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'We can disagree without hating each other': Utah gubernatorial rivals unite in call for decency

A Democrat and Republican battling for governor in Utah have issued a joint ad calling on people to be civil despite their political disagreements.

SALT LAKE CITY — Rival candidates vying to become Utah's next governor joined together in new ads Tuesday urging people to accept the results of the November elections and maintain decency with one another despite political differences.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican who is the heavy favorite to win the race in deeply conservative Utah, joined his Democratic challenger Chris Peterson appear side-by-side in ads that feature a lighthearted approach but a serious message as they aim to offer a counterweight to the divisive political climate of 2020.

In a tweet promoting the ads, Cox said, “We can disagree without hating each other" in a nod to Utah's political climate where many try to strike a more cordial, compassionate tone rooted in the beliefs of the state's predominant religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Although we sit on different sides of the aisle, we are both committed to American civility and a peaceful transition of power,” Cox says in one ad.

“We hope Utah will be an example to the nation,” responds Peterson, a University of Utah law professor.

“Because that is what our country is built on," Cox responds.

The ads come after President Donald Trump has cast doubt on election results.

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Cox and Peterson are in a unique position to team up for the message because they are not locked in a heated race. Cox already cleared his stiffest hurdle when he defeated a crowded GOP primary field that included U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr., who had previously served as governor and is a well-known political name.

Republicans account for more than half of all registered voters in Utah and outnumber Democrats by more than a three-to-one margin.

Trump is expected to win Utah again despite voters in the state being uncomfortable with his brash style and his comments about women and immigrants.

Cox, who casts himself as a “farm kid” and everyday Utah resident, criticized Trump during the 2016 for not representing “goodness nor kindness.” But he has since become a supporter of the president.

Credit: AP
This photo taken Sept. 29, 2020, shows Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, left, a Republican and Democratic challenger Chris Peterson, rivals to become Utah's next governor, bumping elbows after facing each other in a prime-time debate in Salt Lake City. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune, via AP, Pool)