GOP candidate Burningham selects hard-line running mate

Utah Sen. Dan McCay (left) was selected as GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Burningham's running mate on April 1.

SALT LAKE CITY – GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Burningham has selected Utah Sen. Dan McCay as his running mate in the crowded race to replace outgoing Gov. Gary Herbert.

Burningham announced his choice of McCay on April 1, during the latest of 12 recent online meetings with Republican state delegates and voters.

The Utah entrepreneur praised McCay as “one of the most conservative legislators in Utah.”

McCay, an alum of Utah State University, has represented the Riverton area in the Legislature since 2012, first in the Utah House and since 2018 in the Senate. His legislative experience included appointments to House and Senate committees overseeing Higher Education Appropriations, Revenue and Taxation, Public Education and Information Technology.

In the Legislature, McCay certainly earned his conservative reputation.

In 2019, he criticized a coalition of faith and community leaders who urged the Legislature to enact an expansion of state Medicaid coverage. McCay tweeted that turning to the government for such assistance was equivalent to admitting that their religious organizations had failed to sufficiently care for the poor.

In the most recent session of the Legislature, he was also among Senate supporters of controversial abortion legislation that included a so-called “trigger clause” that would be activated if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision.

Burningham added that McCay will be a lieutenant governor “who understands the Legislative process and can help pass an agenda that gets Utah back on track.”

“Utah needs a chief executive officer right now,” McCay emphasized. “Jeff Burningham is that CEO. He has the business experience to get Utah’s economy growing again, without sacrificing our way of life.”

Burningham’s announcement leaves former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes as the only Republican in the gubernatorial race who has not selected a running mate.

Former GOP Chairman Thomas Wright selected outgoing U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop as his running mate in January. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has named Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi as his pick; Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox selected state Sen. Deidre Henderson; Jan Garbett chose Dr. Joe Jarvis; and, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton selected state Auditor John Dougall.

Burningham and McCay indicated their intent to continue to reach out to voters through online meetings prior to the state’s virtual GOP convention later this month.

Through that process, Republican delegates will advance up to two candidates to the state’s June primary ballot. Two candidates – Wright and Cox — have already qualified for the ballot by submitting 28,000 voter signatures each.

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