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Gary Herbert
Gary Herbert 2019.jpg
17th Governor of Utah
In office
August 11, 2009 – January 4, 2021
Lieutenant Greg Bell (2009–2013)
Spencer Cox (2013–2021)
Preceded by Jon Huntsman Jr.
Succeeded by Spencer Cox
Chair of the National Governors Association
In office
July 25, 2015 – July 17, 2016
Deputy Terry McAuliffe
Preceded by John Hickenlooper
Succeeded by Terry McAuliffe
6th Lieutenant Governor of Utah
In office
January 3, 2005 – August 11, 2009
Governor Jon Huntsman Jr.
Preceded by Gayle McKeachnie
Succeeded by Greg Bell
Member of the Utah County Commission
In office
Preceded by Brent Morris
Succeeded by Larry Ellertson
Personal details
Gary Richard Peters

(1947-05-07) May 7, 1947 (age 77)
American Fork, Utah, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse Jeanette Snelson
Children 6
Education Brigham Young University
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Army
Rank Staff sergeant
Unit Utah Army National Guard

Gary Richard Herbert (born May 7, 1947) is an American politician who served as the 17th governor of Utah from 2009 to 2021. A member of the Republican Party, he chaired the National Governors Association during the 2015–2016 cycle.

Herbert won a seat on the Utah County Commission in 1990, where he served 14 years. He ran for the Republican nomination for governor in 2004, ultimately becoming fellow Republican candidate Jon Huntsman's running mate in the general election. Herbert served as the sixth lieutenant governor of Utah from 2005 until August 11, 2009, when he assumed the governorship following the resignation of Huntsman, who was appointed to serve as the United States Ambassador to China by President Barack Obama. Herbert was elected to serve out the remainder of the term in a special gubernatorial election in 2010, defeating Democratic nominee Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon with 64% of the vote. He won election to a full four-year term in 2012, defeating Democratic Businessman Peter Cooke with 68% of the vote and was re-elected to a second full four-year term in 2016. Herbert announced in 2019 that he would not seek re-election to a third full term in 2020; he endorsed the gubernatorial candidacy of his Lieutenant Governor, Spencer Cox.

Early life, education and career

Herbert was born in American Fork, the son of Carol (Boley) and Paul Richard Peters. His parents divorced when he was a toddler; his mother soon remarried to Duane Barlow Herbert, who legally adopted him. His biological father also remarried, but Herbert and his paternal half-siblings were raised in different households and had minimal contact with each other. Herbert grew up in Orem, Utah. He graduated from Orem High School, served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Eastern States Mission and later attended Brigham Young University, but did not graduate.

He is married to Jeanette Snelson Herbert; they have six children and sixteen grandchildren. Mrs. Herbert was born in Preston, Idaho. She moved with her family as a young child to Springville, Utah. She is Honorary Chair of the Governor's Commission on Literacy.

Herbert served for six years as a member of the Utah Army National Guard, becoming a staff sergeant. Following his time in the National Guard, he set up a real estate firm, Herbert and Associates Realtors. Herbert was president of the Utah Association of Counties and Utah Association of Realtors. Mrs. Herbert ran a child care service, The Kids Connection.

Political career

Utah County Commission

Between 1990 and 2004, Herbert served as a commissioner on the Utah County Commission. He replaced Brent Morris in 1990. During his time as a commissioner, Herbert also served as presidents of the Utah Association of Counties and the Utah Association of Realtors. Larry Ellertson succeeded Herbert as County Commissioner.

2004 election

In November 2003, Herbert began campaigning for the Republican nomination for Governor of Utah. In April 2004, a month before the state convention at which the gubernatorial nominee would be selected, Herbert joined forces with then-rival Jon Huntsman, Jr., becoming the latter's running mate. The Huntsman-Herbert ticket defeated incumbent governor Olene S. Walker at the convention, before going on to win in the November election. Herbert subsequently became lieutenant governor.

Lieutenant Governor of Utah

Herbert's central role as lieutenant governor was running the state electoral office and managing the campaign disclosure system. His record on those responsibilities was somewhat mixed, improving standards marginally but seeing the state slip overall on nationwide rankings published by the Campaign Disclosure Project. Moreover, Herbert's office was criticized for failing to enforce campaign disclosure laws more vigorously. In 2007, Herbert oversaw the first statewide voter referendum to take place since the creation of the Lieutenant Governor's post.

During his time as lieutenant governor, Herbert also served as the chairman of numerous statewide commissions, including the Commission on Volunteers and the Commission on Civic and Character Education and the Emergency Management Administrative Council.

2008 election

Huntsman and Herbert faced little opposition during their 2008 campaign for re-election, avoiding a primary election after achieving a plurality of votes at the state Republican Party convention. The Republican ticket was re-elected to office with a record 77 percent of the vote.

Governor of Utah


Herbert became Governor of Utah on August 11, 2009, after Governor Jon Huntsman stepped down to become Ambassador to China. As the Republican gubernatorial nominee in the 2010 special election, Herbert defeated his Democratic opponent, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, 64% to 32%.


In 2012, Herbert won election to a full four-year term. He defeated his Democratic opponent, retired Major General Peter Cooke, by a margin of 69% to 28%.

Important legislation included the passage of the Utah Transfer of Public Lands Act which Herbert signed into law on 23 March 2012.


Herbert served as the vice chair for the National Governors Association from 2014 to 2015 and served as chair of the association from 2015 to 2016.


