The former governor’s comeback bid fell just short in last week’s gubernatorial primary.
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox has defeated former Gov. Jon Huntsman for the GOP nomination for governor, ending Huntsman’s comeback bid in the Republican primary.
The Associated Press declared Cox the winner on Monday, nearly a week after last Tuesday’s primary. Cox leads Huntsman in the vote count, 36 percent to 35 percent. Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes was third, with 21 percent.
Huntsman won two gubernatorial elections, in 2004 and 2008, before leaving office to serve as President Barack Obamaâ€™s ambassador to China. After an ill-fated 2012 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump tapped Huntsman to serve as his ambassador to Russia, a post Huntsman left last October.
But Huntsman returned to Utah to face a different political landscape than the last time he was on the ballot. Cox has served as lieutenant governor since 2013 and was endorsed by outgoing Gov. Gary Herbert.
Cox will face Democratic nominee Chris Peterson, an attorney and consumer advocate, in the general election. Republicans have won every gubernatorial election in Utah since 1984.