Utah Democratic candidates for governor announce running mates: one picks his father, the other chooses a popular Facebook page founder

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Ray Pino and his newly designated running mate have different political affiliations and are many years apart in age, but they have at least one big thing in common.

Their names.

Pino on Wednesday announced that he’s chosen his father, Nikki Ray Pino Sr., to run on his ticket. The 31-year-old candidate said he believes his dad will bring a wealth of experience to the ticket and the perspective of another generation.

“I’m young and represent the younger generations. I see the problems that we’re coming up on in the world,” Pino said in a phone interview. “He’s from an older generation, so he saw the world how it used to be and how it has changed over time.”

[Read more: Election 2020: Utah’s gubernatorial candidates and where they stand on the issues]

Pino said his father, 58, of Cedar Hills, is a retired Army lieutenant colonel who worked at the Pentagon for a time and has a background in military intelligence. And he believes having a father-son ticket will generate some buzz going into this weekend’s Democratic party nominating convention, where he’ll fight for a spot on the primary ballot.

“'Oh, it’s a Pino-Pino ticket. Is he running twice?'” he imagines people wondering. “It might get people’s attention.”

And as a way to reduce political polarization, he added, the ticket will be bipartisan — while Pino is a Democrat, his father is a Republican.

Democratic candidate Zachary Moses, a 36-year-old CEO of a travel company that focuses on LGBTQ clients, also announced his running mate Wednesday. His choice is Nathan Kizerian, a medical marijuana advocate and the founder of the popular Facebook page Utah Satire, which has a following of more than 130,000 people.

Moses said in a news release that he kept running into Kizerian during the campaign and that they “hit it off at the Capitol immediately.”

“I was up there wearing my political trucker hat, getting an idea for how to win this race, and suddenly this guy gets up and just starts drilling the Legislature,” he wrote. “It was powerful. He drilled them for crooked behavior and thoughtless legislation. The news loved him and the politicians feared him. I knew I liked him immediately. This guy knows how real politics get done!”

In a video announcing his decision to enter the race on Facebook Wednesday, Kizerian said he had doubts about accepting Moses’ proposition because he’s “just a guy" who doesn’t have much experience in politics.

But ultimately, he said he decided that “we need just a guy up at the Capitol. We need just a guy that’s seen poverty. We need people that have struggled."

“I’m just a guy that walked through hell with my family," he added, recounting the challenges he and his wife financially as she was dying of colon cancer. “And it hit me today. I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m going to do this. I’m going to run with you, Zach.’”

Pino and Moses aren’t the only candidates to announce their running mates this week in the lead up to Saturday’s convention. University of Utah professor Chris Peterson announced Monday that he was choosing Karina Brown, a Cache County resident and Medicaid expansion advocate, to run on his ticket.

Neil Hansen, Ryan Jackson and Archie Williams III are also running in the Democratic primary.