beat former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. in the GOP primary.

U.S. HOUSE

The race for Utah’s 4th Congressional District was too close to call between first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams and Republican challenger Burgess Owens, a former football player and frequent Fox News guest. The race for the seat McAdams flipped two years ago has been polling nearly tied, with a whopping combined total of nearly $19 million poured into the state.

The district, located largely in the Salt Lake City suburbs, is considered one of the few tossup races in the country.

GOP candidate Blake Moore, a principal at a Salt Lake City management consulting firm, won the first wide-open race for Northern Utah’s 1st Congressional District in nearly two decades following the retirement of Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop.

Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart clinched another term, and fellow Republican U.S. Rep. John Curtis was expected to do the same.

BALLOT INITIATIVES

Voters approved changing the Utah constitution to remove a clause allowing slavery as a form of punishment. Ballot counting continued on others, including a change to a constitutional requirement that income tax money be used for education. Lawmakers have said allowing that money to be used for other programs for children and people with disabilities is a necessary revision to shore up future revenues. Some advocates have opposed the change, saying it would do nothing to help already underfunded programs.

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Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.