Monday, June 1, 2009

Josh Romney Being Billed As Utah's Next Lieutenant Governor Once Gary Herbert Moves Up To The Top Slot

On June 1st, 2009, the Deseret News reports that while Josh Romney (pictured at left, courtesy KTUU Channel 2 in Anchorage), the only one of Mitt Romney's five sons to become a resident of Utah, does not intend to run for governor in 2010, he would not rule out accepting an offer by soon-to-be Governor Gary Herbert to accept the number two position if asked.

"It's definitely not something I'm actively campaigning for. If it were offered to me, I would give it serious consideration.", said Romney. The 33-year-old Romney also explained that he and Herbert have already talked several times since Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. announced he would step down once the U.S. Senate confirms his appointment as ambassador to China, but added that the subject of becoming lieutenant governor was not broached during the discussions.

Gary Herbert is in Washington, D.C. this week, attending a U.S. Election Assistance Commission board meeting. He expects to begin interviewing candidates over the next few weeks and announce his choice after Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. leaves office. Huntsman's departure won't be immediate, since the U.S. Senate has yet to schedule his confirmation hearing as ambassador to China. This is not the first time that Romney's name has come up; he was included on a Deseret News short list published May 24th. Now KSL Channel 5 has picked up the story.

But other names publicly floated for the number two post include Utah House Speaker David Clark, Utah Senate President Michael Waddoups, State Senator Greg Bell, and Salt Lake County Councilman Michael Jensen. Clark and Waddoups officially profess no interest in the job. Salt Lake Chamber CEO/President Lane Beattie is often mentioned because he is considered to be Herbert's most formidable prospective opponent for governor in 2010. Eleven additional names are mentioned on the Deseret News short list, but anyone from Utah County is likely to be excluded, since Herbert is also from Utah County.

While Josh Romney has never served in elective office, he does have campaign experience, having traveled as far as Alaska to push his father's Presidential campaign in 2008, after deciding not to challenge Rep. Jim Matheson for his U.S. House seat. Romney believes his experience campaigning for his father helps qualify him for Utah's number two spot, although Salt Lake Crawlmeister Glen Warchol prefers to emphasize the fact that Romney comes from a bloodline of two failed Presidential candidates.

The selection of Josh Romney would be intriguing, since he carries no political baggage of his own, and would provide Gary Herbert with access to Romney money for his 2010 election campaign. Look for him to be on Herbert's own short list, along with at least one current state legislator, since Herbert is also probably interested in someone who knows the legislature first hand and who has some contacts there. The person selected would have to be a bit more moderate than Herbert.

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