Coronavirus put its stamp on Aimee Winder Newton’s bid to be governor
Apr 27, 2020 03:31PM
By Carl Fauver
Aimee Winder Newton and John Dougall were among a crowded field seeking Utah Republican delegate votes in the race for governor and lieutenant governor. (Courtesy Aimee Winder Newton)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
As you read this, in all likelihood Taylorsville resident and Salt Lake County Council member Aimee Winder Newton is a “former” candidate for Utah governor. On April 25 (after press deadline), Newton was among eight gubernatorial candidates seeking delegate votes during the state GOP convention.
Based on all the polls leading up to the convention, which was held online for the first time ever, it would have been a major upset for Newton to have advanced into a GOP primary race. But whether she did or not, this has been a busy and unique campaign season for perhaps the city’s most well-recognized elected official.
“I am running a very different campaign than I thought I would,” Newton said. “There are 4,000 Republican state delegates, and we have been reaching out to them as much as we can, primarily through Zoom meetings. It feels odd to be wearing work clothing on top, along with sweats and slippers. But these are the times we’re in.”
Newton says her very first large Zoom meeting, with about 130 delegates online, took an interesting twist.
“We had someone hack in and put pornographic pictures up; they took complete control of the meeting,” she said. “It’s called ‘Zoom bombing’ and is happening all over the country. So, we had to cancel that meeting. But we have had several since then with no problems.”
Coronavirus social distancing also forced Newton to shoot her first campaign commercial on an iPhone.
“Some say I’m innovative; some say I’m cheap; bottom line: I do more with less,” she said in the ad. “Utah’s bright future is not a given; it must be earned.”
Lost in all the nothing-but-virus news cycles was Newton’s announcement of her lieutenant governor running mate, Utah State Auditor John Dougall. The former Utah State Representative is the oldest of 11 children and prides himself on the nickname he inherited from his father: “Frugal Dougall.”
“Aimee and I have known each other at least six years and have worked together on several issues,” Dougall said. “I’ve watched her try to improve government by standing up to the ‘good ol’ boys’ on behalf of taxpayers. We are going into more severe economic crisis than anyone sees (because of the coronavirus). We’ve never really been through this circumstance. That’s part of the reason I agreed to join her campaign.”
“I had a short list of people for lieutenant governor before the virus changed everything,” Newton said. “This COVID-19 has changed my No. 1 priority to getting people back to work. When I looked at who could best help me with that, John was an easy choice. I have the most local government experience of anyone in the race, while John has the most state government experience.”
Regardless of whether they earned their way onto a primary election ballot during the GOP state convention, Newton and Dougall will remain in their current elected positions. The Taylorsville High School graduate Newton still has two years remaining on her current county council seat, while Dougall would resume his reelection campaign for state auditor.
“Social distancing has made our campaign more of a challenge,” Newton said. “Fundraising has been tough, because we can’t hold normal fundraising events. Also, many voters want to meet you face-to-face and look into your eyes to see the kind of person you are. But we’ve done our best to get our message out to Utah voters.”
Editor’s note: Newton finished third in voting during the GOP convention on April 25 meaning she won’t proceed to the primary race. Newton tweeted her appreciation hours after the result that she “could not be more proud” of her grassroots-driven campaign. “With a tenth of what other campaigns spent, we came in a strong third finish and defied expecations.”