Gubernatorial candidate Phil Lyman told supporters to hold out hope as county election offices continue to update their vote totals two days after the Republican primary election was called for Utah Gov. Spencer Cox. Lyman remained more than 10 percentage points behind Cox as of Thursday afternoon.

Lyman has yet to concede the race, telling the Deseret News on election night that he would wait until his team performed an analysis of the results.

“There are thousands of votes not yet counted and all of the votes still need a statistical verification,” Lyman posted on X Thursday afternoon. “Don’t get rid of your LYMAN yard signs just yet.”

The counties that still have the greatest number of outstanding votes are Utah County with 24,709, Salt Lake County with 16,268, Davis County with 9,960 and Cache County with 3,369, for a total of 54,306 votes.

The majority of these ballots, which are still in process, are likely to be counted on Thursday and updated Thursday evening, the Deseret News confirmed with Salt Lake County Clerk Lannie Chapman.

As of 4:50 p.m. on Thursday, Cox led Lyman 55% to 45%, a separation of 40,551 votes. Lyman would need 75% of the remaining votes to go his way to close the margin.

The 2024 gubernatorial primary appears on track to have a lower turnout than past years. So far, turnout stands at less than 44% of active registered Republicans compared to 47.5% in Utah’s 2022 Senate primary, 67% in the 2020 gubernatorial primary, 52.4% in the 2018 Senate primary and 39% in the 2016 gubernatorial primary.

Cox reacted to Lyman’s refusal to concede at his campaign’s watch party on Tuesday night in response to questions from reporters by saying that calling winning opponents to concede is common practice, regardless of the winning or losing margin.

“Conceding doesn’t mean the votes don’t count. That’s not a thing,” said Cox. “I could tell you if we had lost by 5 points I would have called and congratulated him. That’s how we roll. … There’s decency, then there’s whatever this is. I don’t care if he concedes or not, it doesn’t do anything to us or to me, that’s totally up to him.”

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The Associated Press called Utah’s gubernatorial race about half an hour after polls closed on Tuesday. A few minutes later, Lyman, who represents southeastern Utah in the state legislature, told the Deseret News the early call was “not fair.”

“We don’t call the game before the end of the fourth quarter,” he later told supporters at his election night watch party.

Lyman told the Deseret News he thought statistical analyses and third-party audits of statewide elections should “absolutely” be an automatic feature of statewide elections, in addition to the audits already conducted by the state’s Legislative Audit Committee, which he said wasn’t totally independent.

At his election night party, Lyman said his campaign had filed a lawsuit into another campaign’s signature gathering and had lawyers looking into what he described as a constitutional issue.

The Deseret News was unable to find record of a lawsuit filed and the campaign did not return attempts to clarify what Lyman referred to in his speech.

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Lyman also said he had an attorney looking into a measure in “the Constitution of Utah” that “says that a person who gets over 60% at the convention is automatically put on the general ballot.”

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While the Utah Constitution does not mention political party conventions, the Utah Republican Party Constitution does include a provision that says: “A candidate for an office that receives 60% or more of the votes cast at any point in the balloting process at the state nominating conventions shall proceed to the general election.”

In the years since the law establishing signature gathering as a route to the primary was passed in 2014, Lyman said “the occasion has not arisen” to challenge the results based on what is said in the party’s constitution. “But it definitely applies here.”

In a video recorded Wednesday night and posted Thursday morning, Lyman reacted to Cox’s victory speech and told his supporters the election was far from over.

“We’ll probably be waiting for a few more days now before we know,” he said.

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