Cushman: I Am Voting Spencer Cox for Governor and You Should Too


(Photo by Justin Fuchs | Courtesy U.S. Air Force)

By KC Ellen Cushman, Opinion Writer


Before school was moved online in response to the pandemic, I had the opportunity to hear Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox speak at a Hinckley forum about what the next ten years in Utah will look like. This experience gave me a lot of respect for Cox. He spoke about issues specific to Utah in a knowledgeable way. He didn’t use any notes, demonstrating that he was well-versed in the diverse issues he spoke about. He held the focus of this discussion on Utah and the path it ought to take over the next decade, showing how much he cares about this state.

In May 2019, Cox announced that he intended to run in the 2020 governor’s race, quickly becoming a front-runner. Cox has recently started slipping in the polls as former Gov. Jon Huntsman and other candidates have made small gains, but he should not be forgotten by voters. Nearly a third of Utahns remain unsure of how to vote for governor this year. With so many Utahns still undecided, I urge them to consider casting their ballot for Spencer Cox this November.


Cox Places Importance on Integrity

Cox has time and time again proven himself to be not only capable of doing his job well, but also with integrity. Cox’s political career began when he was appointed to fill a vacancy on his city council. From there, he has severed as a mayor, county commissioner and state legislator. Cox had not even served a full year as a state legislator when the governor asked him to be his lieutenant governor — a highly-coveted offer that Cox almost declined because he did not want to uproot his young family. Cox places so much value on his family that he commutes several hours from Fairview (a small town of 1300) each day in order for his family to keep the rural life they love. Cox often expresses his love for rural Utah. He hasn’t abandoned his roots and will continue to stand by those communities if elected governor.

Cox has used his time as lieutenant governor to build his record “as a politician willing to speak out in the face of a perceived wrong.” A strict conservative, Cox drew headlines when he gave a speech at a vigil held for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, where he honored the victims and apologized for his own past homophobic behavior. Following the failure of a bill that would ban conversion therapy bill in Utah, Cox once again addressed the LGBTQ community, sitting on the floor of the Capitol Building with LGBTQ youth advocates and reading them an apology letter from the governor. It takes integrity to look people in the eye and admit failure, and Cox has shown a willingness to do just that on several occasions.

Cox has also taken a public stand against corruption and petty politics. As a state legislator, he was the first on the hill to call for the impeachment of Attorney General John Swallow after corruption allegations began to surface. He has also called out President Donald Trump on multiple occasions, citing his dislike for Trump’s divisiveness and speaking out when the president has spread misinformation. Utah deserves a governor willing to step out of line with party politics to do the right thing. Cox would be that governor.


A Candidate for Utah

Cox and Huntsman, two strong candidates with a history of leadership, currently lead the race for governor. Huntsman has a long, convoluted political history. He was governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009, before leaving that role to serve in the Obama administration. In 2012 Huntsman pursued the presidency, later dropping out to endorse Mitt Romney. In 2017, Trump nominated Huntsman for the position of U.S. Ambassador to Russia, which Huntsman served as until October 2019. He, too, bucked his party as governor, supporting “civil unions for gay couples as governor in 2009 and same-sex marriage in 2013.”

But as honorable as Hunstman’s past service was, Cox is providing strong leadership for Utah right now. He is not afraid to grow (after the Pulse nightclub shooting, he spoke about where he could have been a better ally) but holds to his strengths, working hard as lieutenant governor to address wildfires and help Utah’s homeless populations. Cox is currently hard at work fighting the ongoing pandemic, increasing Utah’s testing capacity and dispelling misinformation about the virus. He is working long hours, taking time that could be spent with his family or on his campaign to keep Utah safe.

Local politics can be difficult to cover because they often feel so personal. I have met gubernatorial candidate Aimee Winder-Newton, seen Cox speak multiple times, and know many gubernatorial candidates more personally than high-profile candidates at the national level. I believe that every candidate on the gubernatorial ballot will put their best foot forward for Utah, but I know Cox is among those with the most heart. I believe in Spencer Cox because he has demonstrated himself to be a man who loves Utah, is devoted to his family and stands up for the right thing. Cox chooses Utah – rural Utah, queer Utah, conservative Utah and moderate Utah – in every decision he makes. I want to choose Utah, too, which is why I will be casting my ballot for Spencer Cox in November.


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