After that, says Lockhart, “I will keep all my options open. I would like to stay involved” in Utah politics and public service “in some way.”
Speculation has already arisen that Lockhart, R-Provo, Utah’s first female speaker, may run for governor in 2016.
She wouldn’t herself speculate on that, but said, “It is incredibly flattering to be mentioned like that, and a compliment and an honor.”
“Again, I will keep my options open,” she added.
It is rare, but not unheard of, for a House speaker or a Senate president to step down from those top jobs and remain in their respective bodies.
Most often, the top leader retires out of his leadership post, as Lockhart says she will do if she is lucky enough to win another two-year term as speaker after the November general election.
However, sometimes the ex-leader stays in his district office because of an unexpected loss in their leadership re-election.
For example, former House Speaker David Clark, R-Santa Clara, was unseated as speaker by Lockhart following the 2010 general elections. Clark remained in the House before resigning his seat last year to run for the redrawn 2nd Congressional District.
Former House Speaker Mel Brown, R-Kamas, stepped out of a speakership re-election race the day of that vote back in the 1990s, but Brown remained in the House for a while. Brown has since returned, elected from a different district. Brown currently is the House budget chairman.
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, was defeated eight years ago in his presidential leadership re-election race, but has remained in the Senate and seeks another four-year term this November.
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, currently the longest serving Utah lawmaker, was also defeated in a presidential re-election and still remains in the Senate.
But more often than not, a speaker or president leaves their bodies after they step out of their top office job.
President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, for example, is retiring from the Senate this year.
Lockhart’s current situation has stirred speculation of a run for higher office, in part because she decided not to use her PAC funds to aid in her current speakership race.
UtahPolicy has been told by several GOP insiders that Lockhart is looking at a gubernatorial race in 2016.
It has been common practice for legislators seeking a leadership post to raise more money than they need in their own district re-elections and then give some of that money to incumbent colleagues seeking re-election and/or their party candidates to their legislative houses.
Clark, for example, one year he was running for a top majority party leadership post, donated more than $35,000 to colleagues.
While Lockhart is not doing that (saying she believes it a poor practice and a conflict of interest), she continues to keep her PAC, the Speaker’s Victory Fund, active.
In 2011 her PAC raised $90,000.
Just two weeks ago Lockhart held a “meet and greet” PAC fundraiser at the University of Utah stadium where, she said, she believes she will come out with between $30,000 and $40,000.
If she is elected speaker again – and her re-election at present seems assured – she could likely raise $200,000 over the next two years. Her PAC has just $24,000 in cash today, records show, but will be updated with her latest fund raising when the next report comes due.
"What's the point in having a speaker's victory fund if you aren't going to help other Republicans get elected, and you aren't running for any other office again?" asks one House Republican UtahPolicy spoke to on condition the representative's name not be used.
With only token opposition in her District 64 re-election this November, Lockhart in her personal campaign account, separate from her PAC, has raised $75,000 and has $44,000 in cash on hand.
She faces Democrat Boyd Jay Petersen in a district that hasn’t elected a Democrat in recent memory.
“I’m taking nothing for granted,” said Lockhart, about either her speakership election or her District 64 race.
“I’m working hard in both races, nothing is a given,” Lockhart said.
Ever since former state House speaker and Gov. Norm Bangerter ran successfully in 1984 from his legislative post to the top executive office, several sitting legislative leaders have also sought that route to higher office.
But all have failed.
Three-time House Speaker Marty Stephens ran for governor from his top House job in 2004, starting that race with a hefty war chest raised through his leadership post. But he couldn’t make it out of the state GOP convention.
Clark anticipated winning his 2010 speakership re-election, and then run for Congress in 2012 from that strongpoint. But he lost his speaker’s race, then lost his 2nd District race in party convention this spring.
Other examples can be found.
UtahPolicy is told Lockhart may well seek to avoid such a possible pitfall by leaving the House at the end of 2014.
First, it is difficult to win a third term as speaker, should she have sought one in 2014.
Second, to run for governor right out of legislative leadership means you have to own the current condition of state government and legislative politics, at least over the last two years you helped managed them as speaker.
Lockhart has, at times, been a slight critic of state spending over the last several years.
In her address to the 2012 GOP convention, Lockhart said that the state can’t continue spending like it has.
As Utah’s economy rebounded, the state budget has grown considerably from its Great Recession levels.
For example, the budget has gone from $11 billion to $13 billion over several years.
Yes, much of that is catch-up from years when state programs were severely trimmed because of dropping revenue.
But this past year the state, besides its budget growth, brought in nearly $100 million in surplus tax revenues.
It would be easier for Lockhart to run for governor as a fiscal conservative, with great experience in state government, if she wasn’t part of putting together the likely growing 2015 and 2016 state budgets.
Other former House speakers who have gone on to higher office, like former U.S. Rep. Howard Nielson and current U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah. But they won their higher offices after being out of the Utah House for a period of time.
“There’s a feeling,” said one current Utah House Republican, “that you are better off being out of the Legislature for a few years before you run for a higher office.
“That way anything bad that happened in the recent legislatures you aren’t blamed for and can say you didn’t have any part of.”