Republican gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson on Monday picked charter school principal Robyn Bagley as his lieutenant governor running mate.
The choice brings back the old team of pro-vouchers folks from 2007.
Bagley, 54, got to know Johnson when the current Overstock.com executive worked on the pro-private school voucher campaigns of that time.
She is currently the chair of the board of Parents for Choice in Education, the pro-voucher PIC/advocacy group that is still around and lobbies for various education issues before the Legislature.
You can read more about Bagley here.
Johnson said she balances out areas where he may be a bit short, like public education.
And while she brings gender balance to his ticket, Bagley is also outside of Salt Lake County and could bring some geographic balance as well.
It was evident from last week’s GOP gubernatorial debate that Johnson would have to become tougher on two-term Republican Gov. Gary Herbert if Johnson hopes to defeat the popular Herbert.
And it is often the case in presidential and gubernatorial campaigns that it falls upon the running mate to really take out after the other guy.
Bagley didn’t disappoint Monday in a press conference to announce her in the Capitol.
Bagley lambasted Herbert in a prepared statement, saying, among other things, that Herbert is just a weak manager, not an innovator or real leader.
“Can you trust Herbert not to raise taxes?” she asked.
Will Herbert lead Utah to better education?
“And can Utah do better” in running the state? She said.
Yes, if Republicans and general election voters pick the Johnson-Bagley ticket, she answered.
In introducing Bagley, Johnson said he chose a person that would tell him the truth and give him solid advice, an individual who is not really running for higher office herself.
Bagley will leave office when Johnson does, the challenger told reporters.
She won’t be a full-time, or long-term officeholder, he added – clearly hinting at Herbert’s running mate Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who likely has eyes on a higher prize some day.
Answering questions Bagley said she has been and continues to be a supporter of the private-school voucher program that was such a battle a decade ago in the Legislature.
Conservative GOP lawmakers finally got the voucher bill passed in 2007, but immediately the teacher-backed opposition got the new law on the November ballot and citizens repealed it after a loud and hard fight – withOverstock.com executives doing much of the pro-voucher funding in the public campaign.
After Bagley said she’s still for vouchers, Johnson took over the microphone to clarify: His education plan would allow parents to put aside in a special account controlled by them some of the monies they would have paid in public education taxes, and from that personal fund they could spend the money educating their children as they see fit – in a charter school, or a private school, or even home teaching of their kids.
You can read Johnson’s education plan here. It’s a plan, he added, that is not vouchers, but a parent’s choice program – “Much like Arizona has.”
Bagley said another four years of Herbert “means tax increases” for Utahns.
She said while Herbert has cut some taxes in the past, almost all of those taxes went to well-to-do corporations, not regular citizens.
Herbert “signed us up for Common Core,” and “looks to Washington, D.C.” for answers to Utah’s problems, she said.
Bagley helped found and is now the principal of, Early College High School, Career Path High – a Davis County-based charter high school that works with students so that upon graduation the student also has a certified technical skill, like welding or being a machinist.
Jobs that Utah businesses need, but are having a hard time fulfilling, she added.
Bagley said as a young wife and mother she stayed home – and was proud to be a homemaker. But as her children grew, she found time for outside activities – early on as a volunteer, later as a professional woman education executive.
“Herbert has been a manager,” she said. “We will be leaders.”
Both Democratic challengers named their running mates on Monday as well.
Vaughn Cook tapped Jan Garbett, the wife of developer and former Republican State Representative Bryson Garbett as his Lt. Governor. Garbett is also the founder of the anti-pornography group Women for Decency. Garbett was a registered Republican until just hours before Cook announced her selection.
Mike Weinholtz named Kim Bowman to the number two spot on his ticket. Bowman was set to face Catherine Kanter in a primary for Salt Lake County Council after nearly defeating her at the Salt Lake County Convention.