|18th Governor of Utah|
|Assumed office |
January 4, 2021
|Preceded by||Gary Herbert|
|8th Lieutenant Governor of Utah|
October 16, 2013 – January 4, 2021
|Preceded by||Greg Bell|
|Succeeded by||Deidre Henderson|
|Member of the Utah House of Representatives|
from the 58th district
January 1, 2013 – October 16, 2013
|Preceded by||Stephen Sandstrom|
|Succeeded by||Jon Cox|
|Born||July 11, 1975|
Mount Pleasant, Utah, U.S.
Utah State University (BA)
Washington and Lee University (JD)
Spencer James Cox (born July 11, 1975) is an American attorney and politician serving as the 18th governor of Utah since 2021. A member of the Republican Party, Cox 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 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 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 governor. 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 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 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. After 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 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 campaign finance laws. 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. The Utah Senate's Government Operations Confirmation Committee unanimously approved his nomination on October 15. The next day, the full Utah Senate confirmed him unanimously and he was sworn in. As lieutenant governor, Cox 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 report's release. In 2016, Cox was elected lieutenant governor as Herbert's running mate.
Governor of Utah
On May 14, 2019, after Herbert announced that he would not seek reelection, Cox announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor of Utah in 2020. Cox won the Republican primary with 36.4% of the vote; 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 (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 in the 2016 Republican 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 won 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 to play 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%|
- "Sanpete County Commissioners | Sanpete County". Archived from the original on April 1, 2010. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
- Gehrke, Robert (October 15, 2013). "How Cox rose from farm boy to lieutenant-governor-in-waiting". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
- Wells, David (October 8, 2013). "Utah's new Lt. Governor announced". FOX13Now.com. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
- Robinson, Doug (June 29, 2014). "Spencer Cox: The lieutenant governor who almost said no". Deseret News. Archived from the original on August 7, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
- Daily Herald (December 31, 2008). "2008 In Review | Local News". heraldextra.com. Archived from the original on June 2, 2019. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
- "Delegates trade one Cox for another for Utah House seat". The Salt Lake Tribune. November 8, 2013. Archived from the original on November 14, 2018. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
- Gehrke, Robert (October 8, 2013). "Herbert picks state Rep. Spencer Cox as new lieutenant governor". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
- Roche, Lisa Riley (October 8, 2013). "Gov. Herbert names Rep. Spencer Cox new lieutenant governor". Deseret News. Archived from the original on December 5, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
- Roche, Lisa Riley (October 15, 2013). "Lt. gov. pick Spencer Cox wins unanimous approval from confirmation committee". Deseret News. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
- Roche, Lisa Riley (October 16, 2013). "'Shocked' Spencer Cox sworn in as new lieutenant governor". Deseret News. Archived from the original on April 5, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
- Gehrke, Robert (November 22, 2013). "Swallow resigns, proclaiming innocence: 'Time for the madness to stop'". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on February 14, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
- "Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox announces he is running for Utah governor, vows a 'different,' positive campaign". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- "Here are the reasons Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox says he's running for governor in 2020". Deseret News. May 14, 2019. Archived from the original on July 16, 2019. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
- Axelrod, Tal (July 6, 2020). "Spencer Cox defeats Jon Huntsman in Utah GOP governor primary". TheHill.
- Roche, Lisa Riley (November 3, 2020). "Spencer Cox says he'll be governor for all of Utah as Peterson concedes race". Deseret News.
- McKellar, Katie (January 4, 2021). "Spencer Cox, Utah's 18th governor, says state's greatest days lie ahead". Deseret News. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
- Steinbrecher, Lauren; Wells, David (October 19, 2015). "Presidential candidate Marco Rubio visiting Utah Monday". FOX13 Salt Lake City. Archived from the original on September 19, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- Woodruff, Daniel (March 19, 2016). "Utah's Lt. Gov. endorses Ted Cruz, condemns Trump's comments on Romney". KUTV. Archived from the original on June 28, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- "Trump's Appeal With Mormons To Be Tested In Utah". CBS Baltimore. Associated Press. Archived from the original on August 10, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- Winslow, Ben; Wells, David (March 16, 2016). "GOP presidential debate in SLC canceled". FOX13 Salt Lake City. Archived from the original on June 13, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- Victor, Daniel (June 16, 2016). "At Vigil for Orlando Victims, Utah Republican Apologizes to L.G.B.T. Community". New York Times. Archived from the original on June 18, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- McEvers, Kelly (June 15, 2016). "'My Heart Has Changed': Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox Apologizes To LGBT Community". NPR. Archived from the original on June 17, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
- "Lt. Gov. Cox speaks at vigil for Orlando: 'My heart has changed' (transcript)". June 14, 2016. Archived from the original on June 19, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- Clark, Antone (October 15, 2013). "Cox expected to take office as lieutenant governor". Standard-Examiner. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
- Romboy, Dennis (November 8, 2013). "GOP names Utah House replacement for Spencer Cox — his fourth cousin". Deseret News. Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
- "Utah Election Official Results" (PDF). Utah Secretary of State. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
- "2020 Regular Primary Canvass" (PDF). State of Utah.gov. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
- "2020 General Election Canvass" (PDF). Lieutenant Governor of Utah. November 23, 2020. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
|Utah House of Representatives|
| Member of the Utah House of Representatives
from the 58th district
| Lieutenant Governor of Utah
| Governor of Utah
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for Governor of Utah
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Vice President
| Order of precedence of the United States
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
as Governor of Wyoming
| Order of precedence of the United States
as Governor of Oklahoma