Gov. Cox doesn’t think Trump can win in 2024, approves Utah GOP opting out of presidential primary

Aug 17, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: Aug 29, 2023, 4:08 pm

Image of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox at his monthly press briefing in Salt Lake City. Among the topics Co...

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during the PBS Utah Governor's Monthly News Conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox said he wants a Republican in the White House next year, but believes former President Donald Trump can’t win as the Republican nominee. He also said that he approves the Utah GOP pulling out of the presidential primary next year.

Cox’s comments came as he made the media rounds Thursday, holding his monthly news conference on PBS Utah and Let Me Speak to the Governor on KSL NewsRadio. 

Former President Trump is facing 91 charges against him in four different indictments. The most recent indictment was issued this week in Georgia. It involves the former president’s alleged plot to overturn the 2020 election in that state.  

“I would like the next president in the 2024 election to be a Republican,” Cox told reporters “And I don’t think that Donald Trump can win the presidency as the Republican nominee.”

Cox said that he was “troubled,” by the support for the former president, given all his legal troubles.

“He’s certainly entitled to run, he also happens to be the frontrunner … that does trouble me for sure,” Cox said. “Less so that he’s deciding to run and more so at the support that he’s getting.”

Cox said he believes that, and low approval ratings are the reasons Trump couldn’t beat out Democrats next year.

“I think we have some incredible candidates … and I hate the system by which we nominate candidates. I hate that Iowa and New Hampshire kind of get to decide for the rest of us,” he said.

Cox OKs Utah GOP move to forgo presidential primary

That was the same sentiment used to explain his approval of Utah Republicans opting out of the 2024 Presidential primary in lieu of voting in a presidential preference poll at caucus night on March 5, 2024.

Cox said he didn’t believe requiring Utah GOP members to vote in their caucuses would have a big impact on turnout. Voting in person at the caucus would replace primary ballots.

“Sadly, lots of people choose not to participate in the [presidential] primary anyway so I don’t know that there will be a large difference in the participation levels there,” he said on KSL NewsRadio’s monthly call-in show Let Me Speak to the Governor. 

Cox doesn’t approve of a process where early-voting states get to whittle down the field of candidates who drop out before Utah gets a chance to vote.

“I hope it matters,” he said about Utah’s presidential vote. “Usually we don’t matter … we’ve tried to move up a little bit to get to that March time frame so that hopefully Utah has a voice in it,” he said.

Cox, later clarified to KSL NewsRadio that he wasn’t saying Utahns’ votes don’t matter.

“Yes in the general [election] Utah’s votes count, they absolutely count,” he said. “But in the primary system when Iowa goes first and New Hampshire goes next… suddenly half the people have dropped out before we even get a chance to weigh in. And that to me is very frustrating.”

Cox acknowledged that security was a concern in the Utah GOP move to forgo county-run public elections.

“There’s no doubt that a caucus-type system does not lend itself to more security than we have at the state level,” he said.

The governor was asked how he reconciles his party calling for more election security but choosing a voting option for the caucuses with fewer safety measures.

“We care about election security, we will always work towards election security, and I certainly hope the party will as well,” he said.

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Gov. Cox doesn’t think Trump can win in 2024, approves Utah GOP opting out of presidential primary