The beautiful Utah state capitol, lit up in the evening during this year's legislative session.

With the 2020 Utah Republican Party Convention less than four weeks away, the race for Utah’s next Governor is heating up with several new running mates recently announced. The race saw its first Lieutenant Governor announcement way back in January when gubernatorial candidate Thomas Wright called on longtime Utah Congressman Rob Bishop. Following Wright’s announcement, 2020 front runner and former Governor, Jon Huntsman announced Provo City Mayor Michelle Kaufusi as the running mate for his campaign. 

Spencer Cox announces running mate

Last week, gubernatorial candidate Spencer Cox announced Utah State Senator, Deidre Henderson as his Lieutenant Governor running mate. 

Henderson has served in the Utah State Senate since 2013 and is the Chair of the Senate Education Committee. Before winning elected office, Henderson held the role of Campaign Manager for then-Congressman Jason Chaffetz. 

With Cox currently serving as the Chair of the Utah Coronavirus Task Force, Henderson immediately assumed day-to-day campaign operations. “I am humbled by the opportunity and grateful that Spencer has trust in me to follow in his footsteps as lieutenant governor. I look forward to representing our campaign and plan to work hard to earn the support of Utahns and sharing with them the conservative principles Spencer and I strongly believe in,” said Henderson after the announcement. 

Deidre lives in Spanish Fork with her husband Gabe and is the mother of five children. 

Aimee Winder Newton taps John Dougall 

Just a few days after Spencer Cox announced Utah State Senator Deidre Henderson as his running mate, gubernatorial candidate Aimee Winder Newton announced Utah State Auditor John Dougall to her ticket. 

Dougall has served as Utah State Auditor since 2013. Before being elected as State Auditor, Dougall served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives for District 27, which represents Alpine, Highland, and Cedar Hills. 

After the announcement, Dougall said “I look forward to bringing more accountability to the state budget and providing more transparency in government under Aimee’s leadership. Her 25 years of local government experience will be invaluable as we tackle the important challenges of growth, economic development, and education. She is a principled leader who has the vision and leadership to propel Utah forward.”

John lives in Highland with his wife Sandy and is the father of three children. 

Burningham and Hughes still undecided on picks for Lieutenant Governor 

Gubernatorial candidates, Provo entrepreneur Jeff Burningham and former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes have not announced their running mates yet. When asked if their picks would be announced soon, Burningham said, “I think so, I even met with a few potential candidates today.” Hughes had a similar response saying “I will have one announced by the Convention. I want to choose a strong conservative that sees the role of government like I see it.” 

Herbert eases signature-gathering requirements ahead of April deadline

The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have altered people’s lives in countless ways the past few weeks, including the normal Utah election process. Late last week, Governor Herbert took executive action to alter the way candidates can earn a spot on the June primary ballot, by allowing signatures to be collected electronically through email or fax. 

Candidates for elected office can ensure a spot in the primary election by advancing in their political party’s nominating convention or by gathering enough signatures from eligible voters. Before Herbert’s executive order, each signature needed to be personally witnessed by the person requesting the signature. Witnessing signatures and going door to door in the traditional way wouldn’t be complying with current social distancing advisements. 

“By easing the requirements of the signature-gathering process, but requiring that signatures be verified by the State after submission, this order strikes the appropriate balance in preserving a signature-gathering path to the ballot, even as Utahns follow orders and recommendations regarding social distancing,” said Herbert in a written statement after signing the executive order. 

The executive order came after a tweet by former Governor and 2020 candidate, Jon Hunstman, “When everything has been upended with #COVID–19, we too need to change how we proceed to make sure it’s a fair & honest primary. In a national emergency, it’s imperative that the governor’s office preserves our democracy.” tweeted Huntsman. 

Two candidates in the gubernatorial race, Spencer Cox and Thomas Wright had already qualified for the ballot by submitting the 28,000 needed signatures before Herbert’s executive order. Candidates have until April 10th to submit the required number of signatures. 

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