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Poll shows Cox far ahead of Lyman in Utah Republican primary

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Poll shows Cox far ahead of Lyman in Utah Republican primary


Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has a commanding lead over his primary challenger, state Rep. Phil Lyman, ahead of the June 25 primary election.

Cox, who is running for his second term in office, is among the most popular governors in the nation. So when state Rep. Phil Lyman was the top vote-getter at the GOP state convention in April, winning 67% of delegates’ votes, many were surprised.

But a new poll conducted by HarrisX for the Deseret News and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics shows Cox with 62% support among likely Republican primary voters, while Lyman garners 25% support. Another 12% of voters said they were unsure.

When undecided voters were asked which way they were leaning, Cox’s lead increased, with 71% choosing the incumbent compared to 29% for Lyman.

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The poll was conducted by HarrisX among 477 likely Utah Republican voters, including those who had already voted, from June 4-6, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute, said while there was some division evident among Republicans at the state convention, the poll results show convention delegates do favor “much more conservative” candidates than the Republican electorate statewide.

“This is not a completely new phenomenon, it’s something we’ve seen over the years,” Perry said. “We’re just seeing it more clearly this year than we have in the past.”

Cox was booed at the convention by some of the delegates, leading him to express frustration with delegates and the convention system.

“I’m a little worried about our caucus convention system,” Cox said at the time. “There are a whole bunch of people out there who want to get rid of this. … I hope you’re not giving them more ammunition today.”

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Lyman has waged an aggressive campaign, accusing Cox of mishandling funds during the pandemic and of being soft on immigration. He has also criticized Cox over government spending.

Cox has run on policies he’s championed during his first term as governor, including cutting taxes while increasing spending on education, and his battle against social media companies who he says are harming children.

The poll demonstrates how Cox’s message is resonating with a broad cross section of Utah voters.

“This poll clearly demonstrates Gov. Cox has broad support throughout the state and in the Republican Party. He’s ahead in every demographic, which is the position that he’s been trying to be in. Because of that, he’s in a commanding lead,” said Perry.

As part of the poll, Utah voters were also asked whether they have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Cox. Overall, 57% of voters said they have a favorable impression of Cox, including 66% of Republicans and 35% of Democrats. Among independents, 50% said they have a favorable impression.

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Cox, Lyman campaigns respond to poll

When asked for a response to the poll, campaign spokesperson Matt Lusty said they were “encouraged by these results which are reflective of our internal polling.”

“Governor Cox and Lieutenant Governor Henderson will continue to work every day to earn the vote of Utah Republicans by delivering a message of optimism and conservative leadership,” he said.

Lyman responded to the poll by saying he didn’t expect “conventional political polls to show Spencer Cox losing this race.”

“Yet, 62% of Utahns think our state is headed in the wrong direction,” he said.

Lyman said his internal polls show “a much tighter race,” and said he believes they have “more volunteers, more campaign donors, more enthusiasm, and a brighter vision for Utah.”

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“After a dominant performance in the Republican Convention, we’ve been focusing on building a strong new coalition of Republican primary voters who want more than just the status quo. We have a lot of work to do for a victory on June 25, and we are fighting hard for every vote,” he said.

Cox and Lyman will meet for a debate on Tuesday at 6 p.m., hosted by the Utah Debate Commission. The debate will be broadcast on the commission’s Facebook page and on several local TV channels, including KSL TV.



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Utah

The forecasts for Utah’s monsoon season are in. And it’s not very good news

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The forecasts for Utah’s monsoon season are in. And it’s not very good news


The outlook for this summer’s monsoon season shows Utah’s recent stretch of wetter-than-normal years may soon come to an end.

Below-average rainfall and above-average heat is in store between July and September, according to forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That’s bad news for water supplies, drought conditions and wildfire risk in an already dry state. But exactly where the worst localized impacts will be won’t be known until later in the summer, said Jon Meyer, assistant state climatologist with the Utah Climate Center.

“That will be a little bit touch-and-go as the season evolves into July and August. But at this point, overall, the region is expected to have an underperforming monsoon.”

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Utah’s summer rainy season is also expected to show up late — likely two or three weeks behind its usual July onset. Early signs of monsoonal activity, he said, should already be forming in Mexico.

“They should be seeing afternoon thunderstorms across the mountains right now, and that really hasn’t materialized. So it’s behind getting out of the gate. … I think that is confirming our fears.”

The delay is largely due to lingering soil moisture from the past two wet years, which keeps the monsoon weather pattern from starting. The above-average heat Utah experienced this June may dry out the dirt a bit, he said, but likely not enough — or not quickly enough — to negate the effects of that moisture.

Last year’s summer rains were also delayed. But when they finally arrived, they brought enough moisture to turn things around in a hurry.

“I’m remaining optimistic that that might save our bacon this year with the delayed start expected again,” Meyer said. “But we have quite a few indicators right now suggesting that won’t happen.”

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One of those indicators is the cycle of water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, the phenomenon that creates El Niño and La Niña weather patterns.

