Utah rivals in governor’s race gain international attention from advertisements calling for decency

Composite image. Inset image of Chris Peterson (left) courtesy of Chris Peterson. Inset photo of Spencer Cox by Mori Kessler, St. George, Utah, Jan. 9, 2020, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Rival candidates vying to become Utah’s next governor joined together in new ads Tuesday urging people to accept the results of the November elections and maintain decency with one another despite political differences.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican who is the heavy favorite to win the race in deeply conservative Utah, joined his Democratic challenger Chris Peterson appearing side-by-side in ads that feature a lighthearted approach but a serious message as they aim to offer a counterweight to the divisive political climate of 2020.

In a tweet promoting the ads, Cox said, “We can disagree without hating each other.” This is an apparent nod to Utah’s political climate where many try to strike a more cordial, compassionate tone rooted in the beliefs of the state’s predominant religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Although we sit on different sides of the aisle, we are both committed to American civility and a peaceful transition of power,” Cox says in one ad.

“We hope Utah will be an example to the nation,” responds Peterson, a University of Utah law professor.

“Because that is what our country is built on,” Cox says back.

Cox and Peterson are in a unique position to team up for the message because they are not locked in a heated race. Cox already cleared his stiffest hurdle when he defeated a crowded GOP primary field that included U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr., who had previously served as governor and is a well-known political name.

Republicans account for more than half of all registered voters in Utah and outnumber Democrats by more than a three-to-one margin. Trump is expected to win Utah again despite voters in the state being uncomfortable with his brash style and his comments about women and immigrants.

Cox, who casts himself as a “farm kid” and everyday Utah resident, criticized Trump during the 2016 for not representing “goodness nor kindness.” But he has since become a supporter of the president.

The two candidates also later appeared side-by-side in an interview on the BBC, where they touted each other’s strengths, as well as the state of Utah in general.

Written by BRADY McCOMBS, The Associated Press.

St. George News contributed to this report.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2020 election by clicking here.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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