Utah Gov. Spencer Cox Says GOP Should Nominate a Governor for President

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
February 13, 2023Politics
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox Says GOP Should Nominate a Governor for President
Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox speaks during a briefing at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Jan. 8, 2021. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News via AP)

Republican Utah Governor Spencer Cox said he would prefer one of the party’s governors to be the presidential nominee in the 2024 election cycle.

In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cox said “I prefer governors. That’s the easy call for me.” Cox appeared for the interview alongside Democrat New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

Cox then spoke to a list of Republican governors that he believes would be viable options for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Cox said New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is “fantastic,” and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a “great record.” Cox also said former Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is “a good friend.”

“I like Republican governors,” Cox said.

As NBC host Chuck Todd threw out names like South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem and former Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Cox said they’re “all fantastic.”

“So what you’re saying is you’ll take a governor?” Todd asked.

“I would love a governor,” Cox replied. The Utah Republican added that he would take a Republican governor over a lawmaker in Congress “every day of the week.”

Some influential donors have suggested DeSantis as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024, even over former President Donald Trump. In July, tech billionaire Elon Musk said Trump would be “too old” to run in 2024, but that DeSantis would “easily win” in a race against President Joe Biden.

In November, Haley said she was also considering a 2024 presidential run, about a week after Trump announced his 2024 candidacy, despite making a commitment in 2021 not to run if Trump does.

Governors ‘Have To Get Stuff Done’

Cox repeatedly endorsed the idea of a governor running for president after the National Governors Association met in Washington for the weekend. Murphy is the chair of the association, while Cox is the vice chair.

“We passionately disagree and we’re best friends,” Cox said of his working relationship with Murphy.

During the interview, Cox provided some hints as to his reasoning for preferring governors over other political officeholders, suggesting governors are more focused on finding solutions that eschew the extremes of the respective political parties.

“I think there is a choice between the extremes and the exhausted majority, and that’s the conversation we’ve been having this week with Republican governors and Democrat governors coming together,” Cox said. “We’re the people who have to get stuff done.”

During the interview, Todd asked Cox to explain his decision to sign a bill into law that prohibits gender transition surgeries and puberty blockers for minors. The NBC host raised concerns that such legislation makes transgender individuals “feel like targets.” Cox said he believes there are some on the political right who aren’t actually concerned about the well-being of children when they oppose such procedures, just as there are some on the political left “who are promoting these things” without showing due concern for the well-being of children.

Murphy said he wished the American people could have “had a camera” inside the recent governors’ association meetings. The New Jersey Democrat said there was “civility, respect” and “a thirst for common ground.”

“We’re not going to agree on a whole long list of things,” Murphy said of Democratic and Republican governors. “But let’s find where we can agree. You know, we’re the ones who wake up with the responsibility for our residents. We balance the budget. We run our states.”

Cox Not Endorsing Himself

Though he repeatedly promoted governors as the best option for the 2024 Republican presidential candidate, Cox indicated he wasn’t talking about himself.

During the interview, as Todd asked Cox to name three Republican candidates he hopes will run, Murphy appeared to jokingly suggest Cox would submit his own name as the first answer.

“I know [Murphy] wants you to run,” Todd said.

“That’s definitely not going to happen,” Cox replied.

Cox, who won office in the 2020 election, said he would run again in 2024.

“I am running for re-election,” Cox said. “In the state of Utah, yes.”

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