COVID-19 Impacting Campaign Trail In Utah Governor’s Race

Jun 12, 2020, 6:44 PM | Updated: Nov 2, 2022, 6:28 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s four Republican candidates for governor are preparing for the final weeks of campaigning before the primary election. At the same time, two of the campaigns have been hit with cases of COVID-19.

Jon Huntsman Jr. and five of his staff members tested positive for the virus. One staff member who tested positive is already out of quarantine, while the rest remain isolated, according to the campaign.

A staff member for fellow GOP candidate Thomas Wright has also tested positive for COVID-19. Wright told KSL that he received test results on Friday that showed he tested negative for the virus. He said two other campaign workers also tested negative.

As for the gubernatorial debate scheduled for Tuesday, June 16, Wright and Huntsman confirmed that they will participate. A spokesperson for Huntsman’s campaign said they are still working on figuring out how Mr. Huntsman will be participating in the debate.

The other candidates appearing on the June 30th GOP primary ballot for governor are Lt. Governor Spencer Cox and Greg Hughes, former speaker of the Utah House of Representatives.

Running for governor during the coronavirus pandemic has been unusual and challenging said Boyd Matheson, opinion editor for the Deseret News and a host of KSL NewsRadio’s “Inside Sources” program.

“They’ve had to really adjust and adapt,” Matheson said.

Gone are the days of big rallies. Instead, voters have been given some interesting insights into how the candidates conducted themselves during the pandemic.

“In a very unique way this actually is a good way to test, ‘How good is this person going to be in a crisis for me if they happen to end up being my governor?’”

Matheson said the four Republican primary candidates know this is a crucial time and a predictor of the General Election in November.

“If you look at history — 40 years’ worth to be exact — it’s pretty certain that whoever wins the primary on June 30 is most likely to be Utah’s next governor,” Matheson said.

During the final couple weeks of the campaign, Matheson said the campaigns need to show restraint and not appear reckless with health guidelines relating to COVID-19.

“Discipline is going to be the name of the game,” he said. “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something on a campaign. I think voters are going to be watching really close over the last couple of weeks to see what campaigns are willing to do.”

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COVID-19 Impacting Campaign Trail In Utah Governor’s Race