Salt Lake County mayor eyeing governor's office

AP News
Posted: Jan 05, 2010 5:40 PM

In a State of the County Address that appeared to reflect his desire to become governor, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon on Tuesday highlighted his vision for Utah's largest county and more subtly the state.

He spoke about some of his goals, including economic development, the opposition of the importation of foreign low-level radioactive waste and government efficiency with fewer resources. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert now is grappling with the same issues.

"Salt Lake County represents 35 to 40 percent our population in Utah, so what's important for the state is also important for Salt Lake County," Corroon said in an interview following his speech.

The moderate Democrat is widely seen as his party's best chance to unseat Herbert, who took office in August after Jon Huntsman resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China. A Democrat has not served as governor in Utah since Scott Matheson left office in 1985, but Democrats believe Herbert is vulnerable.

Huntsman's record-setting approval ratings have not transferred over to Herbert and the former Realtor is still relatively unknown around the state.

Corroon said he's considering a run for governor and that he would make an announcement on whether he's entering the race "within a couple weeks."

"I want to feel comfortable first and foremost that things are stable in Salt Lake County government. Second, it's a large undertaking. I need to know that I can win this race," he said. Minutes earlier, he had ensured residents that "despite some bumps and bruises, our county is leaner, more focused to the needs of our constituents, and standing on solid financial ground."

Corroon has been flirting with a run for the governor's office since Huntsman resigned. He has already created a political action committee to assist him with fundraising.

Corroon also said following his speech that if he runs for governor, he wouldn't need to resign as mayor because the county has quality employees and department heads to keep things going.

So far, no Democrats or Republicans have said they'll challenge Herbert in 2010, although several Republicans are considering doing so in 2012 if Herbert remains in office.

Waiting to challenge Herbert in 2012 allows for the governor to build a legislative record that Republicans can run against while allowing more time to raise money before the state convention.

As an unopposed Democratic nominee, Corroon would have time to raise money before November and could sit back and watch as Herbert develops a legislative record in tough economic times.

Both parties will choose their nominees at conventions in May.