Republican Gov. Gary Herbert told UtahPolicy on Thursday that he’s leaning toward running for re-election in 2016 and will make known his decision – run or not – this summer, moving the announcement up by six months.
Herbert said he’s tired of being asked if he will run again, since he’s only a little more than one year into his first, full four-year term.
“But I understand people are curious.”
Herbert said his way to the governor’s office was “an improbable path” – he was picked as former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s lieutenant governor, then stepped up when Huntsman, just after starting his second term, resigned to become ambassador to China.
Herbert then had to run for governor to serve out Huntsman’s final two years, and then run for re-election to his own full, four-year term in 2012.
Should Herbert run and win again, he would be only the third man to win the Utah governorship three times – even though he would serve two fewer years in the office.
“Personal ambition knows no bounds,” Herbert said in a special edition of “Bernick and Schott On Politics,” a video podcast series on this site – reflecting on why he is being besieged by reporters and the general public over his future political plans.
And he understands that some people (he mentioned no names) “are looking to find their path to higher office.”
One, clearly, is retiring House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo – who criticized Herbert in her 2014 legislative House address, thus setting a political tone this session.
Herbert said he has no desire for higher office (U.S. Senate?) – that being Utah governor is about the best political office in the land.
“There is no better job, and I understand why” others are looking at it, said Herbert.
He said he’d rather just govern the state, and not think about all the politics of re-election.
He takes pride in how successful Utah has become among the states, and believes his process of thoughtful, conservative problem-solving, and listening to anyone and reasoning with them, has something to do with it.
Herbert has said for some time that he would announce his plans by the end of 2014.
But clearly, by moving up his decision to summer, he is reacting to Lockhart’s and other’s chomping at the 2016 gubernatorial bit.
“The raising of money, being in the right position, all those things you need to think about.”
Herbert said he loves the job.
“I’m clearly leaning towards running” again in 2016.
“But this is not just my decision” – he must talk with his wife, family and key supporters, Herbert said.