SALT LAKE CITY -- If freshman lawmaker Spencer Cox is confirmed as Utah's new lieutenant governor, the state Republican Party would have 30 days to hold a special election to fill his central Utah legislative seat, a party official said Wednesday.
Cox, a 38-year-old Republican from Fairview, has been tapped by Gov. Gary Herbert to replace Greg Bell, who announced in September that he was resigning to return to the private sector and save money for retirement.
The Utah Senate must confirm Cox's appointment.
A Senate confirmation committee has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, and if Cox is approved, the full Senate would hold a confirmation vote the following day.
If Cox is confirmed and officially resigns from his seat in the Legislature, the Utah Republican Party would then have a month to schedule a special election to seat his replacement, the party's executive director Jeff Peterson said.
Votes in the election would be cast by GOP delegates in Cox's district, which covers Sanpete and Juab counties.
Peterson said there are about 50 delegates in the district.
Cox, who just completed his first term as a House member, is also a telecommunications executive and former mayor and City Council member in Fairview, a small town in central Utah.
He's also a former Sanpete County commissioner and an attorney.
If confirmed, Cox would be Utah's eighth lieutenant governor and the second appointed by Herbert.
Herbert picked Bell for the role in 2009 when Herbert, serving as lieutenant governor, became the state's top executive after then-Gov. Jon Huntsman resigned to serve as U.S. ambassador to China.
Bell currently co-chairs the Governor's Rural Partnership Board with Cox, whom he called talented and "a terrific choice" for lieutenant governor.
Patrick Painter, a Nephi car dealer and former state House Representative, said he is definitely planning to seek Cox's seat.
Painter represented the area in the Legislature before he unsuccessfully challenged state Sen. Ralph Okerlund last year.
"I think it will be a great honor to represent them again," Painter said.
Former Sanpete County GOP Chair Steven Clark said he didn't know yet who might run to fill Cox's seat but noted "there's a number of names that are being kind of batted around."
Clark, who stepped down from his party role in May, said there isn't one obvious choice who has been waiting in the wings for an open seat.
"I'm sure we'll have no dearth of candidates for it though," Clark said, "Ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime."