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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Cox and Lyman Talk Policy During a Tame Debate

Rep. Phil Lyman’s online persona led some to think the debate would be more lively, but one of the only topics the two candidates disagreed on was the 2034 Winter Olympics. 
Laura Seitz
(Image Courtesy of Laura Seitz/Deseret News)


On Tuesday night, Gov. Spencer Cox and Rep. Phil Lyman (R-San Juan) discussed some of Utah’s biggest issues during the gubernatorial primary debate, including housing affordability, abortion laws and education. 

Lyman, who beat Cox at the GOP convention with 67.5% of the vote, is trailing behind Cox in the latest polls

Growth in Utah 

The candidates were asked about housing affordability and how, if elected, they would make it more affordable. 

Cox said it was the most important issue in Utah and pointed to work done in the Legislature to pass comprehensive housing reform. 

“We have to build 35,000 starter homes in the state,” he said. “We have to make sure that our kids can own real property again, that is the American dream.”

Lyman said there is no way kids coming out of college can afford to buy a house right now, and, because of certain policies, the average homeowner is getting wiped out. 

“This is the comforting myth we like to tell ourselves is the government is going to fix this problem,” he said. “The truth is free market principles are going to fix this problem.” 

Abortion Laws 

When asked about abortion laws in Utah post-Roe v. Wade, Cox said they should be where they are. Currently, Utah law allows abortion for up to 18 weeks and includes exceptions for rape, incest or maternal health concerns. 

“Finally, we have a Supreme Court that did the right thing in returning this to the state, and we have worked very closely with the legislature to implement … new laws that will protect life in our state,” he said. 

Lyman said the Legislature sent a strong message to the Supreme Court before Roe v. Wade was overturned when they passed a trigger law banning almost all abortions with only a few exceptions. The law is currently under court injunction.

“If we believe in the sanctity of life, we do more than just write strongly worded letters, we stand up … honest people have rights too, and no place is that more important than in the lives of the unborn people,” he said. 

Higher Education

In a video question from a political science student at Utah State University, the candidates were asked about mandating a more serious and nuanced study of government in high schools and universities. 

Cox said the next generation of Americans need to understand the founding documents of this country, such as the Declaration of Independence. 

“I’m desperately worried about what’s happening on college campuses,” he said as he ran out of time on the question. “We need better civic education.” 

Lyman did not touch on the topic of university education. However, he has a statement on higher education on his campaign website that says schools should “refuse to host drag shows, should ban the practice of requiring preferred pronouns on campus, and should require U.S history and government classes.” The statement also calls for schools to “root out insurgent foreign ideology such as Chinese influence, environmentalist and climate change dogma, and other unfounded and cultish creeds, including religious tenets, that require unnatural adherence.”

The University of Utah requires undergraduate students to fulfill an American Institutions credit for their general education requirements. 


One of the only topics the candidates disagreed on was the idea of Utah hosting the 2034 Winter Olympics. 

Cox said Utah’s financial responsibility for the games should be and will be zero dollars. 

“We are the first state, the first country in the history of the Olympics that won’t have to build a single venue, and all of this is going to be paid for by sponsorships,” he said.

Lyman said the Olympics have a “tremendous” cost on Salt Lake City. 

“I don’t believe if you took a poll in Utah that would overwhelmingly be in favor of it paying for and bringing the Olympics to Utah,” he said. 

Cox responded by pointing to a poll released on June 11 saying 79% of Utahns are behind Utah hosting the games in 2034. 

Primary election day is Tuesday, June 25.


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About the Contributor
Vanessa Hudson
Vanessa Hudson, Editor in Chief
Vanessa is from Grand Junction, Colorado. She's a junior majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism and minoring in modern dance and political science. She is passionate about what she reports on, and she usually winds up writing about local politics and issues. When Vanessa isn't writing, you can find her trying out some new choreography, listening to public radio or watching Marvel and Star Wars movies.

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