Governor Herbert, Weinholtz spar in Utah TV debate

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LOGAN, Utah -- Utah Governor Gary Herbert and his Democratic challenger, Mike Weinholtz got a little testy during a statewide televised debate.

The governor touted his record and accomplishments, while Weinholtz insisted "it's not working for everyone." The two answered questions from reporters and Utah State University students on topics ranging from education funding and the suicide epidemic to medical marijuana, health care, clean air and public lands.

Herbert insisted that he has stopped cuts to education funding in recent years. Weinholtz said students were not graduating prepared for college.

Asked by FOX 13 about medical marijuana, Herbert called for research before proceeding with it.

"If science backs it up, I think we'll all get behind it," he said.

"I stand with the 71-percent of Utahns who are in favor of legalizing medical cannabis," Weinholtz said.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert (center left) shakes the hand of his Democratic challenger, Mike Weinholtz (right) at a debate at Utah State University in Logan. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Utah Governor Gary Herbert (center left) shakes the hand of his Democratic challenger, Mike Weinholtz (right) at a debate at Utah State University in Logan. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Weinholtz's wife is currently facing a federal investigation after admitting to using medical marijuana to treat arthritis pain. After the debate, he said the investigation is ongoing and could not discuss it. Herbert acknowledged his niece is benefitting from a cannabis extract legalized in Utah to help children with epilepsy.

On Medicaid expansion, the two sparred with the governor stating that his Healthy Utah plan would have covered everyone. Weinholtz said what the legislature passed was "picking winners and losers."

Asked about whether to raise the minimum wage, Weinholtz accused the governor of spending time with "fat cat corporate donors."

"I appreciate the fact that Mike has taken the opportunity in the most fertile business land in America to build his business," Herbert replied.

Asked if Utah will sue for control of federal lands, the governor said it is one possibility, but said there are other options out there. Weinholtz accused Herbert of plotting to sell public lands.

"That is a false statement," Herbert told his opponent.

On the presidential race, Weinholtz slammed Donald Trump but did not mention Hillary Clinton by name, referring to her as "the Democratic nominee." Afterward, he told reporters it was unintentional. Herbert defended his vote for Trump, declaring that a vote for Clinton is against Utah interests.

The most recent polls show Herbert with a wide-margin lead over Weinholtz. The debate is so far the only televised event between the two candidates. Governor Herbert told reporters he would not close the door on additional debates, saying it is something he would have to discuss with his campaign.