Carson Jorgensen, former state GOP chairman, to run for governor

Former Utah Republican Party chairman Carson Jorgensen, who is running for governor, poses for a portrait at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday.

Former Utah Republican Party chairman Carson Jorgensen, who is running for governor, poses for a portrait at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Carson Jorgensen isn't your usual political junkie. Although he led the Utah Republican Party for several years and ran for Congress in 2020, he describes politics as a "kind of necessary evil."

Jorgensen on Thursday announced that he will run for governor, challenging incumbent Gov. Spencer Cox in a Republican primary. When asked about his decision to challenge an incumbent governor who is seeking reelection and has consistently favorable support from many Utahns, he said it's "the right thing to do."

"Timing really doesn't play a lot into it because politics is never something I really wanted to do anyways. I felt like it has always felt like it was the right thing to do. But if politics ended today, and I went home to the ranch and never had to do it again, it wouldn't hurt my feelings either," he told in an interview at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday.

"I refer to (politics) as evil, but it's just something that has to be done and people have to do it," he continued. "So, I felt like if you have something to complain about, you better be a part of the solution. And so that's why I'm here."

At the top of Jorgensen's list of complaints is spending. He's referring to the national debt, but is worried that Utah is heading in the same direction — noting that the state's budget has more than doubled since 2014, outpacing population growth.

Although Republicans control all levels of state government, Jorgensen said the party doesn't agree on a strategy to cut spending.

"We need to start looking at it as an overall whole and I think that's where the governor's office comes in," he said. "I see the governor's office having to step in and say, 'You know what, this is outside of the scope. We need to stay inside of this area.'"

Jorgensen joins a gubernatorial race that includes Cox, state Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, state Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, and unaffiliated Tom Tomeny.

Jorgensen describes himself as a sixth-generation rancher with deep family roots in the small Sanpete County town of Mount Pleasant, where he lives with his wife and five daughters.

In addition to serving as Utah Republican Party chairman until last year, Jorgensen ran against former Rep. Chris Stewart in a GOP primary in 2020.

Carson Jorgensen poses for a portrait at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
Carson Jorgensen poses for a portrait at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Pointing to his blue collar background, Jorgensen said he also plans to focus on education, specifically vocational schools and apprenticeships for jobs in construction, manufacturing and hospitality.

"We need workers. We need people who are in those fields and we don't have them because we've never given the kids an opportunity to know if they like it," he said. "We've cut pretty much all vocational training in high schools and it just is making it hard to find good trained workers. If you never give these kids an opportunity ... you're never going to have people enter into these fields."

Jorgensen said people who live in more rural parts of Utah often feel left behind, and he feels equipped to bridge the gap between the majority of Utahns who live along the Wasatch Front and the residents in the rest of the state. Given his age — slightly older than the median age of 31 in Utah — and the fact that he has five young children, Jorgensen said he relates to the struggles faced by many young parents and families in the state.

"The struggles are real," he said, "and that is where the majority of Utahns fall into that place. They are starting young families. They are trying to find a job, trying to afford a house. They're seeing where they fit in the state and trying to find their place."

In terms of control, he said it's hard for the federal government to manage issues in a state that is thousands of miles away, in the same way that it's sometimes hard for the state government to respond to issues that are hundreds of miles from Salt Lake City.

"It's not different, the issues in the Wasatch Front are much difference from issues outside, but we have to have somebody that understands the nuances of both and sees those," he said. "That's somewhere where I've had a lot of expertise, and have a lot of time spent looking at those things."


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Bridger Beal-Cvetko covers Utah politics, Salt Lake County communities and breaking news for He is a graduate of Utah Valley University.


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