U’s Jowers eyes run for governor

By Michael McFall, News Editor

Kirk Jowers, director of the U’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, is seriously considering running for governor of Utah in 2010.

Utah’s media outlets often brought up Jowers, a Republican, as a contender to replace former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. in the wake of his nomination for ambassador to China in May. Although Jowers previously declined to comment about a possible bid for the highest position in Utah’s government, he now says he’s seriously considering campaigning for the May 2010 election, but it’s not going to be easy.

“Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert has spent most of the last six years running for governor,” Jowers said. To come out as the Republican candidate from the convention, a candidate’s chances are more or less related to how well he or she gets to know the delegates. Running for governor can be a lot more like selling life insurance than playing politics, he said.

“You need to get to know their names, their issues, their kids and even their pets,” he said. Herbert has had a political career to accomplish that. Jowers would have nine months if he made his official announcement Sept. 1.

Herbert begins his temporary stint as interim governor in mid-August. In Utah, if a governor resigns or dies, the lieutenant governor temporarily assumes his position, but there’s an election the following year to see who serves the remainder of the four-year term. Those last two years are up for grabs, and Jowers seems to be the only heavyweight intending to rob Herbert of his ambitions.

Lane Beattie, president of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and a Republican, had previously told The Salt Lake Tribune that he intended to run for governor in early July. He backed out of the prospect a month later.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, announced July 29 that he would not be a member of the rat race, leaving Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, who said he’s weighing his options, as the only person emerging as a strong contender from the Democratic Party.

Jowers said that Assistant Director Jayne Nelson could easily step up as interim director of the Hinckley Institute during Jowers’ campaign to become Utah’s 17th governor.

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