Herbert Taps Freshman Lawmaker as New Lieutenant Governor

Rep. Spencer Cox (R) has been tapped to be Utah's new Lieutenant Governor
Rep. Spencer Cox (R) has been tapped to be Utah’s new Lieutenant Governor

Governor Herbert announced Tuesday his choice to replace outgoing Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell – Republican legislator, Spencer Cox. “I recognize the immense responsibility of this position. The mantle weighs very heavy,” Cox said at the announcement.

Cox, a rural lawmaker from the town of Fairview in Sanpete County, is a freshman on Utah’s Capitol Hill, having only represented the 58th district during the 2013 session. Cox ran unopposed in the general election on a platform of fiscal responsibility, states’ rights, education funding and reform, and opening up public lands for energy exploration. He also previously served as Mayor of Fairview.

Cox also made headlines as the first lawmaker to openly call for impeachment proceedings against scandal-laden Attorney General John Swallow in May of this year, after he became frustrated with the narrative coming out of the Attorney General’s press office.

Cox’s legislative history is a short one, having sponsored two relatively minor bills in the 2013 general session. One dealt with off-highway vehicle use and the other allowing counties to establish administrative rules. During his brief time in the legislature, he quickly became known as a moderate while debating legislation.

The choice of a moderate Republican from a rural county complements Herbert’s more far-Right leanings. Outgoing Lieutenant Governor Bell was also seen as a moderate, who hailed from the smaller town of Farmington in Davis County. Prior to Herbert taking over as Governor, he served as Lieutenant Governor to the more moderate Jon Huntsman.

Now that Herbert has nominated Cox, it is up to the State Senate to confirm Cox to the seat. Herbert has said that he hopes the confirmation will take place next week, which would require that the Senate waive the required 15-day notice.

Bell is resigning from office over financial worries, citing a financial transaction that had not performed well, and that his State salary of $104,405 was not sufficient.

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