Rob Bishop won’t run for governor in 2020, endorses Thomas Wright

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Retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, announced Monday that he will not run for governor this year.

He made the statement on KSL Radio.

He said he really wasn’t ready to leave the U.S. House, but leaves to let others build up the seniority needed to take a leadership role there.

Bishop, 68, has around $300,000 in his congressional account, and he can give it to a charity, or to another candidate’s state campaign. He cannot give it to himself. He will leave the House next January.

Bishop said he endorses former Utah GOP chairman Thomas Wright.

Wright announced his gubernatorial campaign just a few weeks ago.

The endorsement may help Wright inside the state Republican Convention — Bishop is popular with the party’s right-wing and delegates.

But it probably won’t mean much if Thomas, who is collecting signatures and going to the convention, gets on the late-June closed GOP primary election. Rank-and-file GOP primary voters are more moderate and Bishop’s 1st District includes only one-fourth of the state’s population.

Bishop is retiring from the U.S. House after serving in the 1st District since 2003. He was chair of the body’s Natural Resources Committee for several years before Democrats took control in the 2018 election.

Bishop was also a long-time member of the Utah House, serving as speaker.

He is a retired history teacher, and one of the less-wealthy members of the U.S. House, so couldn’t have funded his gubernatorial campaign with private money.

Bishop’s decision not to run likely helps all of the current “Big Six” candidates, as they don’t have another relatively-well-known Republican to battle.

Those include former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, tech-millionaire Jeff Burningham, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton, and former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes.

But since Bishop would have done well in the party delegate convention, Hughes is likely the most to gain from Bishop staying out of the crowded race.

Hughes told last week that he will only go to the convention, and won’t be collecting signatures, giving his convention chances a big shot with Bishop out of that internal GOP contest.

The other candidates are collecting 28,000 signatures of GOP registered voters, and don’t have to finish one or two in the convention to make the primary ballot if they can get the needed signatures.

Bishop said he hopes to teach in some way or form after he leaves office next year.