Field of potential candidates taking shape for 2010 election

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman now waits for the Senate to confirm his nomination as U.S. Ambassador to China. Saturday, President Barack Obama announced he's nominating Huntsman to the post.

During a Monday afternoon press conference, Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert said he is ready to step in as Utah's new governor.

Utah's only other former lieutenant governor-turned-governor, Olene Walker, advises Herbert "to do those things to make certain that we have a strong state 10 years from now, 100 years from now."

Potential 2012 Republican gubernatorial candidates

Herbert will serve until a special election in 2010. A large list of potential contenders is already taking shape for that race. Herbert, himself, is considered by pundits to be a frontrunner because he will be the incumbent.

"You will have the power of name recognition, and he will have been doing the job for at least a year, so it will come down to how the voters view his job performance," said Tim Chambless, University of Utah political science professor.

Experts also say Attorney General Mark Shurtleff could be a strong challenger if he reverses direction and does not challenge incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett.

"Chances are that will be a direction where he will not change his mind, but he may," Chambless said.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports other possible leading Republican candidates include:

  • Fred Lampropoulos, a 2004 hopeful
  • Utah House Speaker Dave Clark
  • State Senator John Valentine (who has already formed a campaign organization)
  • Salt Lake Chamber President Lane Beattie
  • Zions Bank President Scott Anderson
  • Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah

Meanwhile, on Monday's The Doug Wright Show, Doug got to the point with Sen. John Valentine and House Speaker David Clark. When he asked Clark if he would consider being Lt. Governor, Clark replied, "I think that's a little jump ahead of where we are today."

When posed with the same question, Valentine laughed and said, "It hasn't been offered, I'll tell you that much."

However, Valentine said he was getting ready for a run for governor in 2012. Now he wants to see how Herbert does as governor.

Potential 2012 Democratic gubernatorial candidates

Democrats are also looking at this as a chance to get into the governor's mansion. Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon wouldn't say if a run for governor is in the cards for him, but he acknowledges anything can happen.

"We'll see where it all shakes out," he told Doug Wright. "I'll never say never, but [I] just hadn't thought about it."

The mayor is one of a handful of names already on a short-list of Democrats the pundits say have a decent chance of becoming Utah's next non-Republican governor.

Also on the list: State Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones, though she says it's not her plan to run either.

"I'm planning to run for the State Senate for re-election," she told Doug. But she added, "I think that you just are foolish to ever say you're never do anything."

Chambless says Congressman Jim Matheson would also be a formidable Democratic opponent, and one who would thicken the plot by running because of the vacancy it would create in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Chambless says Matheson would be a strong candidate because he's proven his ability to win, even in Utah's more conservative, rural counties.

Other names on his "short list" are Karen Shepherd and Patrice Agent.

Regardless of which Democrat chooses to take up the challenge in 2010, Chambless says he or she may have an advantage in facing a somewhat divided Republican party.

Possible choices Herbert has for lieutenant governor

Before an election is held to choose a new governor, Herbert must select a new lieutenant governor. Chambless says during that process, Utahns can expect to see several challengers.

Kirk Jowers and Lane Beattie are being mentioned as possible picks, but they both say running would have to be worth leaving their jobs.

"In that role I probably would not, though I'm not making any announcement," Beattie said.

He added, "There are some incredible candidates. I've thought about it, if I were to run, who would I pick."

Jowers said, "I have the best job in Utah, so that's a tough one to answer. I haven't been asked."

When asked if a run for public office is in his future, Jowers said, "I would have to say yes. Our whole motto here is participate."


Story compiled with contributions from Andrew Adams, Mary Richards and Becky Bruce.

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