During this Thanksgiving season, I'm wondering who Governor-Elect Spencer Cox is thinking of. Is our next governor the embracing populist who so infatuated each side of the political aisle with his earnest posts on social media? Or is he just one more predictable homer for the big boys—the big business, church and rural interests that dominate every facet of Utah politics and policy? Is he another Gary Herbert, or Herbert-lite? Or is he Spencer James Cox, Fairview, Utah's very own Mr. Smith, the idealist who will stand for right because it's the right thing to do?
Is Cox more bull or bull pucky? This is one rodeo Utahns like me have seen many times. Many disenfranchised Utahns—including yours truly—are taking potshots at Cox at nearly every turn. My own motive is to wake up Cox to the new reality that he is uniquely positioned to cement himself as a great Utah governor, a real unifier—not a paper llama.
It's fair to ask, "Why should Cox care about you, you fat-assed Greek?" And the answer is that he doesn't need to care about me—or the people who read this column. Nor those who mock him on Twitter, nor the ones who didn't vote for him for governor—a half million persons all told. Cox was essentially elected governor in June when the results of the Republican primary were tallied. That's his constituency. Now, he's firmly ensconced right where his childhood hayloft dreams led him.
We all know Cox is thankful for faith, family and flag. But when is Cox going to thank Utah Sen. Mike Lee for helping to send him over the top? Yeah, that Mike Lee, the guy who sent our page views through the roof when we posted that he'd won the Worst Utahn award in our annual Best of Utah issue. Creepy Mike got so many votes that we might have to retire the award or name it in his honor—and the votes were cast and counted before Mike disgraced his faith by comparing the lascivious Trump with Captain Moroni and before he became an early adopter darling on the whacktoid conspiracy website Parler.
But, didn't Lee endorse Jon Huntsman Jr, for governor, you ask? Exactly. For thousands of Democrats who crossed the Rubicon and registered as Republican in order to have a meaningful vote in that primary, that was a bridge too far. I'm convinced Lee's Huntsman endorsement cost Jon Jr. precious votes. And for that, Cox owes Swipe Lee a Sanpete County turkey of thanks.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cox, I've assembled below messages that were sent to me in recent days from persons working in the Utah hospitality industry. It's a mild understatement that Gary Herbert's inactions are killing these folks. On July 1, the daily COVID-19 case count was 500. Since then, Herbert screwed up, and now hundreds have died. So, I've been asked to pass these messages on to you.
If you're up to it, I'll walk you around town to meet these folks. They will not have a happy Thanksgiving, and they need your help—not homilies, but real help. Gary is a dead end. It's on you now—the closures, the cases and the dying, too. There's no reason to start the clock in January. Let's start the clock now:
"We have lost so much business because of the 10 p.m. thing. We are bleeding money, so hopefully gift cards will help?"
"[The 10 p.m. closure] is a death knell on us. It's worse than forcing 100% closure since we are now at 10% of 2019's revenues but with no consumer confidence this year. I still have the full expenses: like rent and staff, and I still have to order food I don't know if I can sell."
"The anti-maskers aren't my clientele. They can go milk cows without a mask. I want my employees to be safe. [The anti-maskers] scream about freedom, but they never come in. The just wave flags and scare people away."
"Herbert and Cox should tell their farmer friends to grow all the crops and feed all the animals with 80% less food and water. Let's see how long they survive. That's what they want us to do. They are killing us, but they want to brag about the economy."
"If we (the clubs and restaurants) are so bad, why wasn't COVID spreading like it is now the past eight months? We had masks and social distance from Day 1. COVID wasn't out of control, and it wasn't us. They opened up [the state], and it's a disaster. Now, they take it out on us."
"[Herbert] loosened home restrictions while keeping business restrictions. The data shows private social gatherings is where it's being spread, not businesses. Thanks for putting the nail in the coffin for so many hospitality businesses. Herbie, you suck!"
"'Give me a great economy—or give me somebody else's death.'—Gov. Herbert"
"I'm completely appalled by the Cox/Herbert ignorance plus the disconnect in the Capital City and how they're killing the culture. I am not W-2'd—I am the landlord (paid for out of my income), and I've not had income since March 1. I've depleted cash, PPP, rent grants and have little left. Shit show!"
"We are down to four of 27 employees. My cook quit, so that's cool; the others have full-time jobs, I think. Some are unemployed and can't qualify for unemployment because they mostly work for tips. So, yeah, this is super-screwed."
"My restaurant did three covers total on a Friday night. Before the hours changed, we did 30, and we don't stay open past 11, anyway. He scared everyone off. How can I pay my employees' salaries at that level?"
Happy Thanksgiving, Spencer, from the guts of Utah.
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