Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes in contact with Trump transition team

Utah talent • Hughes says he would be interested in a position helping shape policy.

| Courtesy Greg Hughes, op-ed mug.

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes has been in communication with the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump, raising the prospect that Hughes, a prominent Trump supporter during the campaign, could be offered a job in the new administration.

Hughes said Monday that he was contacted last week by a member of the transition team — whom he wouldn't name — and asked to send them some personal information about his experience in shaping policy.

He sent them information, focusing mainly on his work on transportation and mass-transit issues, but hasn't heard from the campaign since. Several national publications have mentioned Hughes as a potential secretary of the Department of Transportation.

If the Trump team came calling, Hughes said it would be something he would have to consider — both the nature of any offer as well as the impact on his young family.

"I would have to learn more about it. If it's something where I can work on a broad level, it would be something I would like to learn more about, and if I could be helpful and assist and if I thought the Utah model could help the administration in terms of their transportation plans nationally," Hughes said. "But I'm not much of a bureaucrat, so I'm not sure I would do well sitting in the bowels of a federal building pushing papers."

Hughes said it's unlikely that his family would want to relocate to Washington, D.C., meaning heavy commuting back and forth to his home in Draper, if he took the job.

He also said that, having just been re-elected House speaker and to another two-year term in the House, it would be a difficult decision.

"I'm in a very good place and I'm not out shilling for a job," he said.

In addition to serving as House speaker, Hughes spent several years as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Utah Transit Authority, where he pushed for an expansion of light rail and multi-modal transit. It was also a period where UTA was under intense scrutiny for paying rich executive salaries and funding lavish travel.

Hughes was a featured speaker last week at the Transportation for America conference in Sacramento, Calif., a meeting of transportation planners from around the country, where Hughes spoke on what Utah has done to encourage a diverse transit plan and changes to the state's gas tax intended to help maintain and expand roads.

Whoever becomes Trump's transportation secretary will likely play a crucial role in one of the president-elect's top priorities, a massive investment in rebuilding the nation's highways and bridges.

Others being floated for the job include former Florida Congressman John Mica, Rep. Bill Shuster, who currently heads the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Hughes is just one Utahn rumored to have a shot at landing a job in the Trump administration.

The Trump administration has been in contact with Attorney General Sean Reyes, who was a Trump surrogate and on a team that helped Trump put together a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, according to Reyes' campaign adviser Alan Crooks.

And Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, who spent years working for the Bureau of Land Management but now is one of its harshest critics, has been rumored to be among the candidates as the potential director of that public lands agency.

Mitt Romney, 2012 presidential nominee, met with Trump last weekend and reports suggested he might be a candidate for secretary of state.


Twitter: @RobertGehrke

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Greg Hughes speaks as the Utah Republican delegation meets over breakfast in Akron, OH, Monday July 18, 2016. Senator Orrin Hatch at left.