Republican Spencer Cox Wins Utah Governor’s Race

Nov 3, 2020, 8:33 PM | Updated: 11:12 pm
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox...
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Republican Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox has won the race for Utah governor. He replaces the leader who endorsed him in a race that played out during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cox defeated Democrat Chris Peterson, a law professor who continued to advocate for a mask mandate as cases spiked this fall. Cox supported Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s decision to encourage them but not require their use.

The general election came after a hard-fought GOP primary where Cox beat out three other competitors for the nomination that’s often decisive in conservative Utah.

He will succeed Herbert, who first took office in 2009 and decided not to run again this year.

Shortly after he was declared the winner Cox thanked Herbert and his wife Jeanette during a  Facebook live address. “I want to thank them for their leadership and example leading us through the great recession, through the greatest prosperity in our state’s history, and through a once in one hundred years pandemic.”

Cox promised to be governor for everyone, not only members of his party. “I am not the governor of the Republican Party, I am the governor of Utah. I represent all of us. No matter what your race, creed, or religion, no matter what you believe, or who you are, we care deeply about you.”

The pandemic will be a priority once he takes office. “First and foremost our focus will be on the continued coronavirus response, to getting us back to normal. And then it really is all about educational opportunity for everyone in the state,” Cox said.

He explained, “I fear that those in rural Utah and in parts of urban Utah – the west side – too many of our kids are getting left behind and we have a duty to make sure that they have the same opportunities as those kids that live in more affluent areas.”

Cox had a message for the Utah Republican Party, “We have some very strongly held beliefs and things that we care about. If you really believe in low taxes, there is a responsibility that comes with that. It’s a responsibility to take care of those who are struggling, those who are living in intergenerational poverty, those who are homeless –  we have to do more for them.”

Peterson conceded the race in a statement that was released at 10:30 Tuesday night.

“I want to thank my family, staff, volunteers, and all of my supporters from the bottom of my heart. Traveling around this state, hearing Utahns’ stories, and standing up for working families during this campaign has been an honor.”

The statement continued, “I’m proud that we ran an ethical race focused on policy issues. This campaign was about building a new beginning for the Democratic Party in Utah. My name was on the ballot, but this was never about me. It was about fighting to make a positive difference in the daily lives of working people.”

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. tweeted his congratulations to Cox Tuesday night. The two faced off in the GOP primary in May.

KSL-TV contributed to this report.

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Republican Spencer Cox Wins Utah Governor’s Race