Down by 39K votes, David Leavitt says he won’t concede attorney general race

(Tribune file photos) Republican candidates for Utah attorney general David Leavitt, left, and Sean Reyes.

Despite trailing by more than 39,000 votes, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt says he is not ready to concede against incumbent Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Updated vote totals released Thursday afternoon show Reyes leading by a 54.3% to 45.7% margin over Leavitt in the Republican primary, with a lead of 39,510 votes.

“Conceding doesn’t change the outcome,” Leavitt said Thursday. “But I do think that it diminishes the value of every studied and cast vote.”

Leavitt was out of the state on a trip that he said he and wife had long planned, win or lose, and said he isn’t really monitoring results.

But he said he wants to respect those voters who watched and studied the election up to election day itself and cast votes by mailing them — and their ballots may not yet have been included, considering time needed to deliver them and a 24-hour quarantine on them before counting.

“So we’ll take it day by day until every vote is counted,” Leavitt said. “And we’ll continue win or lose with the critical work of criminal justice reform.”

The GOP attorney general’s race has been one of the most hard-slugging in the state.

Leavitt — who battled and recovered from COVID-19 during the race — repeatedly said that Reyes keeps a “for sale” sign on the attorney general’s office by doing the bidding of big donors, fails to properly oversee controversial no-bid contracts and ignores Utah issues to seek fame on international human-trafficking raids.

Reyes countered that Leavitt is unqualified, proposes judicial reforms that are unrealistic and too expensive, and spent much of the past decade in Ukraine and Moldova advising their governments while Reyes was working in Utah.

Reyes has been attorney general since 2013. Leavitt has been the Utah County attorney since last year and previously was the Juab County attorney.

The winner will face Democratic nominee Greg Skordas in the general election.