Pub 1 2019-2020 | Issue 4


Utah’s 2020 Gubernatorial Race

Election Day in the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 3, 2020, when voters in Utah will vote for president, select a new governor and make other decisions.

The last Democratic governor in Utah was Scott M. Matheson. Utah’s long string of Republican governors, dating back to January 1985, has lasted 35 years now. It is the second-longest active streak of leadership by one party in the U.S. (South Dakota has first place: Governor Harvey L. Wollman, a Democrat, left office there in 1979.)

Spencer Cox is Governor Herbert’s lieutenant governor and, because he is a Republican, he is the expected choice for Utah’s next governor. He and his wife both grew up in Fairview, Utah. Spencer is a lawyer who worked at Fabian and Clendenin in Salt Lake City. He and his wife moved back to Fairview to raise their children. Spencer served on the city council there and was elected its mayor before moving into the state political scene. During the entire time he has served as lieutenant governor, he has commuted regularly between Fairview and Salt Lake City.

In June, UPA joined with other heavy industries (the Utah Manufacturers Association, Utah Mining Association and Association of General Contractors) to host a “Heavy Industry Forum” event to focus in on the Gubernatorial candidates’ positions on issues directly impacting our industries and often not part of the mainstream debates. We have highlighted some of the Lt. Governor’s (and prevailing GOP candidate) statements.

Tier 3 Gas

I am interested in cleaning up Utah’s air. That means cleaning up tailpipe emissions, which is one of the major contributing factors to poor air in Utah. Our refineries are now producing Tier 3 gas, which will make a big difference. So many workers are working from home right now, it has improved the air in Utah and can be used as a tool to continue improving air quality going forward.

Technical Training

Education has been separated from work for far too long in Utah. We’ve also made a culture where every child needs a bachelor’s degree. That is bad for the child and bad for Utah because it means young people are not prepared to work after they graduate from high school. We need to upgrade technical training and increase funding for post-secondary education. We need to pay attention to what employers need.

Regulatory Certainty

Utah has had economic success over the last 20 years because it has been competitive. A lot of energy development is done on federal lands. When capital is tight, if businesses have to choose, they choose places with regulatory certainty. It shouldn’t take seven years to get a permit. Our regulatory scheme should be competitive with other places. That means it can’t be overly burdensome or time-consuming. We need to participate with industry and make sure supply chains are kept open. We need to protect the constitutional rights of companies to conduct business across state lines. That means pushing back with litigation when necessary.

Business Incentives

I was pushing back on business incentives early because it doesn’t make sense when unemployment is low or when the company is going to move to Utah anyway. Most incentives come to the Wasatch front, but some counties in other parts of the state have struggled with recession since the Great Recession. Those are the places that need support, and I want to restructure opportunities accordingly.

Rural Utah Needs More Involvement in Decisions

I am often the only representative from rural Utah who is in the room when decisions are being made. I have often wondered what happens when I am not in the room. As a result, I plan to pull in people from rural Utah and give them a voice.

Remote Work Opportunities Benefit Everyone

People who move here are worried about buying a house, educating their children and breathing the air. Bringing in people from out of state and incentivizing them to live in rural Utah makes it easier for everyone to have a higher quality of life.

The Best State for Business

Utah has been the best state for business in six out of the last nine years. I plan to continue that legacy, but as someone from rural Utah, I bring my blue-collar background with me, and that informs my perspective. It isn’t something I adopted to get votes. It is part of my identity. I want to put protections into place for industries that will bless the generations to come. I want Utah to be the state for heavy industry.

The Utah Petroleum Association

This story appears in Pub 1 2019-20 Issue 4 of the UPDATE Magazine.