Utah Gov. Spencer Cox says he is troubled at how much support Donald Trump is getting from Republicans for his 2024 presidential bid, especially since he is facing 91 felony counts in four separate criminal indictments. Cox says those mounting legal problems are a big reason why he believes Trump will lose next year if he is the GOP nominee.
“I like to win elections. I like when Republicans win elections, and I desperately think we need a Republican president. I don’t think Donald Trump can win the presidency as the Republican nominee,” Cox said during a semi-regular news conference on Thursday.
The criminal charges against Trump continue to pile up. On Monday, Trump and 18 allies were charged with 41 felonies in Georgia for the plot to illegally overturn the 2020 election results. Trump is also facing federal charges in Washington, D.C., for his attempts to undo his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. There also are federal charges pending in Florida for his handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence. Additionally, Trump is staring down charges in New York for paying hush money to an adult film actress with whom he is alleged to have had an affair.
Cox also pointed to Trump’s low approval ratings as another reason he would be unlikely to defeat Joe Biden in an electoral rematch in 2024. A recent Associated Press survey found 62% of Americans hold an unfavorable view of Trump.
“His approval rating is so low right now, it would be very hard to change that,” Cox said.
Cox declined to endorse any of the three Republicans on the ballot in next month’s Republican special primary election in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District race to replace Rep. Chris Stewart in Congress.
After pledging public neutrality, Cox then made the case for voters to cast a ballot for Celeste Maloy.
“I would love to have some representation off of the Wasatch Front. I’m a rural guy from south of the ‘Payson/Dixon Line,’ as we refer to it sometimes. We don’t have a member of Congress who lives out there,” Cox said.
“I know that obviously sounds like I’m endorsing someone,” Cox said, catching himself.
Maloy, a former staffer in Stewart’s office, has only lived in southern Utah since mid-June after relocating from Virginia to run for Stewart’s seat. Questions about her residency have plagued Maloy since she narrowly defeated former House Speaker Greg Hughes at the GOP convention when it was learned she did not cast a ballot in the 2022 and 2020 elections.
Russ Walker, Hough’s campaign manager, was bewildered by Cox’s non-endorsement endorsement of Maloy.
“That’s a funny comment from the governor, considering she [Maloy] hadn’t voted in 4 of the last 6 elections, hasn’t paid taxes in Utah for years, has been living 2,100 miles away in Virginia for the last 4 years, and until 60 days ago wasn’t registered to vote in Utah,” Walker said.
Not wanting to shortchange either of Maloy’s opponents, Cox said Hough was “a great guy,” and noted he had a “great relationship” with Edwards during her time in the Utah Legislature.
“They’re all very capable, and I think we’re lucky to have three candidates who are just that capable,” Cox said before again heaping praise on Maloy.
“Celeste, having worked with Congressman Stewart, can hit the ground running faster than anybody else. She’s been involved in all the issues. She’s literally worked in that office and is unbelievably talented,” Cox said.