On October 18th, 2010, Republican candidate Morgan Philpot was 26 points down in his race against Utah 2nd District Congressman Jim Matheson. Launching a Tim Tebow-type fourth quarter drive, he finished just five points in arrears of Matheson on election day in November 2nd.
So he's back again, this time challenging incumbent Governor Gary Herbert for the Republican nomination. Although Morgan Philpot respects Herbert and considers him a friend, he says they have different views on what the condition of America and Utah is and what needs to happen during the next four years. Earlier, Philpot accused the governor of pressuring lawmakers to ensure the state's new congressional boundaries would deter Jim Matheson from getting into the governor's race. Philpot also believes if Jim Matheson runs for governor, he is the Republican best equipped to defeat him. Previous polls indicate a Matheson-Herbert race could be a nailbiter.
At his press conference on December 1st, Philpot was feeling combative -- primarily towards the federal government. He pledged to oppose Obamacare, and said Utah needs a leader willing stand up to the federal government, even if that means pushing the bounds of what's legal. "Am I going to go to jail if I do? I mean, if that's what it's going to take, does the federal government need to come down and throw some handcuffs on the governor of Utah," he said to the applause of supporters gathered at the Capitol. KSL news video embedded below:
But Philpot's not the only Republican challenger; also in the race is Utah State Rep. Ken Sumsion (R-American Fork). Sumsion, a co-founder of the Patrick Henry Caucus, says his number one priority as Governor will be to fund education by gaining access to the trillions of dollars worth of oil and minerals buried beneath Utah's public lands. He also wants to simplify education funding to provide greater local control, and create a more business-friendly environment by reducing the burden of over-regulation on small businesses. He anticipates that will encourage entrepreneurs to create more jobs. Sumsion also attended Philpot's press conference, but took a more restrained approach, saying that any action Utah takes to defy the federal government must be done through the courts with the support of other states. "If Utah is the only one that does it, we're going to get squished like a bug," Sumsion said.
Sumsion welcomed Philpot's candidacy, saying "I think we'll be friends even at the end of this process...We each bring some different talents to it and some different issues as well." Likewise, Philpot paid tribute to Sumsion, saying "He's a really good man, a good legislator. He'll be a good candidate for governor". And as for Gary Herbert, his campaign spokesman, Ben Horsley, said "Gov. Herbert is both pleased and proud of what has been accomplished in Utah under his leadership, and is confident that the voters of Utah will continue to support his diligent efforts to lead Utah through these uniquely challenging and turbulent times." Boilerplate.
This is a tough decision for a Republican. All three of these men bring noticeable strengths to the table. I suppose it'll boil down to whether or not one has any major dissatisfaction with Gary Herbert. Herbert has done nothing to piss me off. He seems to be a captain who can steer the ship of state straight and true. And the word is that he's a regular guy who doesn't put on any airs. The state of Utah has weathered the recession better than most other states during his stewardship.