Democratic Governor candidate Brian King gives an inside look to his 2024 campaign

SALT LAKE CITY – During Utah’s 2024 legislative session, Brian King, who is vying for the governorship and currently serving in the Utah House of Representatives, is intensifying his campaign efforts for the upcoming elections.

Running as a Democrat, King is ramping up his campaign efforts in preparation for the November general elections, where he will face the winner of the Republican primary. King is presently the sole candidate vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the position of Governor.

King recently spoke with TownLift to discuss his 2024 campaign and priorities for Utah if elected Governor.

A Utah native, King grew up in Salt Lake City and attended the University of Utah, where he earned his law degree in 1985. King owns and operates a Salt Lake City based firm, focusing on advocating for individuals engaged in litigation against health, life, and disability insurance companies.

King has also served in the Utah House of Representatives since 2009, and currently represents District 23, which encompasses parts of Salt Lake and Summit Counties.

From 2015 to 2023, Rep. King served as the House Minority Leader, and he currently sits on the Business and Labor Committee, Judiciary Committee, and the Judicial Rules Review Committee.

If elected as Governor, King hopes to limit the power that Republicans have gathered in the state Legislature.

“One of the things that we are trying to do is that we’ve had, now for decades, basically single party control of government in the state of Utah. We’ve had a situation where the Republicans have had supermajority control over the Legislature,” King said. 

King hopes to counterbalance the Legislature as Governor, something he believes current Governor Spencer Cox has not done.

“In Utah, I think we deserve better than what we’re getting from our governor,” King said.We’ve got a governor who came in with some important messages about moderation and pragmatism, and about looking after vulnerable communities with empathy and compassion.”

“What we’ve seen over the last three years that he’s served as the governor is a steady shift to the right. A lot of these bills are nothing more than pandering to the most extreme members of the Republican Party, and that troubles me, as we don’t have a governor who will stand up and say, hey, listen when lousy legislation comes across my desk, I’m going to veto it.”

While Cox has vetoed several pieces of legislation throughout his term, the Legislature has often overrode his veto with their supermajority and passed the bill anyway. If elected, King believes he will be able to limit that from happening.

“I’m going to take my question, my issue, my position, and the reasons that I acted the way I did to the Legislature and to the people in the state of Utah, and we’re going to have a discussion about who’s got the better side of the argument, the governor or the state legislature,” King said when asked how he would overcome the Legislature’s overriding powers.

“If the governor’s reflecting the values of the state of Utah when he vetoes legislation, he’s going to be able to convince Utah that the legislation was bad. Governor Cox makes no effort to use his platform and his position to take issues that are controversial to the people and say here’s why I’ve been vetoing legislation.”

King believes Cox has been reined in by the Legislature, something he thinks he’d be able to avoid if elected.

“He’s [Cox] really been reined in by the legislature. Leadership has gone to him and said, look, we’re in charge here. We can do this the hard way or the easy way,” King said. “If you want to veto our bills, we’re going to really come after you and create a problem for you in terms of what we say about you and how we treat you, and he’s rolled over and he hasn’t stood up to that.”

“When you have a governor who is of a different party, there’s no expectation to be on board with the legislature. There’s a greater willingness to have me as the Governor going to the people of Utah and saying this particular issue, whether it’s reproductive freedom, or whether it’s funding for our public education system, and saying to people this is what a Democratic governor wants to achieve, and this how it differs from the Legislature.”

According to King, this will create more robust levels of communication within the state, and allow people to voice their opinions to their representatives in the Legislature, ultimately creating more moderate legislation in the state.

King used the example of Utah’s laws on abortion as an example of how the Legislature and Cox have failed to address the people of Utah on controversial issues.

“What the legislature has done on reproductive freedom issue is poor policy. We should not be restricting the most personal, private, and important decisions that people make in their lives,” King said. “The governor has made no attempt to say that to the people of Utah, rather he has signed into law, bills that restrict, to an even greater degree, people’s choice on things like reproductive freedom.”

Reproductive freedom will be one of King’s main campaign points leading up to November, as well as the issue of preserving the Great Salt Lake, increasing funding for public education, as well as violence prevention.

“I think that’s very troubling and it concerns me a great deal,” King said about abortion laws in Utah. “I think a lot of legislators and the governor are second guessing their decisions about these kinds of things.”

“We’re going to be talking a lot about reproductive freedom. We’re going be talking a lot about things like the Great Salt Lake.”

Disagreeing with Phil Lyman, another Republican candidate for Governor, King believes Utah hasn’t done enough to preserve the Great Salt Lake, while still acknowledging the Legislature has passed legislation regarding preserving it.

“I think that we can do more about the Great Salt Lake. The legislature has done some things, and we have set aside a significant amount of money and we formed the Great Salt Lake trust. There’s some good things that are happening,” King said.

“One of the things that we have not done a good job at is measuring and getting water to the lake. None of the things that we’ve done have had the effect as far as we know, are actually moving water into the lake at a greater volume than what we’ve had in the past. And we need to get more aggressive about that.”

For King to be elected, he will need to have a large amount of voters reach out across party lines to vote for a Democratic candidate, something which he believes to be possible due to the inter-party troubles within the Republican party.

“Today’s Republican Party is revealing itself as being in the thrall of an authoritarian influence,” King said. “In 2020, when the leader of the Republican party ran for reelection, there was no Republican platform at all.”

“There wasn’t an effort to talk about policies at all. And since then, we’ve seen a repeat of that in the 2024 campaign by Donald Trump. We’ve seen him explicitly talk about being an authoritarian and being in control. Just trust me, give me the power, give me all the power, I’ll do whatever I want,” King said about Trump.

King believes the state of the national Republican party can help him win the gubernatorial election, as he believes Republican voters will be willing to switch sides.

“I took the same oath of office as a state legislator that Spencer Cox took to be the governor, which is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” King said.

“And that’s what I’m going to do. And that’s what I think people across the state of Utah to an increasing degree are realizing themselves. They believe in the Constitution too. And they’re not gonna continue to vote for Republicans when it becomes increasingly clear that Republican leadership simply doesn’t commit to defending, preserving, and defending the Constitution.”

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