Herbert won re-election to a second full term in 2016. He defeated the Democratic nominee, entrepreneur Mike Weinholtz, 66.7% to 28.7%.

Political positions


In a 2010 statement, Herbert took partial credit for Utah's relatively quick recovery from the economic crisis which began in 2008, stating:

The best methods to foster job growth are not complex or secret, but require discipline: low taxes, limited government spending, and a focus on a business friendly environment to encourage private capital investment.


As of December 1, 2009, the Utah State Governor's website showed that Herbert listed "public and higher education" as one of four "priorities." (The other three listed priorities were "economic development", "energy security" and "infrastructure"). The Governor's site explained that Utah must improve its public education system to remain competitive and to empower its individual citizens to succeed, and the site said that "attracting and retaining the best teachers into our schools" was a way Utah could accomplish educational excellence. In his 2012 re-election bid, Herbert was endorsed by the Utah Education Association.

In March 2012, Herbert vetoed a controversial sex education bill, HB363, which would have allowed schools to stop teaching sex education entirely and would have required those that kept the lessons to teach abstinence only. In vetoing it, Herbert said "HB363 simply goes too far by constricting parental options... I cannot sign a bill that deprives parents of their choice".

LGBT rights

After Salt Lake City passed a non-discrimination ordinance which would protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination in employment and housing, a member of the Utah Legislature indicated that he would seek a statewide law to prevent cities from passing ordinances related to civil rights. Herbert has asserted that municipalities should have the right to pass rules and ordinances absent state interference. On August 27, 2009, Herbert indicated at a news conference that he did not support making sexual orientation a legally protected class, saying: "We don't have to have a rule for everybody to do the right thing. We ought to just do the right thing because it's the right thing to do and we don't have to have a law that punishes us if we don't." The gay rights advocacy group Equality Utah criticized Herbert's statements and expressed the view that he did not fully comprehend the challenges faced by gay people in Utah.

Following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Utah by a U.S. district court on December 20, 2013, Herbert's office issued the following statement: "I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah. I am working with my legal counsel and the acting Attorney General to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah". Shortly thereafter, the Attorney General's office did indeed request an emergency stay to stop further same-sex marriages from occurring in the state. After elected officials in Oregon and Pennsylvania chose not to defend same-sex marriage bans from constitutional challenge, Herbert expressed his disappointment. .....

On March 12, 2015, however, Herbert signed into law a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing in the state of Utah. Utah thus became the 19th state to pass such a law. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the law was "hailed nationwide for its attempt to balance the advancements in gay rights with the deeply held beliefs and conservative values of churches and other religious groups".

In January 2020, after a proposal in the state legislature to ban conversion therapy on minors stalled, Herbert signed an executive order banning conversion therapy on minors statewide. The order includes exceptions for religious officials, parents and grandparents.

Gun rights

Herbert is a moderate supporter of the right to bear arms, in 2010 signing state Senate Bill 11, which protects the right of Utah-based companies to manufacture firearms for sale and use within the State. However, Herbert vetoed a Constitutional Carry bill in 2013 (The bill would have allowed open or concealed carry without a permit by anyone who can legally possess a handgun.), and in a 2018 interview, he said "I don't know that there's any reason to have anything more than a seven- or nine-shot magazine. Once you get past a typical size when you go out hunting, you're probably having excess baggage you don't need."

Medicaid expansion

In February 2019, Herbert defied the result of a ballot initiative where voters voted for an expansion of Medicaid. Herbert instead supported a GOP-authored bill which implemented a restricted version of Medicaid; this version insured 60,000 fewer people than the expansion in the ballot initiative and was estimated to initially cost the state more.

Free-range parenting

Herbert supported and signed the free-range parenting bill for Utah in March 2018. After the implementation of the law, in May 2018, Utah became the first state in America to legalize free-range parenting.

Utah Inland Port

Herbert has supported the creation of a Utah Inland Port. He signed HB234, a bill which created an Inland Port Authority, and HB433, a bill to increase the extent of the port and the powers of the Port Authority. Earlier, Herbert had created an Inland Port Exploratory Committee to "drive the development" of an inland port in Utah. At the time, he stated that "despite anti-trade, isolationist rhetoric at the national level, Utah remains committed to promoting international trade."

Media appearances

Herbert had a cameo in the low budget movie Sharknado: The 4th Awakens alongside Dan Farr of Salt Lake Comic Con.

Herbert has expressed interest in the UAP phenomenon, appearing in History Channel's "The Secrets of Skinwalker Ranch."

Herbert has a surprise appearance on the small YouTube channel “Cousins Elite” doing Trick Shots.

Electoral history

Utah Governor Special Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Herbert (inc.) 412,151 64.1
Democratic Peter Corroon 205,246 31.9
Independent Farley Anderson 13,038 2.0
Libertarian Andrew McCullough 12,871 2.0
Write-in Michael William Heath 1 0.0
Utah Governor Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Herbert (inc.) 688,592 68.41
Democratic Peter Cooke 277,622 27.58
Libertarian Ken Larsen 22,611 2.25
Constitution Kirk Pearson 17,696 1.76
Write-in Dennis Owen 2 0.00
Write-in David Cannon 1 0.00
Utah Governor Republican Primary Election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Herbert (inc.) 173,805 71.77
Republican Jonathan Johnson 68,379 28.23

See also

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