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A Contender Emerges

Spencer Cox announces gubernatorial candidacy.


  • Enrique Limón

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox announced Tuesday morning that he’ll be throwing his hat into the ring to be Utah’s next governor.

“After much prayer and deliberation, [my wife] Abby and I are excited to announce we are running for governor of the great state of Utah in 2020,” Cox said in a statement. “Serving as lieutenant governor during one of the most successful periods in state history has provided me with the knowledge and experience necessary to sustain our prosperity and take full advantage of important opportunities ahead.”

Cox made the announcement in a video posted online. The glossy campaign kickoff plays up Cox’s farming skills. In the video, he rides a tractor and moves hay around as his cows stand around a muddy yard. “When I became lieutenant governor, it was important that we didn’t change, that we didn’t become something else,” Cox says in a voiceover, explaining why he still lives in Fairview and commutes 200 miles round trip each day to get to his Capitol office. “And we knew that if we stayed here that would be easier because, quite frankly, people don’t care that I’m the lieutenant governor, they don’t look at me any differently, and I love that.”

First elected to the Fairview City Council in 2004, Cox has been mayor, county commissioner and state representative before he was appointed to the lieutenant governor’s chair in 2013. He and Gov. Gary Herbert were reelected in 2016 after winning the Republican primary by 44 percent.

In his current role, Cox is the state’s chief elections officer in charge of increasing voter participation. He also plays a big part in the state’s mental health efforts, serving as the co-chair of the governor’s Suicide Prevention Task Force.

In June 2016, Cox delivered an emotional speech outside the City and County Building, to honor those who had been killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. He declared that those who had died were "not just statistics. These were individuals, human beings. They each have a story; they each had dreams, goals, talents, friends, family. They are you and they are me."

In his campaign announcement, Cox pledged to discuss solutions to improve Utah’s education, transportation, water, air quality and housing.

“It’s no secret that we have some problems in our country right now. We’re more divided than we’ve ever been at any time since the Civil War, and as we talk about solutions, it really is about all of us, looking for ways to better our community,” Cox says. “Utah is the place where we do that better than anywhere else, and we have an opportunity to set an example for the rest of the country.”