SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 8, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Former House Speaker Greg Hughes announced a run for Utah governor Wednesday.
Hughes called a press conference Wednesday morning at Dee’s Automotive on State Street, a family business which he said represents Utah to him. Hughes started getting his car fixed at the shop in his early 20s and said the family allowed him to make payments as he didn’t have the money to pay the bill outright.
“I came to Utah broke, looking to go to school, not having anything,” Hughes told the assembled crowd.
Hughes said this is a historic time for Utah in terms of the candidates that are running for governor.
“If you get a candidate that can’t tell you very quickly why they are running, I’m gonna tell you kick him to the curb,” Hughes said. “You better know why. Because we’re in that time. It’s that event for this state. Let me tell you why I’m running.
“In my public service, I’ve seen a few things,” he said. “One is that in politics, sadly, sometimes, there is this instinct, to say nothing to offend no one. Sometimes there’s hard decisions that you know are going to be difficult, that are going to require discussions and debate, and you might not be liked, but you have to do it, if you want to get something done.”
He added: “This state, it’s growth, and what we have, in the way of great opportunities, the work we have in front of us right now is hard, and it’s going to require the heavy lifting. I’ve seen in the past where that’s not occurred. I’ve seen a state that’s doing so well that some have rested on their laurels, and have enjoyed the prosperity. That’s not going to serve this state and that’s not how this state is going to keep going in the direction it is.”
Hughes said he believes there are challenges he will face, but he feels there are solutions to those challenges.
“We can’t afford to talk in platitudes in this race and so my entry into this race is going to require that we get a lot more specific.”
Hughes also said his public image has been misunderstood.
“There’s a saying by Steve Jobs that if you want to make everybody happy don’t be a leader, sell ice cream,” Hughes added. “I don’t sell ice cream. I don’t want to scare everybody, but I want to talk about the challenges, but the incredible opportunity that we have and the trajectory we still have to go.
“I will always tell you the truth. It might not be what you want to hear, it might be hard, but I will always tell you the truth, and we need that in the public discourse.”
He added: “I believe with all my heart that we need action in this state. We need the hard work to occur. And I come before you… you’re the average Joe, you’re the average Jane, and that’s who I want to run for, that’s who I identify with.”
Hughes teared up as he said knows what it feels like to live with no electricity in your house, to have a landlord at the door telling you to leave.
“We don’t just talk, but we do,” he said. “I’m not running against other candidates; they can run for an open seat, as well. I’m making my case directly to you, and this state. I’m the average guy, and I’m running for the average guy and girl.”
Hughes also briefly touched upon the current situation in Iran.
“Around the world, scary times,” he said. “Our military, our men and women in the military right now, serving this country and protecting this country in harm’s way, I know that all of our thoughts and prayers are with our military right now. I want people to know how grateful I know this whole state is, that we are, for members of our military.”
Also in the race for governor are Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, former Utah governor and former U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton, entrepreneur Jeff Burningham, former Utah Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright and Jason Christensen.
Hughes represented Draper, District 51 from Jan. 1, 2003 through Dec. 31, 2018.
He served as House Speaker from Jan. 26, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2018, and previously served as majority whip.
The House of Representatives website said of Hughes that during his time in the Legislature, he passed legislation to implement state spending limitations and supported a flatter state tax, truth in bonding and other tax and spending reforms.
Hughes also worked on a number of bills to support military and veterans, including sponsoring a Purple Heart tuition waiver for injured vets.
He grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, moved to Utah to work on a political campaign and attended Utah Valley University and BYU.
Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information becomes available.