Utah Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert in line for a big promotion

Published May 15, 2009 10:09 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert and Gov. Jon Huntsman have twice shared the ballot, but the two share little else.

While Huntsman has plowed a moderately progressive path on topics such as civil unions and global warming, Herbert trends more heavily to the right.

"There are absolutely clear differences between the two guys and I think they both made those differences clear," said Joe Demma, Herbert's chief of staff.

Huntsman has received national recognition and flak from the conservative Utah Legislature for his stance on climate change, enlisting Utah in a regional initiative to significantly reduce green-house gasses in coming years.

Herbert, though, is "not where Huntsman is," Demma said.

"Global warming needs to be realized before anyone talks about it, the science is not all there," Demma said. "Gary Herbert puts question marks on things that the governor has put periods on."

Civil unions is another policy that the two disagree on, Demma said.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, says Herbert is "in tune" with the majority of Utahns on social issues.

"The values that he embraces are the values that he lives his life by," Bramble said. "He doesn't have to put on any kind of facade for the delegates or the citizens. What you see is what you get with Gary."

Herbert ran for governor in 2004, but withdrew his candidacy just before convention to sign on as Huntsman's running mate. Herbert served as a Utah County commissioner for 14 years, and was president of the Utah Association of Counties.

As lieutenant governor, Herbert led state efforts on homeland security, elections, transportation, water and rural affairs.

"I don't believe that there's an elected official in the state that has done more to reach out to all parts of the state than Gary Herbert," said Stan Lockhart, chairman of state GOP.

While Herbert wants to see more school funding and road construction and maintenance throughout the state, Demma said, he knows the pulse of rural Utah.

Herbert has spent much of his time in office traveling the state to listen to voters outside of the state's population center. He co-chairs the Governor's Rural Partnership Board, and has stayed close with county commissioners after he became the state's number two.

"Gary Herbert has an appreciation of the 25 counties not on the Wasatch Front, but that doesn't mean he doesn't care about the Wasatch Front. He knows where the people are," Demma said. "But he is mindful of rural Utah and its impact on the state, and that it's beneficial to have a successful rural Utah."

Herbert has discussed water issues with many local leaders, and is prepared to battle surrounding states for water rights.

"Gary Herbert is prepared to fight Nevada harder than anyone has ever fought Nevada when it comes to our Snake Valley pipeline," Demma said.

Herbert also supports mixed use for public lands but wants to be "thoughtful and respectful" at the same time, Demma said.

It's that attitude that has Bramble describing Herbert as a "genuinely nice guy."

"Gary finds ways to build consensus," Bramble said. "He's well-grounded in his own political philosophy, but doesn't alienate those with different points of view."

Lockhart agrees, calling Herbert a "consensus builder."

"He certainly is well-prepared," Lockhart said. "He's got a wealth of experience and is ready for the task ahead, whatever that may be."

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About Gary Herbert

Age: 62.

Family: Wife, Jeanette, six children.

Profession: Realtor; former president of Utah Realtors Association.

Education: Graduated from Orem High; studied engineering and accounting at Brigham Young University.

Political history: Elected to second term as lieutenant governor in 2008; ran for governor in 2004 before dropping out to be Huntsman's running mate; 14 years as Utah County commissioner; past president of Utah Association of Counties; narrowly lost Orem City Council race in 1980s.

Hobbies: Plays the trumpet and a mean game of tennis.

Tidbits: Veteran of the Utah Army National Guard.

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