Businesswoman and occasional political candidate Jan Garbett said she considered several potential races for the 2020 election cycle and had started laying the groundwork for another congressional run against Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah.
But her plans changed last month, she said, when all six of the Republican candidates for Utah governor indicated their support for the reelection of President Donald Trump during a debate at the annual Silicon Slopes Tech Summit.
“When I learned that every single Republican candidate is aligned with Donald Trump," Garbett said, “I thought, ‘Oh, Utah doesn’t have a choice.'"
Garbett announced her candidacy for governor this week, making her the seventh Republican vying to lead the state’s executive branch. She said her business experience — as co-founder of Garbett Homes — gives her a fresh perspective in the race, adding that she’d bring a practical, conservative approach while defending the state’s priorities.
“We don’t have to be trapped here in Utah,” she said. “We can vote for a candidate whose values align with Utah values and who’s willing to stand up for that.”
Garbett faces a competitive field for the Republican nomination, following the candidacies of Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, former Utah Gov. and U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman, former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, former Utah Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton and Jeff Burningham, a Provo businessman.
She also has an inconsistent record of Republican Party affiliation after briefly running for Congress under the United Utah Party banner in 2018 and running for lieutenant governor on a Democratic ticket in 2016.
Garbett said Friday that she has been a Republican for “most” of her life and that she’s comfortable in the state’s majority party.
“I have gone through some disillusionment,” she said. “And I think there are a few other people in Utah who have done that same thing.”
Garbett said she will collect signatures under Utah’s dual-track nomination law, SB54, and that she will employ paid signatures gatherers as well as rely on volunteers. Most of her opponents are also collecting signatures, in addition to seeking support from party delegates, with the exception of Hughes, who sought only the caucus-convention route to the party nomination, and Winder Newton, who earlier this week abandoned her signature collection efforts, conceding she couldn’t reach the needed 28,000 signatures without paying for petition passers.
“I’m not too worried that I’m entering the race now,” Garbett said. “I think we can get everything done that we need to get done.”
Asked about her campaign priorities, Garbett said she is passionate about the issue of homelessness and would like to see enhanced statewide oversight of that issue. She was also critical of offering tax breaks to large, out-of-state businesses and said the Legislature has allowed Utah’s construction industry to build to antiquated, energy-inefficient standards.
“I want to remind the state, I want to remind the Legislature," she said, “that there is opportunity here to really care about clean air.”