Gov. Cox supports caucus system after being booed at last month's convention

Gov. Spencer J. Cox speaks to reporters during the Governor's Monthly News Conference at the PBS Utah Studios in Salt Lake City on Thursday.

Gov. Spencer J. Cox speaks to reporters during the Governor's Monthly News Conference at the PBS Utah Studios in Salt Lake City on Thursday. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox was booed when taking the stage at last month's Republican state nominating convention, and while he sees some issues with behavior by a handful of delegates, he doesn't want to see the convention go away anytime soon.

Cox was asked about the future of the caucus convention system during his monthly news conference Thursday, after Cox's speech at convention in which he called out some delegates, saying, "Maybe you just hate that I don't hate enough."

Those comments — which Cox said came from off the cuff — drew criticism from some delegates and elected officials, but the governor said he was speaking to a "very small group of people," not delegates at large.

"I don't even mind the booing, but this canceling is something new," he said Thursday of individuals "trying to shout down speakers" they disagreed with at the nominating convention.

That culture is something he traditionally associates with some on the left, but said, "We've adopted it in some wings of my party as well."

He said he didn't regret his remarks to delegates, and made clear he was not addressing them to all of those who voted against him, but speaking to people who were "trying to prevent me from actually just giving my remarks."

"I do think that's very unhelpful, and I think it's important to call out that kind of behavior," he said. "I think it's bad for our party; I think it's bad for our country; I think it's bad for our state."

Cox said he still sees the convention as an important alternate path to the primary ballot, by allowing politicians a way to qualify without collecting thousands of signatures — an expensive and time consuming task. But he also said the amount of money spent by candidates at convention is growing, estimating some spent hundreds of thousands of dollars courting delegates.

"I'm not sure that's what the convention was meant for," he said. "I think, again, I support the idea of the caucus convention and if there was a way to get it back to where there was more participation and the delegates were more representative instead of everybody just trying to stack delegates, that would help."

Cox is in the middle of a reelection campaign against a member of his own party, state Rep. Phil Lyman, from Blanding.

You can watch the news conference below:

This story will be updated.

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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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