SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and his Democratic opponent Mike Weinholtz are scheduled to meet Monday night in their first and likely only televised debate this year.
Herbert and Weinholtz have made a few joint appearances as they run for the state’s top office this year, including a daytime debate two weeks ago where they sparred over Utah’s push to gain control of federal lands in the state.
Their hourlong matchup at Utah State University in Logan will be shown on local television stations, airing just before Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet for the first of three presidential debates.
Herbert, who has been in office since 2009, is not only much more well-known than his opponent, but has a major advantage as the Republican nominee in a conservative state that hasn’t chosen a Democratic governor in three decades.
If he wins, he will have served as governor for about 11 ½ years by the time he would leave office in January 2021, becoming one of the state’s longest serving governors.
To challenge him, Weinholtz is expected to rehash some the criticisms lodged by Herbert’s primary opponent earlier this year about the governor’s reliance on wealthy campaign donors. A recording emerged this spring where Herbert referred to himself as “Available Jones” when speaking to lobbyists and offering to meet in exchange for campaign donations.
Herbert has said he was disappointed in himself but that nothing unethical or illegal occurred.
He has raised more than $3.1 million this year. His most recent campaign reports show he’s continued to bring in big checks, collecting more than $340,000 so far in September.
Weinholtz is a wealthy former CEO of a medical staffing company making his first run for public office.
He has relied heavily on his own money to fund his campaign, having loaned his campaign $2.5 million this year. He has only raised about $180,000 in contributions from other people, groups and businesses.
The debate will also be broadcast live on KVNU 610 AM/102.1 FM while also being streamed on 610kvnu.com and on the KVNU mobile app.