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Will Cox and Henderson publicly disavow Weiler’s attacks on Huntsman and reject Weiler’s endorsement?

Key Points

  • Utah State Senator Todd Weiler is one of Lt. Governor Spencer Cox’s strongest, long-time supporters.
  • Weiler routinely uses social media to attack those he disagrees with. In addition, in 2011, the Davis County Republican Party Ethics Committee found an ethics complaint filed against Weiler “to have validity.”
  • Weiler has attacked Jon Huntsman Jr. on numerous fronts including challenging his commitment to Utah, his religion and his Utah residency.
  • All of this raises the question of whether Cox and his running mate, Deidre Henderson, approve of Weiler’s attacks on Huntsman.

Utah State Senator Todd Weiler is one of Lt. Governor Spencer Cox’s strongest supporters. For example, on February 1, 2020 Weiler helped Cox gather signatures in Bountiful and Cox has posted Weiler’s endorsement in two different places on his website.

In addition to endorsing Cox, Weiler has kept up a steady stream of attacks on Jon Huntsman Jr. who is arguably Cox’s most serious competitor. Cox and his Lt. Governor choice, Deidre Henderson, have remained silent about Weiler’s activities as they claim to be running a positive, squeaky clean campaign.

A review of the record indicates that attacking those he disagrees with is standard operating practice for Weiler. He has been accused of political misconduct by others including reportedly creating a fake online profile, called “GOP Hack” to say “nasty things about candidates in the 2010 election cycle,” reportedly calling a former Davis County GOP Chairwoman a “hottie,” reportedly digging up dirt on those he opposes, posting Jonathan Johnson’s voter registration form which included sensitive personal identifying information on Facebook, and reportedly spreading rumors that the woman who was running against him some years ago “was neglecting her children because they helped her with her campaign while going door to door to meet neighbors.”

In addition, in 2011, the Davis County Republican Party Ethics Committee found an ethics complaint filed against Weiler “to have validity.”

So what exactly has Weiler said about Jon Huntsman Jr?

On November 14, 2019, Weiler tweeted that Huntsman “uses Utah like a stand-by girl friend. He only calls when the girl he really wants is not available.”

The same day, Weiler also went after Huntsman for resigning his Ambassadorship to Moscow when he tweeted “Huntsman spent about two years in Moscow before—you guessed it—resigning…If elected how long will he serve before resigning?”  (Note: It is standard practice for both career and political appointee Ambassadors to serve at a given post for two years or so and then move on.)

On May 6, Weiler suggested on Twitter that Paul Huntsman, Jon Huntsman Jr.’s brother, needed to step down from his leadership position at the Salt Lake Tribune due to what Weiler sees as a conflict of interest and he also tweeted “Remember that one time when Huntsman promised to fill out his second term as Governor?”

Weiler has tried to make religion an issue. In a May 11, 2020 Facebook post in the Big Tent Republicans group he wrote: “Has Huntsman decided what religion he is?” On June 1 he tweeted, “Apparently @JonHuntsman jr really, really, really wants to make sure that everyone knows that his grandpa was an apostle. So he’s running ads with his mom explicitly spelling it out for you.”

By June, Weiler was trying to get Huntsman disqualified from running by challenging his Utah residency. On June 1 he tweeted “I think @JonHuntsman needs to answer if he voted in Virginia in 2016 or 2018. I think he also needs to explain how he was a Utah resident while his young daughters were attending school in Virginia.”

On June 2, he tweeted: “Serious question: How does @JonHuntsman meet the Utah Constitution’s five year residency requirement?  I mean, he was living and working (and probably voting) in D.C. for several years between China and Russia. Are @sltrib reporters allowed to investigate this?” (Note: The Tribune did write an article about this post.)

While Weiler’s tactics may garner some votes, they also risk alienating voters. For example, following Weiler’s questioning of Jon Huntsman’s residency, on June 6 former state legislator Steve Urquhart wrote on Facebook “I am deciding between Huntsman and Cox….The residency attack pushes me toward Huntsman.”

Multiple responses to Urquhart’s post flowed in trying to distance Cox and his campaign from Weiler’s comments.

  • Michelle responded : “Classless. But also not coming from Cox himself nor his campaign.”
  • Alex wrote: “And Weiler? He does and says what he wants. Not fair at all to imply Spencer has something to do with Todd’s Twitter rant.”
  • Steve H. expressed confusion about who was responsible: “I agree with you on the residency issue. Not classy. But is it Cox, or just Weiler?”

Apparently, this was not enough to save Urquhart’s vote for Cox since in a June 11 Facebook post Urquhart announced that “I am excited to vote for Jon Huntsman!” 

All of this raises the question of whether Cox and his running mate, Deidre Henderson, approve of Weiler’s attacks on Huntsman.

If Cox and Henderson don’t support Weiler’s actions, will they publicly disavow Weiler’s attacks on Huntsman and will they remove Weiler’s endorsement from their website?

Ronald Mortensen

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