Burningham makes stop in Southern Utah as he gears up for gubernatorial race

ST. GEORGE — While Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox is so far the only declared candidate for Utah’s 2020 gubernatorial race, more candidates are gearing up to run.

Despite the limited pool of candidates, a number of names have popped up as potential competitors for the Republican nomination, including businessman Jeff Burningham, who made a stop in Southern Utah Wednesday.

Although Burningham has not officially declared his plans to run for Utah governor, he has assembled a campaign committee and launched a website titled “Jeff Burningham for Governor” where he accepts donations.

Burningham said the gubernatorial race is not a “fight to get elected” but rather a “fight for the people of Utah.” The Provo-based entrepreneur said the Utah Legislature should try “something new and different” and asserted that many politicians in Utah’s past have said they want to include Southern Utah in the discussion, but only a handful have carried through.

“We need someone who will fight for rural Utah,” he said.

Burningham is new to politics, and the 2020 gubernatorial election would be his first time running for political office. Burningham has, however, been a neighborhood precinct chair and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Republican candidates.

Burningham is currently participating in a listening tour across Utah to develop a better understanding of the hard-hitting issues of each county. He says his policies will utilize the thoughts, opinions and concerns from the residents of Utah. The entrepreneur met with Washington County residents Wednesday morning at the St. George Library.

Participants in the meeting introduced a number of topics, including concerns regarding federal land across the county, the Lake Powell Pipeline, the role of government and the current U.S. president.

Businessman Jeff Burningham meets with Washington County residents at the St. George Library to explore a run for the governor of Utah in St. George, Utah, July 10, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

According to Burningham, he is a “constitutional conservative republican” whose fundamental principle is that people and personal freedom – not the government – are what make Utah stand apart from the rest of the nation. He believes “government is terrible at almost everything it does.”

“When people are free, they make the best lives for themselves, and they can change the world,” he said. “I’m concerned that we’re not as free in Utah as we maybe think we are.”

Burningham said he is running because “this is a critical time in Utah” and there are important issues that the current representatives have pushed off that need to be addressed. He wants to “slim down government, not enlarge government.”

According to the businessman, his limited experience in politics makes him more unknown and forces him to fight against larger “bully pulpits” from other politicians.

“I don’t have a name ID in this race, yet. I’m an up-and-comer.”

Utah politicians have made a habit of making decisions based on re-election instead of what’s right, he said, and the best option for Utah is to find a candidate who has accomplishments outside of politics and sees political office as a means to serve the public.

Campaign manager Adrielle Herring said the committee spends the most time discussing how to solve the “communication problem” between northern and Southern Utah. According to Herring, issues like the Lake Powell Pipeline and federal lands are rural Utah issues that affect urban Utahns.

“My opinion is that we’re all obviously one Utah, whether we live in and are from rural Utah or urban Utah,” Burningham said.

The 2020 Utah gubernatorial election will be held in the Nov. 5 general election, which also includes elections for U.S. president, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, as well as various state and local positions.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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