High-Profile Prospect Opts Out of Utah Gov Race

Posted August 18, 2009 at 11:56am

Kirk Jowers, a prominent Utah political scientist, will not seek the Republican nomination in next year’s special election for governor. His decision provides a clearer path for newly installed GOP Gov. Gary R. Herbert, who took office after his predecessor, Republican Jon Huntsman Jr., received U.S. Senate confirmation as the nation’s new ambassador to China last week.

Jowers is familiar to many Utah voters as the oft-quoted director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, which might have made him a formidable contender. But he opted not to join the special election contest, which is required under state law because Huntsman — who won a second term in 2008 — resigned within the first year after winning re-election.

Jowers, who made his intentions public in Utah on Monday, told CQ Politics that he reached his decision last week and informed Herbert. Though he said he had lined up support from some state legislators and was confident he could have raised the big money (between $6 million and $8 million, he estimated) to seriously compete, Jowers said he stepped aside because of the demands a campaign would have placed on his family and his satisfaction with how Herbert has handled the gubernatorial transition.