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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon kicked off his gubernatorial bid with a speech Tuesday morning, formally announcing his candidacy for Utah governor.
The moderate Democrat is hoping to unseat Republican Gov. Gary Herbert. Herbert took office in August after Jon Huntsman resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China.
Corroon made his announcement at several places across the state Tuesday, starting at Salt Lake Community College.
In his speech, Corroon says he is less about party politics and more about doing things differently. As a Democrat, heknows he is a long shot and knows he's not going to win if he takes a hard left stand on the race. Instead, he says he wants be an Independent voice in Utah -- a normal guy, not a politician. And that had appeal for people at his rally.
Anna Thompson, a volunteer for the campaign, said, "Peter, he's a moderate. He speaks to a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds, and I'm really optimistic about this campaign."
Other supporters are equally optimistic. "He's not only proven that he has leadership qualities, high principals and the ability to execute his plan, but I believe he operates from a position of integrity," said Andrew Pratt, a supporter who was at the rally.
Thompson also thinks Corroon has a chance because of his experience at Salt Lake County. "I think he's shown in balancing the interests in Salt Lake County -- because it's a really big, complicated county -- that he can speak to both sides of the aisle," she said. "And he's been a really good consensus builder."
Corroon's speech focused on the economy, the environment and education, talking about finding stable, high-paying jobs and paying attention to local business owners. He announced he will protect Utah's water supply and stop out-of-state radioactive waste.
Corroon also hit education hard, critical of budget cuts at a time when enrollment is increasing every year. He said, "Class sizes are increasing, and Utah students are falling behind. If this has been priority No. 1, I'd hate to see how we've done on numbers two and three."
After his speech, Corroon embarked on a two-day tour of the state.
Corroon and his campaign staff have secured more than $300,000 in campaign funds. But that's less than half of his opponent's funds. According to financial disclosure reports submitted Monday, Herbert has more than $800,000 on hand. But Corroon and his staff say they are optimistic because it's still early in the campaign.
Herbert's campaign say they welcome Corroon to the race. The Governor himself is taking time to deal with the recent death of his father.
Tuesday, Utah Congressman Jim Matheson voiced his support of Corroon. In a statement, Matheson said, "Peter shares my approach of putting Utahns first—before politics or partisanship. He is all about being fiscally responsible with taxpayers' money and balancing the budget." [CLICK HERE to read the entire statement]
Last week, Corroon spoke to KSL about his bid for the governor's office. Click here for more on that story.
Story compiled with contributions from Richard Piatt and the Associated Press.