SALT LAKE CITY — Filipino American Sean Reyes has won the Republican primary in his bid for re-election as Utah attorney general.
The Associated Press called the contest for Reyes on Friday, when the latest statewide election results showed him with 54% of the vote over Utah County Attorney David Leavitt, who garnered just under 46%.
Reyes said he wants to build upon what’s he’s done during his first seven years in office, with his focus set on protecting the people of Utah.
“Protect them from what?” he asked. “From violent crimes, from drug traffickers, from human traffickers, from other types of threats, like the opioid epidemic.”
As the state’s top cop, Reyes also plans to influence issues like criminal justice and police reform.
“On one hand, we want to be aggressive, going after the really bad actors, but we want to make sure that those — for instance, addicts — who don’t need incarceration, they get help, they get treatment,” he said. “(We) want to make sure that those in communities of color, all communities, are safe, but also particularly communities of color.”
While Reyes prioritizes issues within Utah, he said he can use his position to advocate for Filipino Americans at a national level as well and is currently pushing for a vote on the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act.
The act went into effect back in 2016 but was eliminated by the Trump administration in 2019.
“This Family Reunification Act would allow, if passed, naturalized Filipino World War II veterans to have their children to come from the Philippines, or wherever they are, to the United States and immediately get green cards,” Reyes said, “and they could avoid the labyrinth of the naturalization and immigration process.”
Reyes may have won the primary, but it turned out to be a hotly contested race, with his opponents criticizing him for getting involved with the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.
Reyes said he plans to move forward with that even amid the current pandemic and employment uncertainty.
“The ACA, I analyze it as a lawyer,” he said. “I believe the ACA is unconstitutional, and so from a legal standpoint, I approach it that way.”
Reyes, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, will now face Democrat Greg Skordas and Libertarian Rudy Bautista in the general election on Nov. 3.