ST. GEORGE — When Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson signed on as Greg Hughes’ running mate on Tuesday, he became the first Southern Utahn to enter the race for the governor’s office in 2020.
The timing of the announcement — which comes one to two months after frontrunners Spencer Cox and Jon Huntsman revealed their picks for the lieutenant governor's seat — is strategic, Iverson said.
“It was really about timing it with the state convention, to bring attention to this race at a time when the delegates are really starting to do their research,” he said.
Unlike competitors Cox and Huntsman, former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes has forgone collecting the 28,000 signatures needed to make it onto the ballot. Instead, he and Iverson are banking on support from rural and conservative delegates at the Utah Republican Convention scheduled to take place online on April 25. If no candidate captures more than 60% of the vote, the top two candidates from the convention will advance to the primary, according to party rules.
If Hughes and Iverson can make it to the primary, the duo has a path to victory, said former state lawmaker and rural Utah champion Mike Noel.
“Mr. Cox and Mr. Huntsman, I have no animosity towards either one of them,” Noel said. “They’ve been pretty flat lately, and they can battle it out for the moderate vote. I think Greg needs that rural Utah vote, that strong conservative vote to win it, and I think he’ll get it.”
In a recent interview with KUER, Iverson — a fifth-generation Utahn who grew up on a farm in La Verkin, a roughly 4,500-person city near Zion National Park — explained why his rural perspective is essential for creating leadership that reflects the whole state.
“We’ve seen tremendous economic growth and growth in general in basically four counties,” he said, describing Northern Utah’s urban corridor. “We need to take that prosperity and move it off the Wasatch Front — or, at least, share that prosperity throughout the state.”
The key, in Iverson’s view, is to focus on infrastructure projects that make it easier to live and work in rural areas. Those include the Lake Powell Pipeline, the inland port and rural internet initiatives.
Though Iverson is rooted in the politics of Southern Utah, he’s no stranger to larger political arenas. He served as an advisor on natural resources and public lands to Sen. Mike Lee in 2014 and as the president of Utah Association of Counties last year.
That experience and his record of conservative leadership are the reasons why Hughes sought him out as a running mate, the former Utah House speaker said in a statement released by the campaign.
“He has kept Washington County strong and prepared, with the lowest tax rate in the state and a full year of rainy-day funds in reserve,” Hughes said. “Victor has served [in] government at the city, county and federal level and is the person Utah can trust to be the next lieutenant governor.”