Heir apparent? Herbert donates $50,000 to Cox’s campaign



Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox


Gov. Gary Herbert put his financial weight behind his political protégé on Wednesday, cutting a $50,000 check for Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s 2020 gubernatorial campaign.

Cox is the only candidate in the 2020 race so far and has been touring the state in an RV since he jumped into the race at the beginning of the summer. So far, Cox has raised a little more than $378,000. That total includes $100,000 from Cox’s Lt. Governor campaign account and Herbert’s $50,000 donation. Aside from that, Cox has raised approximately $100,000 in the three months since jumping into the race.

Many political observers in Utah were wondering who Herbert would support in the 2020 race with the expected entry of former Gov. Jon Huntsman into the race once he returns to Utah after leaving his post as Ambassador to Russia for the Trump administration. Herbert was Huntsman’s Lt. Governor from 2004 to 2009 and assumed the governor’s post when Huntsman left to become the Ambassador to China under President Barack Obama. Herbert’s donation seemingly puts him squarely in Cox’s corner ahead of next year’s GOP primary.

Early polling shows Cox is in a statistical tie with Huntsman in the 2020 race.

The donation to Cox comes from Gov. Herbert’s political action committee. Herbert’s PAC reported more than $500,000 on hand at the end of last year and has more than $100,000 in donations this year, so there’s plenty more that could go to Cox’s campaign if Herbert chooses to send those funds his way. Cox is scheduled to hold a campaign fundraiser next week according to the press release.

The Cox campaign also announced Ron Jibson would serve as the finance chair for the campaign. Jibson recently retired as the CEO of Questar Corporation.

Cox’s fundraising trails far behind Provo businessman Jeff Burningham, who is expected to launch his campaign officially later this month. Burningham reports raising more than $585,000 for his campaign in waiting, but most of that money came in before August.

Former Speaker Greg Hughes has raised more than $180,000 for his political action committee ahead of the anticipated launch of his campaign for governor sometime this autumn.

Other candidates that could jump into the race include Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton, retiring Congressman Rob Bishop, businessmen Spence Eccles and Greg Miller and real estate executive and former Utah GOP chairman Thomas Wright.