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Utah Democratic Rep. Brian King to challenge Gov. Spencer Cox in 2024

The Utah State Capitol is shown during the first day of the Utah Legislature 2022 general session on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer
The Utah State Capitol is shown during the first day of the Utah Legislature 2022 general session on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, in Salt Lake City.

Democratic state Rep. Brian King is running for Utah governor in 2024. He's the second candidate to challenge Republican Gov. Spencer Cox.

King has represented Summit County for over 10 years. He also served as the state House minority leader from 2015 to 2023. If King does become governor, he would be Utah’s first democratic governor since 1985.

Although many are skeptical a Democrat could win the state’s gubernatorial race, King said Utahns are tired of one-party control.

“The winds are shifting," King said. "I think things are changing at a national and state level in terms of people's tolerance for the kind of, quite frankly, detached-from-reality viewpoints that too many of our candidates and elected officials are engaging in.”

King said the legislature needs to stop making judgments on a candidate’s merit solely based on their party affiliation. He also said one-party control has allowed the governor to become passive.

“We've seen it with Gov. Cox that the extreme voices in the legislature and the supermajority party say, ‘Here's what we want you to do, governor,’ and he may have concerns about those things," King said. "But he will not stand up, veto the bill.”

King said he would instead veto a bad piece of legislation and if the veto is overridden by the legislature, take it to the people of Utah.

Gov. Cox recently released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2024. It’s the biggest proposed spending plan in state history at over $29 billion.

King said he does see eye to eye with Gov. Cox on some things in the plan, including affordable housing, child care and public education. However, he doesn’t support legislative leadership considering more tax cuts.

“I don't want to be overtaxed any more than anybody else," King said. "But I also know that there's some really critically important programs that aren't being funded the way they need to be.”

The proposed budget also provides money to benefit rural school districts, which King said has always been one of his top priorities. It’s one of the reasons he’s worried about a tax cut since income taxes go toward public education.

“We're kind of talking about this out of both sides of our mouths when we say we want to fund education," King said. "But at the same time, the legislature is saying, ‘Well, we want to give everyone a tax cut out of those same plans that would otherwise go to public education.’”

King said he will serve out his term in Salt Lake and Summit counties and will not seek reelection as he’s running for governor.