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Candidates scale back — or aren’t holding — election night parties due to COVID-19


Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, left, former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and former Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright participate a Utah gubernatorial Republican primary debate at the PBS Utah studio at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 1, 2020.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, left, former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and former Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright participate a Utah gubernatorial Republican primary debate at the PBS Utah studio at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 1, 2020. | Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

Social distancing means invitation-only events, including at a drive-in

SALT LAKE CITY — Like just about everything else in Utah’s entirely by-mail primary election, candidates’ watch parties on Tuesday are being affected by COVID-19.

Big events packed with supporters eager to celebrate a victory are being replaced as virus cases continue to spike with smaller, invitation-only gatherings in private homes and backyards, campaign headquarters or even a drive-in movie theater to accommodate social distancing — or are just being eliminated altogether.

Those who are holding more limited watch parties are stocking up on hand sanitizer and face masks along with the usual campaign signs, soft drinks and snacks. They’re also figuring out how to keep supporters entertained for an extra two hours after the polls close at 8 p.m. because of a required delay in releasing initial election results.

Final results are expected to take days if not weeks in some close races, including in the Republican gubernatorial and 4th Congressional District primaries, as ballots are being quarantined for 24 hours or more and social distancing protocols are limiting the number of election workers doing the counting.

Still, most candidates are doing something Tuesday night to mark the end of a primary election season that started before the deadly coronavirus hit the state and forced them to substitute appearances via video conferencing and other social media for traditional campaigning.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox — who’s running for the GOP nomination for governor against former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes and former Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright — considered not holding an event at all before deciding on an invitation-only gathering at a Sanpete County drive-in.

“They wanted to be near family and friends, but be extremely careful with social distancing. This gives supporters an opportunity to be part of election night but stay in their own cars and stay safe,” Cox campaign spokeswoman Heather Barney said.

Although it’s “Modern Cowboy” week at Mt. Pleasant’s Basin Drive-In Theater, Barney said video from the campaign trail will be shown until results are available. She said invitees will be instructed to bring a face mask and practice social distancing. Cox was appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert to head the administration’s response to the virus.

Huntsman, who was quarantined with COVID-19 until just recently, isn’t “having a big election night event but there will be several smaller gatherings that the governor will visit briefly throughout the day/night” on Tuesday, according to his campaign manager, Lisa Roskelley.

Masks are being advised for evening media interviews at the Huntsman campaign headquarters in the Salt Lake Hardware Building.

Hughes, an outspoken opponent of measures taken to stop the spread of the virus, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories

      

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