Polls show sizeable spread in Utah governor’s race

Robert Mabe inserts his ballot into a drop box, Monday, Nov. 2, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Democrat Chris Peterson and Republican and current Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox are the two frontrunners in the race for the governor’s office now held by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert. 

After two terms as Utah’s governor and eligible for a third, Herbert announced in 2016 he would not be running again and in 2019 endorsed his Cox for the position.

A recent poll from the Deseret News and Hinckley Institute of Politics reported that half of voters surveyed would vote for Cox and 26% said they would vote for Petersen. Only 6% said they would vote for Libertarian Dr. Daniel Cottam, and 3% said they would vote for Independent American Party candidate Greg Duerden, with the rest of voters still undecided. 

Spencer Cox – Republican

Cox has been Herbert’s lieutenant governor since 2013. Cox has also served on the Fairview City Council, as mayor, county commissioner, and a state representative. He also was a law clerk to Federal District Judge Ted Stewart.

Cox told the Salt Lake Tribune that his top campaign priority is “unleashing Utah’s educational potential.” He is a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative and says on his website he is committed to rebuilding the economy if elected as governor. Cox also supports the right to bear arms in the 2nd Amendment and opposes abortion.

Cox’s running mate is State Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork. She currently serves as the chair of the Senate Education Committee. In addition to Herbert’s endorsement, Cox is supported by several state senators, state representatives and mayors. 

Chris Peterson – Democrat

If elected, Peterson would be Utah’s first Democratic governor since Scott M. Matheson left office in January 1985. Peterson is a business law professor at the University of Utah and previously worked as a senior official at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of Defense. 

In Utah’s voter information pamphlet, Peterson says his goals are to “improve public education, reduce air pollution, keep taxes low, promote affordable health care, and create good paying jobs.” Peterson also says on his website he is committed to advocating for farmers and workers in Utah’s rural communities. 

Peterson’s running mate is Karina Brown, President of the Friends of the Cache County Children’s Justice Center Board. Brown also serves on the Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

Peterson has been endorsed by former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Dr. Daniel Cottam – Libertarian

Dr. Daniel Cottam is a surgeon in Salt Lake City and his platform is centered around health care and improving environmental quality. Cottam believes physicians should be allowed to practice across state lines and that pharmaceuticals should be purchasable across state lines. He also supports the use of medical marijuana and ending the death penalty. 

Cottam’s running mate is Barry Evan Short, head administrator of all elections in Utah.

Greg Duerden – Independent American Party 

Duerden is a retired journalist and U.S. Air Force veteran. Duerden’s goal in running for governor is to improve public education, cut taxes and decrease government intervention. 

Duerden’s running mate is Wayne Hill, a founding member and the current State Vice-chair for the Independent American Party.

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