Speaker Stephens Quits Job to Focus on Run for Gov.

Speaker Stephens Quits Job to Focus on Run for Gov.

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah House Speaker Marty Stephens has resigned as a vice president at Zions Bank to devote his full attention to his 2004 gubernatorial run.

"I'm running for governor and I want to be able to do that full-time," Stephens said Friday. He also is just a few weeks away from plunging into the annual legislative session, which begins Jan. 19.

Stephens, R-Farr West, worked for Zions Bank for 14 1/2 years. He oversaw the company's disaster recovery program in Utah and Idaho for the past several years.

Stephens' resignation could help separate him from the contentious bank-credit union feud that roiled Utah politics. Stephens has said he "wouldn't be surprised" if credit unions take an active role in the governor's race.

Last year, credit unions poured more than $120,000 into the Republican primary campaign of Rob Bishop in the 1st Congressional District. Bishop's primary victory knocked out former House Majority Leader Kevin Garn, a bank board chairman and on of Stephens' allies.

Gov. Olene Walker, who ascended to her office when former Gov. Mike Leavitt accepted a Bush administration request that he head the federal Environmental Protection Agency, has not said whether she will run for a full term.

Other Republicans who have indicated they would run include former U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen, former U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr., Board of Regents Chairman Nolan Karras, Merit Medical chief executive Fred Lampropoulos, Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert and state Sen. Parley Hellewell.

University of Utah law school dean Scott Matheson Jr. is the only known Democratic candidate for governor.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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