Gubernatorial candidate says economy should reopen now

GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Hughes told Wellsville residents May 15 that he opposes coronavirus color codes and trickle-down economic recovery.

WELLSVILLE – Less than 24 hours after Cache County moved to Yellow/Low risk status for the coronavirus on May 15, GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Hughes brought his campaign to Wellsville for a face-to-face meeting with potential voters.

“I hate the color yellow,” Hughes confessed by way of preamble. “I’m into red, white and blue. I hate color codes and I hate the whole deal with the government telling us all what to do and when to do it.”

Since successfully emerging from the Republican nominating convention on April 30, Hughes has been vocal in his criticism of the state’s response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The former speaker of the Utah House of Representatives has flatly declared the state-mandated economic shutdown was governmental over-reach.

“I’ll tell you upfront that I’m not selling any ice cream,” Hughes said bluntly at the hastily organized town hall meeting at Ellis Equipment in Wellsvile. “I will tell you the truth. That means that sometimes we’re going to have uncomfortable conversations. Like, for example, that … Utah legislative analysts are saying that just getting back to the economic status quo we had in early March will take two to four years.”

Hughes argues that the state government’s social distancing and self-isolation mandates are responsible for much of that economic damage. He also insists that the state has no authority to decide what businesses are essential, how and when people can worship and how many citizens can lawfully assemble.

“Under the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution … our essential freedoms are not subject to being ignored or curtailed by the government under any state of emergency declaration,” the candidate said.

No one at the Wellsville meeting seemed to be inclined to challenge Hughes’ assertions. Proof that the candidate was largely “preaching to the choir” could be seen in the fact of the approximately 30 local residents gathered for the meeting, only four were wearing face masks despite Gov. Gary Herbert’s public admonishments to do so.

“I’m not discounting the threat of this disease,” Hughes admitted. “It’s real and I know that. But what is also real is the fact that it’s a false choice to be told that you can just stay inside indefinitely…

“Should we all take precautions? Of course. Should the most vulnerable segments of our population be protected? Definitely. Should people be encouraged to self-quarantine if they feel that’s necessary? Fine …

“But there’s only one way out of this mess and that’s by doing what we’ve always done. That’s working,” he argued.

“I say that Utah needs to give everyone in this room and everyone in the state the chance to get out and work for a living. Yes, we want our health to be safe. But we also want our homes, our families and our livelihoods to be safe.

“That can’t happen with the government giving you color codes and a slow trickle of economic recovery,” Hughes concluded. “We need to reopen our economy right now.”


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