SALT LAKE CITY — After surviving a closer-than-expected Republican primary election, incumbent Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes had no trouble beating a viable Democratic challenger.
With ballots still to be counted, Salt Lake defense attorney Greg Skordas conceded the race Tuesday night. Reyes led Skordas 60% to 35% late in the evening, while Libertarian Rudy Bautista had just under 5% of the vote.
Reyes thanked Utah voters for participating in record numbers through mail-in and in-person balloting.
“Regardless of party or ideology, our state and nation are stronger when more of us educate ourselves on candidates and issues and participate in elections. It is exciting to see. No matter the outcome, hopefully we can remember those things that unite us as Utahns and Americans. And when all the ballots are counted, I look forward to serving four more years as attorney general, protecting Utah and all who live in this great state,” he said in a statement.
Reyes focused his reelection on his efforts to protect Utahns from child sex predators, street drugs, fraud, school violence and suicide, as well as safeguarding individuals’ private information from online hackers and cybercriminals. Reyes sued Big Pharma over alleged unlawful practices in the opioid industry.
He has made fighting human trafficking a signature issue during his time in office, and helped prosecute a three-state adoption fraud scheme earlier this year.
During a speech at the Republican National Convention in August, Reyes touted his fight against human trafficking in the United States and abroad. He also praised President Donald Trump for becoming an ally in that fight and directing money and resources to raise awareness, free victims, prosecute predators and empower survivors.
Trump endorsed Reyes’ reelection campaign.
Skordas, a Salt Lake defense attorney and former county prosecutor, and Reyes agreed on little during the campaign. Skordas also said Reyes “played” the Utah Debate Commission to move their only face-to-face contest until after mail-in ballots were sent to voters. Reyes denied the accusation.
“I’m proud of how we ran,” Skordas said Tuesday night. “Obviously, we’re disappointed. I thought we would do better.”
The two candidates engaged in a contentious debate last month, trading barbs on the Affordable Care Act and campaign finances, among other issues.
Utah is part of a multistate Republican lawsuit to overturn the health care law, which Reyes says is unconstitutional. Skordas called the lawsuit “immoral,” especially during a pandemic, and said people would lose their insurance coverage if it were successful.
Skordas also accused Reyes of being “for sale” because of the thousands of dollars in campaign contributions he receives from sometimes questionable businesses. Reyes said there’s never been a credible complaint lodged against the funds he has accepted.
Skordas said he expects more of the same from Reyes over the next four years.
“I have no reason to expect he’ll change, and that’s on me. We didn’t get the message across. We didn’t hit him on it the way we should have,” Skordas said Tuesday.
Deseret News/Hinckley Institutes of Politics polls showed Reyes with at least an 18-point lead over Skordas throughout the campaign, though the incumbent attorney general never rose above 50%.
Gov. Gary Herbert appointed Reyes as attorney general in December 2013 after former Utah Attorney General John Swallow resigned. Reyes won a special election in 2014 and was reelected to his first full term in 2016. This year, Republican delegates forced him into a primary election against Utah County Attorney David Leavitt, which he won with 54% of the vote.