SALT LAKE CITY — Republican candidate for governor Jeff Burningham picked state Sen. Dan McCay as his running mate Wednesday.

“Utah wants a lieutenant governor who will be a public servant for the people of Utah, someone who understands the legislative process and can help pass an agenda that gets Utah back on track,” the Provo businessman said of choosing McCay, a Riverton Republican who has served in the Utah Legislature since 2013.

Burningham said McCay, who won’t be up for reelection to his legislative seat until 2022, “has consistently been ranked one of the most conservative legislators in Utah during his time in the Utah House and Senate” and described the new ticket as “the conservative team for Utah.”

McCay said he’s “been impressed by Jeff’s leadership and his ideas to take Utah to the next level. Utah needs a CEO right now, Jeff Burningham is that CEO. He has the business experience to get Utah’s economy growing again, without sacrificing our way of life.”

Burningham told the Deseret News he has been meeting with potential lieutenant governor candidates since January.

What gave McCay the advantage, Burningham said, “is he had the moxie and guts to step into an unknown situation and to fight for the conservative values that we believe in, in the state of Utah. He was excited over the vision I was laying out over the last several months.”

Other possible picks “kind of hesitated and were kind of weighing political costs or what the coronavirus may mean for the race,” Burningham said, but McCay was ready to go. “He said, “Jeff, I believe in you. I believe in the cause. Let’s do it.’”

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Burningham, who was scheduled to make the announcement at a virtual cottage meeting of Republican Party delegates Wednesday evening, is the latest of the seven GOP candidates for governor to name his choice for lieutenant governor.

Former GOP Chairman Thomas Wright was the first, tapping retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop in January. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. chose Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi as his running mate in February. Last month, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox picked state Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, for his ticket. Jan Garbett chose a doctor, Joe Jarvis. And Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton selected state Auditor John Dougall.

Only former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes has not yet selected a lieutenant governor.

Republican Party delegates will advance up to two candidates to the state’s June primary ballot at their virtual convention later this month. So far, two candidates, Wright and Cox, have already qualified for the ballot by submitting voter signatures.

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