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Utah's gubernatorial candidates unite to plead for civility and a peaceful transition of power

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SALT LAKE CITY — Over the last few weeks, Utahns have been bombarded by political advertisements, many of which have been centered around reasons not to vote for a candidate. The new ads from Utah's gubernatorial race are a little different.

On Tuesday, Democrat Chris Peterson and Republican Spencer Cox released a series of joint ads to plead for civility and a peaceful transition of power.

"We can debate issues without degrading each other's character," Peterson says in the ad.

"We can disagree without hating each other," Cox adds.

In a second ad, the two commit to fully supporting the results of the presidential election.

Peterson says "working together and the peaceful transfer of power are integral to what it means to be American." Cox adds that "although we sit on different sides of the aisle, we are both committed to American civility and a peaceful transition of power."

During a town hall meeting on NBC last week, President Donald Trump said he would accept a peaceful transfer of power but continued to sow doubt on the election results.

"I want it to be an honest election and so does everybody else," Trump said. "When I see thousands of ballots dumped in a garbage can, and they happen to have my name on it, I'm not happy about it."

Utah officials have said there has been no evidence of mail-in voter fraud in the state, and nationally it's a very rare occurrence.

"The time-honored values of a peaceful transition of power and working with those with whom we differ are an integral part of what it means to be an American," Peterson said in a statement. "It is time to reforge a national commitment to decency and our democratic republic."

But outside of that issue, Cox sees the joint ads as a way to show voters they should expect more from political leaders.

"While our national political dialogue continues to decline, Chris and I agree that it's time we expect more of our leaders and more of each other," Cox said. "Utah has an opportunity to lead the charge against rank tribalism and commit to treating each other with dignity and respect."

The campaigns will make the ads available for local TV stations.

Cox holds a big lead in the governor's race, according to the latest polling data. In a Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll released Monday, 50% of likely voters said they would vote for Cox if the election were held today; 26% said they would vote for Peterson, with 16% of voters unsure.

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