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Romney has several Utah power players in key spots



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As Romney tells it, he met Leavitt in the Governor’s Mansion and laid out the not-so-rosy financial situation the Salt Lake City Olympics were facing.

"I have full confidence [in you], carry on," Leavitt told him, according to Romney’s book.

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For Leavitt, his new assignment means setting up plans for how to smoothly transition from the Obama administration to a Romney one, and what policies the new White House would engage in and who would be best suited to take them on.

It’s typical of presidential candidates to set up such plans before the election since there’s a relatively small window between winning and taking the oath of office, given the federal government’s size and complexity.

Gochnour, who served as Leavitt’s spokeswoman and worked at his firm, Leavitt Partners, says the former Utah governor is uniquely qualified for the task.

"He’s a policy-minded person," she said, "who knows how to roll his sleeves up and do a deep dive."

Josh Romney • Romney has two sons living in Utah, Ben and Josh, though Josh is the most politically active and has crisscrossed the country stumping for his dad through the primary race and now in the general election.

Recently, Josh Romney boarded the Romney Bus through the Pennsylvania towns of Rochester, Butler and Indiana in hopes of rallying voters to his dad’s side.

"I have a lot of fun going on the campaign trail and campaigning for my dad," the 36-year-old said earlier this year. "It can be really rewarding. It can be tough at times. People sometimes can be very critical of your dad right to your face."


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Josh Romney has hinted before at a possible political run of his own and was considering running in Utah’s gubernatorial race two years ago as the running mate to Kirk Jowers, the head of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics and a longtime friend of Mitt Romney. The bid never happened, but Josh Romney hasn’t ruled out putting his name on a future ballot.

Josh Romney also led the Romney family’s support for Utah congressional candidate Mia Love, whom Mitt Romney formally endorsed last week. Josh Romney is the chairman of Love’s campaign against Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in the newly created 4th Congressional District.

Kirk Jowers • Back in 2005, when Mitt Romney was first hinting at a presidential run, Jowers, an election lawyer by training, played a critical role as general counsel to a network of state-based Commonwealth political action committees (PACs), which many saw as the precursor to Romney’s eventual 2008 bid.

Those PACs, which Jowers now heads, provided the funds for Romney to go into early primary states to build support for a possible bid, a key initial move in his six-year run for the White House.

While the PACs are dormant now, Jowers continues to raise funds for Romney and is on his national finance team. At the Republican National Convention, Jowers was seen sporting a fancy Romney pin, one he received for raising more than $250,000.

Jowers first got to know Romney when volunteering for his race against Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994 and at the time became friends with Romney’s son Tagg. The two ended up hanging out frequently.

"They had a good weight room, and we played some tennis there," Jowers recalls of the Romneys’ Belmont, Mass., home. "Mitt would come down and lift with us, or hit some tennis balls."

Later on, Jowers would come on board to help with the Commonwealth PACs and has been one of his biggest boosters in Utah, rounding up endorsements and cash.

"It’s been kind of an amazing journey since ’94," Jowers said, "to watch this young, vibrant, idealistic man."

tburr@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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