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For week ended December 05, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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Utah Governor Braces for Fight

Summarized by Eric Bunker

Utah Governor Braces for Fight
New York Times 5Dec99 D2
By B. Drummond Ayres Jr.

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- A GOP civil war is threatening to break out in Utah over whether to give the very popular incumbent Gov. Mike Leavitt a third term next year.

In his last race in 1996, Gov. Leavitt captured 75 percent of the vote and his job approval ratings have remained high since, which has helped garner him a high national profile. At the most recent National Governors Association, his peers recently elected him their chairman, and there has been some speculation that he could be included apart of a George W. Bush administration should that candidate win the presidency next year.

Never the less, as a Republican centrist, the governor has his detractors, especially on the Republican right in the Utah State House of Representatives, who are looking for another nominee for Election 2000.

It is their contention that over the last seven years Leavitt has concentrated more on his governing style than on substance. And when real substance has come up, he has come down on the wrong side. The opposition cites his support for gun controls and expansion of wilderness areas; both are a political anathema to many Utah conservatives.

However, the governor has high poll numbers heading into the up coming race and his campaign has raised more than $775,000. Mike Leavitt, a lifelong active Mormon from the Southern Utah/Eastern Nevada area, says the prospect of a good political fight "gets my juices flowing."

"I don't think I've ever been stronger politically," he told reporters a few days ago. "I'm prepared."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information