‘The Rundown’: No, Spencer Cox is not a communist

Your Tuesday morning Utah political cheat sheet

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No, Spencer Cox is not a communist

I like to lurk on some of the...fringier Utah political Facebook pages. Over the long 4th of July weekend, I came across this eyebrow raising post.

Facebook meme attacking Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

Obviously, members of this group are not fans of the current governor. A consistent theme among followers is somehow Cox did not win the 2020 GOP primary election coupled with the baseless belief that a candidate who finished far behind was the real winner (because reasons).

But, this hilariously bad attempt at political commentary, which was accepted uncritically by the group members, also highlights the desperate need for better civics education in this country. It’s been several decades since I was sitting through my political science classes in college. Still, I’m confident my professors would throw me out of class if I tried to argue that the Republican governor of one of the most Republican states in the nation is somehow a secret communist.

I’ve been covering Cox for nearly a decade. I have never heard him advocate for replacing private property with public ownership of anything (which is the actual definition of communism).

Many of these same users have also accused Cox of being a socialist, which is also laughably wrong — unless you mistake his pleas for Utahns to get vaccinated as an insidious plot to undermine individual liberties.

This unfounded hysteria is reminiscent of Joseph McCarthy, who found very few communist spies in Washington or Hollywood during the “red scare” of the 1950s. But, he knew accusing someone of communism (or socialism) is an effective tool to discredit those he disagreed with.

I suspect this uninformed mob really doesn’t care they’re misusing the word. The point is that Cox is a political enemy, and the accusation delegitimizes him among a certain segment of the population.

Here’s what you need to know for Tuesday morning

Local news

  • A Utah environmental group says Rep. John Curtis’ new climate change caucus in Congress may be a way to give Republicans political cover. [Tribune]

  • Gov. Spencer Cox says the politicization of COVID-19 during the pandemic led to bad decisions by government officials. [Tribune]

National news

  • Today is the six-month anniversary of the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The FBI has arrested more than 500 people connected with the attack and is still seeking hundreds more. [AP]

  • Republican candidates are repeating the baseless claims of election fraud pushed by former President Donald Trump. Those lies about the election led to the January 6 assault on Congress. [WaPo]

  • Former President Trump and his legal team reached out to Arizona election officials in the aftermath of the 2020 election to pressure them to reverse the election results showing Joe Biden won the state. [12 News]

  • Republicans across the country are weighing whether to break up Democratic strongholds through redistricting in order to win more seats in Congress. [Politico]

  • Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar has become a strong ally of the leader of a white supremacist group. It’s the latest example of the GOP’s acceptance of political extremism. [NYT]

  • States with low vaccination rates have three times as many new COVID-19 cases as higher vaccination areas. [CNN]

  • Former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue personally lobbied to keep meatpacking plants open during the pandemic. [Investigate Midwest]

  • Gasoline prices in the U.S. hit the highest point in seven years as OPEC nations limit oil supplies. [WSJ]

  • U.S. forces left Bagram Airfield without informing the base’s new Afghan commander. Their departure was not discovered until more than two hours later. [AP]

  • Tropical Storm Elsa is aiming for southern Florida. Officials are warning of possibly life-threatening conditions from the storm. [CNN]

  • A group of hackers behind a “colossal” ransomware attack are demanding a ransom of $70 million in bitcoin. At least 200 companies have been hit. [BBC]

  • England is ending their COVID-19 lockdown rules by the middle of this month despite a surge in cases from the Delta variant of the virus. [CNN]

  • Juul is fighting to keep its e-cigarettes on the market in the U.S. despite thousands of lawsuits claiming the company targeted minors. [NYT]

“Utah Politics” podcast

This week, Ben Rhodes, the former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama, joined me on the podcast.

Rhodes talks about the existential threat to democracies around the globe as authoritarian movements are on the rise. We also discuss the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and his experience working on Rudy Giuliani’s re-election campaign.

You can download the episode for free here.

Tuesday morning’s Utah news roundup


  • I dug into Utah’s reputation as the worst state for women. Here’s what I found. [Tribune]

  • Utah’s homicide rate on pace with 2020′s record year. [Deseret News]

  • Utah Treasure Hunt ends with $10K discovery near a trailhead. [ABC 4]


  • Mitt Romney sells his massive California home, valued at more than $15M. [Tribune]

  • Experts agree that federal poverty policies need fixing, but disagree on how. [Deseret News]

  • Do bipartisan coalitions in Congress really work? Mitt Romney thinks so. [Deseret News]


  • The Delta variant is here. Should you put a mask on your child? [Deseret News]

  • Utah misses July 4th goal of 70% partially vaccinated. [ABC 4]


  • Birds throughout the hemisphere could pay for Utah’s water mistakes. [Tribune]

  • Drought forces Grand Junction to dip into Colorado River. [Tribune]

On the opinion pages

  • Robert Gehrke: This landlord should be utterly ashamed. [Tribune]

  • How Utah can seize opportunities to build for the future, from the Editorial Board. [Tribune]

  • Peter Reichard: Dry times in Utah highlight importance of long-term water management. [Tribune]

  • Bob Worsley and Noelle Cockett: Mitt Romney and Mike Lee should support bipartisan immigration solutions. [Tribune]

🎂 You say it’s your birthday?!!

Happy birthday to former state senator and former Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner.

Got a birthday you’d like us to recognize in this space? Send us an email.