Former Utah House of Representatives Speaker Greg Hughes announced Wednesday he is jumping into the race for governor.
He joins a field of six other Republican candidates: Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton, former Utah GOP Chair Thomas Wright, businessman Jeff Burningham and businessman Jason Christensen.
“It's a crowded race,” Hughes said at an auto shop in Millcreek Wednesday. “That's a good thing. You know what that makes it? Hard … But guess what else? That’s a two-way street. It just got harder with me getting in this race.”
Hughes served as speaker of the House from 2015 to 2018, and as a representative for a total of 15 years. Hughes has also been a real estate developer since his early 20s. During his time in the Legislature, Hughes led the controversial relocation of the state prison, helped block the expansion of Medicaid and spearheaded the effort to address homelessness in the Rio Grande area.
“Sometimes there's hard decisions that you know are going to be difficult, that are going to require discussions and debate,” Hughes said. “And you might not be liked but you have to do it. If you want to get something done.”
Hughes argued that his extensive experience in state politics makes him stand out from the rest of the field of candidates.
“I'm a conservative,” Hughes said. “I work with anyone that's willing to work to get something done … What our next governor needs to do is to be able to address and know how to address and bring the stakeholders around the table to address those challenges.”
Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson