The 2020 gubernatorial field just got a little more open.
Monday morning Utah Valley University announced President Matthew Holland – a son of LDS Church Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland – has been called to be mission president for the church.
This means Matt Holland, 50, must resign his presidency and he and his wife, Paige, will likely be gone for three years – the usual term of a mission president in the field.
While Holland has not said whether he is interested in running for governor in 2020 – when Herbert’s current term ends – his name has been mentioned as a possible GOP candidate.
And UtahPolicy has been told by a number of sources that Holland’s candidacy could have an impact on who would run against him, should he get in.
If Holland leaves for his mission in June of 2018, he would not return until June 2021 – and he would miss the 2020 gubernatorial election.
How one looks upon Holland’s mission call depends on whether you are a faithful member of the Mormon Church.
A faithful member would see it as a calling from the Lord, as mission presidents’ assignments are reviewed and approved by the LDS Church’s First Presidency and managing Quorum of The Twelve Apostles – of which his father is a member.
If one is not a church member, and as a Utah political observer, it could be seen as Holland being taken out of any political consideration in 2020, and thus not available to run for governor.
Faithful Mormons do not turn down a mission call – and it is not unheard of for aspiring mission presidents to let it be known to church leaders than they would welcome such a call.
It is not known if Matt Holland did so, but he has been UVU president for nearly a decade, and in recent years Utah public university presidents stay on around that time frame before leaving.
While Holland may have been considered by GOP insiders as a very attractive candidate in 2020, the Republican field certainly would have still contained some heavy hitters – the likes of House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper; Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox; Attorney General Sean Reyes; Josh Romney, son of Mitt Romney; among others.
None of the above have, of course, announced their intentions – it is too early for that.
But an open governor’s seat comes around only every eight or 12 years in Utah, and always draws a lot of attention.
At age 50, Holland is young enough to consider some kind of public service down the road.
The Republicans hold the key in the governor’s race – Utah has not elected a Democrat as governor since the late Gov. Scott M. Matheson won re-election in 1980.
KSL-TV reports that Holland would serve as UVU president through June 2018 and leave for his mission a month later.
Holland’s name was floated by some GOP insiders as a possible replacement when GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz resigned his U.S. House seat earlier this year.
Holland did not get in the 3rd Congressional District special election race.
But a UtahPolicy.com poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates found Holland placed second in the possible candidates earlier this year.
In Tuesday’s election to fill the open seat, Provo Mayor John Curtis, the GOP nominee, is considered a shoe-in.
Now with Holland clearly out of the governor’s race in 2020 some possible GOP candidates who may not have wanted to run with his name in the mix may consider a campaign.