Utah Gov. Spencer Cox doesn’t feeling obliged come agree with everything fellow republicans say or do and also doesn’t feel compelled come reflexively attack Democrats.

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SALT LAKE CITY—Spencer Cox quit watching cable TV years ago when he worn down of Fox News polluting his residence with bile and outrage. That teared up stating a law banning transgender athletes from girl sports, sidetracking the measure while saying lawmakers invest time through the kids they were targeting.

He didn’t vote for Donald trump card in November or in 2016 and also said initiatives to weaken those presidential elections to be a hazard to democracy.

In short, Utah’s branch is different from countless of his other Republicans. And, for that matter, many politicians.

He no ooze ambition from every pore, no recite talk points like holy gospel, doesn’t feeling obliged to agree with everything that anyone in his party says or does and doesn’t feel compelled come reflexively attack the other side.


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That makes him one outlier, that acknowledged, in today’s pungent political culture, and also if it means his job is reduced short, that’s fine.


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The loudest voices, a minority of voters, are drowning anyone else out.


“I love gift the governor of this state,” Cox said, and he will love “not gift the governor of this state.”

“I think I deserve to hold those two concepts equally and also passionately,” he said in one interview in his tiny ceremonial office, simply off the Capitol’s majestic rotunda.


Beyond Utah, Cox concedes there might no much longer be a ar for him in a Republican Party so wedded to cultural warfare and also so deep in Trump’s thrall. That’s fine, too. (Although v 65% of voters giving of his project performance in a may survey because that the Deseret News and also University of Utah, Cox is supposedly doing other right.)

“There no seem come be much of an appetite for it appropriate now,” he claimed of his heretical notions, like rejecting Trump’s lie about losing the White House due to voter fraud and also Cox’s refusal to run an unfavorable ads against his opponents. “But pendulums swing, and I certainly hope they swing that direction again soon.”

The governor, 45, began his political career in 2004 with his election to the City council in Fairview, a rural neighborhood of about 1,500 in central Utah. The next year, Cox became mayor, and also three year later, that was chosen to the Sanpete ar Commission, where his father when served. In 2012, Cox was elected to the state house of Representatives.

He started out, that said, as a usual partisan firebrand, act what he assumed he need to — scalding democracy in floor speeches and also on social media — till a other lawmaker suggested Cox would be happier and get much more done trying come work across the aisle. That approach had the added benefit of gift truer to Cox’s nature.

In 2013, Gov. Gary Herbert determined him to replace the state’s lieutenant governor, Greg Bell, that was stepping down to make more money outside government. Cox nearly declined the offer.

He and also his wife, Abby, and their four youngsters had a good life top top the household farm whereby Cox prospered up through his seven siblings. He’d do an previously decision to descend the job ladder by quitting his project with a Salt Lake City regulation firm, taking a sizable salary cut and also returning to the farm and also the company his family founded, a telecommunications firm serving rural Utah.

Uprooting his wife and also kids to become lieutenant governor was a transaction breaker; Cox take it the job just after the governor agreed he could stay in Fairview and each job commute 200 miles roundtrip to the Capitol in Salt Lake City.

The moment clarified Cox’s priorities and also delivered that a specific freedom.

“When you specify yourself together a politician by her office, once that’s all you know and also when you have to hang ~ above that, whether it’s for status, even if it is it’s because that the job, because that influence, for pay, every little thing ... Everything you carry out is just to acquire to the following election,” Cox said. “So the minute ns decided, my wife and I decided, that we had better lives external of politics, that there were things more important to united state than politics, the project actually obtained easier.”

When he determined to run for governor in 2020, Cox treated the race as an experiment of sorts, seeing if he could cut versus prevailing practice and also win by waging a optimistic campaign.

A pollster functioning for him, Quin Monson, tested number of lines the attack against other Republicans, including former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who was seeking to reclaim his old job. They showed highly effective with voters, and also Monson urged Cox to use the assaults in his TV ads. That refused, a decision that almost cost the the election; Cox edged Huntsman in the GOP primary 36% come 35%.

It “was component of a strategy” to contrast with others that slashed and also burned, said Monson, who teaches political science at Brigham Young University. “But the was not an act. He to be trying to it is in his finest self.”

The strategy brought over come the general election.

There was tiny chance the Cox shedding in overwhelmingly Republican Utah. (He finished up crushing his democratic opponent, kris Peterson, by a margin of an ext than 2 come 1, and Cox’s family members now stays in the governor’s mansion.)

Still, that was amazing to watch the 2 contestants side-by-side in tv spots — masked and also socially distanced — looking prefer overgrown candidates because that student government as they made jokey pitches for themselves and earnest pleas because that public civility.

“We can debate problems without degrading each others’ character,” claimed Peterson, in a dark suit and blue necktie.

“We can disagree there is no hating every other,” claimed Cox, in a dark suit and red necktie.

The reality that the ads go viral, garnering attention roughly the world, shows exactly how rare mutual respect and also political decency have actually become.


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Cox never ever abandoned his conservative beliefs. He strongly opposes legit abortion and also has signed pro-gun legislation.He joined other Republican governors last month in cutting off boosted federal COVID relief benefits, believing they kept some indigenous seeking work and made the harder for businesses to to fill empty positions.

The distinction is in tone and attitude. “We must be passionate about our principles,” Cox said. “But us shouldn’t shot to win by tearing rather down.

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“We have this crazy idea that being a Republican or being a Democrat is some innate trait that you’re born with,” that elaborated, or the the parties room churches that must excommunicate those who fail come strictly abide by their orthodoxies.

“By pointing out things ns disagree with, i think that provides the Republican Party much more attractive come people, not less attractive. Ns don’t think people say, ‘Oh, well, Gov. Cox disagrees through some various other Republicans, so ns going to come to be a Democrat.’”

Critical self-examination, however, is not lot in vogue these days amongst Republican leaders, any much more than broadening the party beyond its basic of hardcore trump card supporters. Cox admits he to be wrong about Trump and also his appeal in 2016 and failed to recognize his ability to commandeer the Republican Party and refashion the in his pugnacious and also polarizing image.

He concedes he may be dorn again in supplying the GOP his prescription going forward: much less combat, much more listening and also attempts to occupational constructively.