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Utah's top leaders run state from Florida

Published August 30, 2012 6:42 pm

Politics • Senate president, who would be next in line of succession, filled in on at least one executive commitment.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

With seemingly every high-level Republican in Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention this week, some have asked who exactly is running Utah in the interim?

Well, it's still Gov. Gary Herbert. But under the succession of command, Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, has filled in for at least one official duty while the executive branch has been in Florida.

Waddoups met with South African dignitaries at the Capitol Thursday morning — a bit of business Herbert would have normally handled. But the meeting had been scheduled well in advance of Herbert's Tampa trip.

Senate spokesman Ric Cantrell said the visitors met in the Senate president's office, where they discussed economic development, trade opportunities and natural resources. No diamond mines were acquired by Utah during the meeting, but the state did send the visitors back with a coffee table book and a calendar.

A Herbert staff official, who declined to be named, said the only criteria for a transfer of power would be if "the governor is unable to discharge the duties of the office."

"The governor is completely in charge," the official said, noting Herbert is in contact with staff "multiple times a day" and there "was no need to leave instructions" with Waddoups in his absence.

Under the Utah Constitution, if Herbert couldn't execute the duties of the office, the chain of command falls to the lieutenant governor — and Lt. Gov. Greg Bell also is in Tampa — and then to the Senate president. After that, it would be the House speaker. Speaker Becky Lockhart also is attending the GOP convention.

The four-day convention, cut short by fears of a hurricane, ended Thursday night with the nomination of Mitt Romney.

dmontero@sltrib.comTwitter: @davemontero