SALT LAKE CITY – In the high-stakes game to replace the outgoing governor of Utah, GOP candidate Jeff Burningham is betting that the outsider card will prove to be his ace-in-the-hole.
“I trust the people of Utah, not government,” the Provo businessman has said. “We need to recognize that it is the people of Utah who built our booming economy, not the government.”
Burningham is the only viable Republican candidate in the crowded race to win retiring Gov. Gary Herbert’s office that has never previously been involved in politics. Instead, his resume is full of impressive business accomplishments in the private sector.
The Utah native’s reputation as an entrepreneur began while he was still a student at Brigham Young University when he and a classmate founded Mindwire, an award-winning tech start-up. Two years later, the firm had 20 employees when it was snapped-up by a NASDAQ-listed company where Burningham was appointed executive vice-president.
Burningham then invested in the red-hot real estate market, but liquidated his assets in 2006, two years prior to the collapse of the real estate bubble.
In 2008, Burningham reentered the troubled housing market by founding Peak Capital Partners, which has since grown into a $2 billion real estate investment firm. The firm now has 500 team members who have delivered affordable housing for tens of thousands of families.
In 2014, he was named the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Mountain West Region.
Most recently, Burningham founded Peak Ventures, an angel capital firm that facilitates entrepreneurial activities in Utah and throughout the United States. Peak Ventures has invested $40 million in more than 40 start-up enterprises employing about 4,000 workers.
Given that background, Burningham is firmly convinced that it was the people of Utah who have built the most diversified economy in the country, the second-fastest-growing tech sector and made Utah the best state for upward mobility.
“This campaign for Utah’s next governor isn’t about yesterday’s ideas, or even today’s status quo,” Burningham insists. “It’s all about tomorrow’s opportunity.
“We live in a rapidly-changing world and our state government needs to adapt to those changes. It’s time to challenge the inertia of bureaucracy and bring new ways of thinking to government.”
Burningham emphasizes that his track record as a game-changing business executive and experienced job-creating entrepreneur sets him apart from run-of-the-mill candidates. He promises to help Utahns develop a “smart plan” for the future while upholding the state’s conservative way of life.
Last week, Burningham announced State Senator Dan McCay as his runningmate.