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Utah governor looks to rebound in primary debate after harsh reception at GOP convention

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is set to debate his primary challenger in a face-to-face duel Tuesday on the heals of defeat for the nomination at the state GOP convention, where he was loudly booed by delegates who argued the incumbent is too moderate to continue representing the state.

Despite failing to secure his party’s nod, Cox is considered the overwhelming favorite among Republican voters statewide. The convention often favors farther-right candidates and expectedly endorsed challenger Phil Lyman, a former county commissioner turned state legislator.

Cox already had qualified for the June 25 primary before the April convention by gathering signatures. He is now looking to deliver his message to voters uninterrupted after going off-script to address his harsh reception from Republican delegates.

The Republican primary winner will face Democratic nominee Brian King, a state representative, in November. That GOP candidate is heavily favored to win in a deeply red state that hasn’t had a Democrat in the governor’s office since 1985.

Tuesday marks the midpoint of a marathon week of Republican primary debates in the Beehive State. Candidates for the state’s open attorney general position are also to meet in debate earlier in the day.

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