Menlove, who is Senior Vice Provost at Utah State University, confirmed Tuesday that she will step down from the leadership post at the end of this year.
All House and Senate Republican and Democratic leadership posts are up for election after the November general election; those elections usually held within days of the Nov. 6 tally.
There will be a new Senate president, as President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, is retiring from the Legislature.
House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, has already announced that she will see another two-year term in that top post.
It has been rumored for some time that House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, may challenge Lockhart.
But UtahPolicy is told that Dee is apparently stepping away from such a challenge and is likely to run for majority leader again.
House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, was reportedly looking at running for speaker if Dee didn’t. But UtahPolicy is told that he’s likely to seek his current leadership position again, as well.
Other Republican representatives could still challenge Lockhart, Dee and Hughes.
While technically a legislator seeking a leadership post is supposed to formally announce for such an office, historically some lawmakers quietly run for the a post but don’t announce formally, then get out of a race if it doesn’t look like they can win.
Others do announce and go public with their challenges.
UtahPolicy is told that Reps. Don Ipson, R-St. George, and Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, are looking at the assistant majority whip post Menlove is leaving.
Others could join that race as well.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City; and Senate Majority Whip Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy; are both looking at running for Senate president later this year.
If that happens, then there would be a stampede among GOP senators to fill those two vacant leadership posts.
(Both in the House and Senate, if a current leader runs for another leadership post, he is not eligible to run for his current post again should he lose his race to step up.)
Menlove said she originally ran for the Utah House to serve her northern Utah constituents. And while she loves serving in leadership, “when you do so you then have a different constituency” – meaning you are representing your party caucus as well as the folks who elect you to office in the first place.
“I want to get back to serving my (home) constituents more. With my (university) job there are just too many conflicts on my time; something had to give,” she said.
Menlove is seen as a moderate Republican, a dying breed in the Utah House.
Her husband, Martell, is also an assistant superintendent in the State Board of Education.
Thus, the Menloves are very pro higher and public education. And in the conservative halls of the GOP-controlled Legislature that can also become politically challenging.
The way top House Republicans run for leadership posts is also being changed this year by Lockhart.
In the past, GOP leaders have used both their own personal campaign accounts and/or the official House GOP re-election PAC to further their leadership bids.
For example, a recent House Speaker (now out of office) donated upwards of $50,000 from his own campaign account to either incumbent House Republicans seeking re-election or to GOP challengers to open seats or against Democrats.
The theory is if one helps get a fellow GOP lawmaker elected, he or she in turn will support you in your leadership bid.
But Lockhart announced earlier this year to UtahPolicy that she will not be spending any of her personal PAC money on House GOP races.
In addition, Lockhart has asked two retiring House members – Reps. Todd Kiser, R-Sandy, and Merlynn Newbold, R-South Jordan, to oversee distribution of House GOP PAC funds, along with a few other House Republicans who are leaving office.
Retiring legislators don’t vote on new leadership teams.
Kiser told UtahPolicy that he wants to give the money to those incumbents and challengers who have this year and in the past helped raise the funds.
In mid-September House GOP incumbents will hold their annual PAC golf tournament/BBQ fundraiser where special interest groups and lobbyists pay cash to rub shoulders with the majority House lawmakers.
Lockhart and Kiser hope to have $100,000 available to dole out to GOP House candidates the final two months of the campaign season.
Vulnerable GOP incumbents and weak Democrats will be targeted races, leaders said.
“I will have nothing to do with who gets money,” Lockhart has told UtahPolicy, and thus neither she nor any other current House GOP leaders can be charged with trying to aim funds to folks who may vote for them in leadership races.
Kiser said who supports whom in upcoming leadership races “will not play” in who gets House GOP PAC funds.
Kiser said he may or may not know whom the GOP House candidates support in upcoming races, but even if he does it won’t mean anything to him.
“Not a factor,” he told UtahPolicy several weeks ago.