Forecasts still expect that cycle to shift to La Niña in the months ahead — which could theoretically boost monsoon rains — but Meyer said that transition has been delayed, too. So La Niña will arrive too late to have much impact.

“It dragged its feet just enough. … So we’re missing out on that ingredient as well.”

With the outlook for La Niña and other global atmospheric patterns not as favorable as they were last year, he said it’s likely Utah will only see sporadic rainfall — rather than the steady storms of summer 2023.

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National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration

This map shows the summer precipitation forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Utah is expected to see drier-then-normal conditions, paired with above-average heat.

For Utah communities, this return to a drier cycle could have big impacts. For one, Meyer said it’ll likely allow drought to creep back in.

“We’ve seen some whispers of drought expansion in southern and eastern Utah thanks to their dry and warmer spring. So what we’re very much focused on right now is how our summer pattern will evolve and affect drought conditions.”

That’s a particularly worrying thought for the desert region around St. George, where water is already hard to come by.

“Monsoon rain for southwest Utah is actually very profound and has a huge effect upon our water supply,” said Washington County Water Conservancy District General Manager Zach Renstrom. “It’s something very critical that we count on.”

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It’s vital, partly, because of its timing.

Monsoons typically hit southern Utah in July and August. Those months often have some of the hottest days of the year and ramped up demand for local water supplies — often for outdoor irrigation to keep grass and crops alive.

When it rains, people tend to turn off their sprinklers. To promote that mindset, he said the district offers a rebate on smart irrigation controllers, which use local weather data to help residents adjust their watering schedule.

“If we can save a gallon of water, we have the ability to save that water for multiple years. … So we always preach, ‘Hey, turn off your sprinklers.’”

Without the rain, however, pressure on local water supplies will inevitably rise. The area’s reservoirs are filled and ready to handle that demand this year, Renstrom said. That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be lasting impacts.

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As water storage gets drawn down from increased use, his thoughts turn to refilling it with future runoff from snowpack. But a poor monsoon season could hurt those chances, too.

That’s because soil that gets parched this year might soak up next year’s runoff before the water flows down to replenish reservoirs.

“It makes me actually very nervous about the following year,” Renstrom said.

“If we don’t get a good monsoon rain this year, not only does it affect this year, but it’ll actually affect the next summer. So it almost has a year-long effect.”

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2025 three-star QB Shaker Reisig decommits from Utah

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2025 three-star QB Shaker Reisig decommits from Utah


Shaker Reisig won’t be headed to Salt Lake City next year. The three-star quarterback from Tulsa, Okla. decided to decommit from the Utah, per an announcement on social media.

Reisig, who announced he would be joining the Utes back in February, was one of two QB’s on an eight-man class. He took an official visit to SLC over a week ago and came away feeling cold on his decision, according to sources.

Utah has four-star pro-style QB Wyatt Becker on the books for next year. The Pasadena prospect was named Mission League MVP before committing to Kyle Whittingham and the Utes. He threw for 2, 660 yards with 30 TDs and 7 INTs in 2023.

As for Reisig, he’s expected to land at Boston College, according to 247Sports. He’ll have a year to survey his options before making a hard commitment.

Becker’s growth will be important for the program, especially with Cameron Rising exiting the program after this season. He’ll likely be the next-in-line, but we’ll see if Whittingham sticks to that plan moving forward.

Utah will transition to the Big 12 later this year and is currently one of the favorites to win the conference. They’ll open the season against Southern Utah on Aug 29.





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Utah Supreme Court agrees to hear teens' climate change lawsuit

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Utah Supreme Court agrees to hear teens' climate change lawsuit


SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit brought by a group of teens challenging the state’s fossil fuel policies that they say harm their health and exacerbate climate change.

The state’s top court could revive a legal challenge that was dismissed in 2022 by a lower court judge. While he declared the teens “have a valid concern” about climate change and the impacts of the state’s fossil fuel policies, the judge dismissed their lawsuit, declaring that the issues fell within the realm of the legislative branch of government.

The teens appealed and the Court agreed to take up the case, setting arguments for Sept. 4. A notation in the docket indicates Associate Chief Justice John Pearce has recused himself from hearing the case. Prior to joining the Court, he was legal counsel for then-Governor Gary Herbert.

“We are hopeful that the Court will set this case back on the path towards trial, where it belongs. With each passing day that Utah’s statutory policy to maximize fossil fuel development remains in place, Utah’s government continues to increase the state’s dangerous air pollution and worsen the climate crisis, directly harming the health and safety of these brave young plaintiffs,” the teens’ attorney, Andrew Welle, said in a statement. “It is imperative that Utah’s courts hear this case so that these young people can secure their constitutional rights and prevent worsening harms to their health and safety.”

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This year, the Utah State Legislature rewrote the state’s energy policies with some bills designed to prop up Utah’s declining coal industry. FOX 13 News first reported last year that Carbon County mined its last coal mine. On Wednesday, the legislature will meet in special session to consider a renegotiated bill that originally cleared the way for a state takeover of the massive Intermountain Power Project in central Utah. IPP has been moving away from fossil fuels.





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