ST. GEORGE — Former House Speaker Greg Hughes announced Tuesday that Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson will be his running mate in the race for Utah’s governor.
Iverson, a former public lands advisor to Sen. Mike Lee, was announced as Hughes’ pick for lieutenant governor in a press release and posted on Hughes’ campaign site. Iverson shares his conservative Utah values and has a strong work ethic, Hughes said in the video.
“He has kept Washington County strong and prepared with the lowest tax rate in the state and a full year of rainy-day funds in reserve,” Hughes said in the press release. “Victor has served government at the city, county and federal level, is immediate past president of the Utah Association of Counties and is the person Utah can trust to be the next lieutenant governor.”
In an interview with St. George News, Hughes said he came to know Iverson during his time as the Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives. He noted the “incredibly strong reputation as a leader” Iverson gained during his time serving as the president of the Utah Association of Counties.
“I knew that with Commissioner Iverson, when I announced I running for governor, it was a priority for me to earn his support,” Hughes said.
That bid for support turned into asking Iverson to be his running mate after Hughes held a number of town hall meetings in Washington County while touring the state overall and came to know Iverson better. They shared many of the same values, Hughes said, which ultimately led to Tuesday’s announcement.
In addition to shared values, Iverson brings the perspective of rural Utah’s challenges and opportunities, Hughes said.
“I’m honored to have him,” Hughes said. “I think we’re the dream team beyond any other team on the ticket in this race.”
If elected, Hughes said he plans to expand economic opportunities to the rest of the state beyond the Wasatch Front. The hyper-focus placed on the counties along the Wasatch Front isn’t sustainable and needs to be spread out, he said.
“If you want a relief-valve,” Hughes says he tells people in urbanized northern Utah, “there are a lot of other counties ready to see some economic growth and investment.”
Despite not having that hyper-focus on it as far as state-sponsored economic develop and out of state industry recruitment goes, Hughes said, Washington County has thrived.
“Washington County is the largest small county in the state of Utah,” he said. “It’s growth and economic prosperity. I think it has been persuasively argued that the county has grown in spite of the odds that are against it.”
Iverson was elected to the Washington County Commission in 2015. Prior to that, Iverson served as Sen. Mike Lee’s public lands policy advisor and sat on the LaVerkin City Council before that.
The commissioner said he believes Hughes will bring strong leadership and prosperity to the state overall and not just the Wasatch Front.
“What we need to do is take that prosperity across the state,” Iverson said. “Washington County is doing fairly well, but some of our neighboring counties are really struggling and they continue to export their kids.”
One of the big challenges for rural counties, and Washington County in years past, has been having ample economic opportunities for those growing up in those counties to take advantage of if they wanted to stay. Since there has been no such advantage, they leave looking for better opportunities.
Iverson also said he believes bringing Washington County’s perspective to the state overall will greatly benefit it.
“I believe that our voice is so needed at the Capitol, it’s perspective,” Iverson said. “We have a different perspective living in St. George and Washington County that people living on the Wasatch Front don’t have.”
“Washington County and its leadership and public servants and this commissioner, it’s on the ticket,” Hughes said, adding the state can benefit from the county’s prominence, influence and leadership. “I think the whole state benefits from what’s happening in Washington County.”
Hughes’s campaign proceeds toward the state’s Republican convention April 25 where it will be left in the hands of delegates whether the former House Speaker received the party nomination, goes to primary or fails to continue. Unlike other campaigns that are going through the caucus-convention system, as well as the signature-gathering route, Hughes is leaving the fate of his campaign solely in the hands of the delegates.
“I absolutely believe that Greg Hughes is the best governor candidate,” Iverson said. “He comes with the leadership and this state desperately needs that leadership right now. Especially with that we’re dealing with, with the current episode of COVID-19. We’ve got some real challenges facing this state, and we need a good, strong leader such as Greg Hughes.” Iverson said.
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