|Intro||American lawyer and politician from Utah|
|A.K.A.||Spencer J. Cox|
|Is||Lawyer Politician Businessperson|
|From||United States of America|
|Type||Business Law Politics|
|Birth||11 July 1975, Mount Pleasant, Sanpete County, Utah, USA|
Spencer James Cox (born July 11, 1975) is an American attorney and politician serving as the 18th and current Governor of Utah since 2021. A member of the Republican Party, Cox previously served as the eighth Lieutenant Governor of Utah from 2013 to 2021.
Cox was raised and lives in Fairview, Utah. He was elected to the city council in 2004 and mayorship the next year. After overseeing rural economic development in Fairview, Cox was elected as a county commissioner for Sanpete County in 2008. He was elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 2012.
In October 2013, Governor Gary Herbert selected Cox to replace Greg Bell as Utah Lieutenant Governor; he was confirmed unanimously by the Utah State Senate. Cox was elected to the lieutenant governorship as Herbert's running mate in 2016. In 2020, after Herbert decided to retire, Cox sought the Republican nomination for the governorship. He defeated former Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., former Utah GOP chair Thomas Wright, and former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes in the primary election and went on to defeat Democratic nominee Chris Peterson in the general election.
Early life and education
Cox was raised in Sanpete County; he graduated from North Sanpete High School. He enrolled at Snow College and completed a mission to Mexico for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while he was a student. During that time, he also married his high school sweetheart, Abby, who also graduated from Snow College. After graduating with an associate's degree, he attended Utah State University (USU), where he obtained his bachelor's degree in political science and Abby obtained her degree in special education. At USU, Cox was named Student of the Year and graduated with a 4.0 grade point average. Accepted to Harvard Law School, Cox instead enrolled at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he received his Juris Doctor.
Early legal work
After law school, Cox clerked for Judge Ted Stewart of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. Following his clerkship, Cox joined Fabian and Clendenin, a Salt Lake City law firm. He returned to rural Utah and became a vice president of CentraCom.
Cox was elected as a city councilor of Fairview, Utah in 2004 and as mayor the next year. In 2008, he was elected as a Sanpete County commissioner. Cox was elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 2012 and became the first member to call for the impeachment of John Swallow, the attorney general of Utah, over violations of laws governing campaign finance. Cox and Lieutenant Governor Bell served as co-chairs of Governor Herbert's Rural Partnership Board.
Lieutenant Governor of Utah
2016 General Election
In October 2013, Herbert selected Cox to succeed Bell as lieutenant governor following Bell's resignation. His nomination was approved unanimously by the Utah Senate's Government Operations Confirmation Committee on October 15. The next day, he was confirmed unanimously by the full Utah Senate and sworn in. As lieutenant governor, Cox's office produced a report on Swallow's financial interests, demonstrating that Swallow had failed to properly disclose all of his income and business interests. Swallow resigned before the release of the report. In 2016, Cox was elected lieutenant governor as Herbert's running mate.
Governor of Utah
On May 14, 2019, after Governor Herbert announced that he would not seek re-election the following year, Cox announced his intent to seek the Republican nomination for Governor of Utah in 2020. Cox won the Republican primary election with 36.4% of the vote, while former Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. received 34.6%. Cox defeated Chris Peterson, the Democratic Party nominee, in the November general election. In a break with tradition, Cox's January 4, 2021 inauguration (complete with precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic) was held at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts in Ivins, Utah, a small town in Washington County. The stated purpose of this move was to express Cox's desire to be governor for the entire state as opposed to focusing on the Wasatch Front region.
In October 2015, Cox endorsed Marco Rubio for the Republican Party nomination in the 2016 presidential primary. After Rubio withdrew, Cox endorsed Ted Cruz in March 2016. Of Donald Trump, the front-runner, Cox said: "We care a lot about decorum. We care about our neighbors. We are a good, kind people. He does not represent neither goodness nor kindness." He said he would not support Trump if he wins the Republican nomination: "I think he's disingenuous. I think he's dangerous. I think he represents the worst of what our great country stands for... I won't vote for Hillary, but I won't vote for Trump, either."
On June 13, 2016, Cox spoke at a vigil in Salt Lake City honoring those who died in the Orlando nightclub shooting the day before. He surprised many when he apologized for mistreating schoolmates and his lack of support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. He aimed part of his speech at the "straight community":
How did you feel when you heard that 49 people had been gunned down by a self-proclaimed terrorist? That’s the easy question. Here is the hard one: Did that feeling change when you found out the shooting was at a gay bar at 2 a.m. in the morning? If that feeling changed, then we are doing something wrong.
Cox is the oldest of eight children and grew up on a farm in Fairview. He and his wife, Abby, have four children, and reside on their family farm in Fairview. Cox's father, Eddie, served on the Utah Transportation Commission and was also a Sanpete County commissioner.
Cox plays bass guitar in a garage band. His brother-in-law, Travis Osmond, the son of Merrill Osmond, taught him how to play the bass. State Representative Mike McKell is also a brother-in-law. Cox's fourth cousin, Jon Cox, succeeded him in the Utah House of Representatives.
|Republican||Gary Herbert/Spencer Cox (incumbent)||750,850||66.74%||-1.67%|
|Democratic||Mike Weinholtz/Kim Bowman||323,349||28.74%||+1.16%|
|Libertarian||Brian Kamerath/Barry Short||34,827||3.10%||+0.85%|
|Independent American||Superdell Schanze/Gregory Duerden||15,912||1.41%||N/A|
|Independent||L.S. Brown (write-in)||97||0.01%||N/A|
|Republican||Jon Huntsman Jr.||184,246||34.95%|
|Independent American||Gregory Duerden||25,810||1.77%||+0.36%|