#StandUnited: Utah gubernatorial opponents promote unity in political ads

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Utah gubernatorial candidates and opponents Spencer Cox and Chris Peterson released a series of political ads on Tuesday urging the state of Utah to show civility in politics.

Republican candidate and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox tweeted one of the ads, saying he and his Democratic opponent Peterson were trying something different with their advertising.

“We can debate issues without degrading each others’ character,” Peterson said in one of the ads. “We can disagree without hating each other,” Cox said in the same ad.

In another ad, Peterson said they will fully support the results of the presidential election. Cox followed him by saying they want Utah to be an example to the nation. “We commit to a peaceful transfer of power,” Cox said.

BYU political science professor Ethan Busby said he thinks this kind of ad is unusual. “Generally, candidates don’t try to build bridges with each other in campaigns,” Busby said.

Busby also said he wondered why it was released now. “Did the candidates come together about some events going on in Utah or national politics and feel this was necessary? Why not do one of these earlier?” he said.

Busby also wondered if these kinds of ads would be made in a state that was more competitive. “If the stakes of the elections and campaigns were higher (say if the candidates were polling neck and neck), would they still be willing to produce this kind of ad?” he said.

Busby doesn’t think the ad will hurt, but he said he doesn’t think Utah voters will forget other things that have happened, and on their own, the ads won’t do enough to build bridges between political parties.

“In some ways, people will likely respond to this by feeling more positive to the candidate they already liked ahead of time and not change their view of the candidate they don’t like,” Busby said.

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