Utah Republicans have selected Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox as their nominee for Utah governor. Cox will now face Democrat and University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson in the general election.
Utah hasn’t elected a Democratic governor in 40 years, but Cox told reporters Tuesday he’s not taking a win in November as a given.
“We look forward to having a robust discussion and debate,” Cox said. “We're going to work just as hard towards November, as we did to get to this point.”
Cox said he’ll focus the rest of his campaign largely on the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our focus is going to continue to be on the health, safety and welfare and the economy,” he said. “Balancing that economic opportunity with health and safety is something that every state is dealing with right now.”
Peterson said it’s time to break up complete Republican control of the state. The party has held a majority of seats in both houses of the state Legislature and has controlled the governor’s office since the 1980s.
“[It’s been] a long time since we've had a breath of fresh air in our government that could try to nudge us towards a more centrist and reasonable path,” he said.
Peterson said right now, to deal with the pandemic, Utah should be focusing on slowing the spread of the virus.
“The first step is we've got to get the virus under control,” he said. “That means following the advice of scientific experts. It means washing our hands. It means wearing masks.”
Peterson and Cox both said Tuesday they also want to focus on increasing the state’s education funding. Utah ranks last in the nation for per pupil spending.
Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson