Utah’s Rep. Rob Bishop to announce in January if he’ll run for governor

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Nine-term Rep. Rob Bishop talks to the Sutherland Institute in Salt Lake City about innovating education in this Aug. 28, 2019, file photo. Bishop, who is not seeking reelection to Congress says he will announce in January whether or not he will run for Utah governor.

Washington • Rep. Rob Bishop says he’ll announce in January whether he’s going to run for Utah governor — and he’s already mapped out he how could win if he makes a bid.

He said he knows what he's intending to do but, “I'm not telling you what I'm going to announce.”

The Republican congressman, who isn’t running for a 10th term in the House, had said he would make his decision in November but pushed it back because there’s no reason to jump in before January.

Bishop would be joining an already crowded field seeking to replace outgoing Gov. Gary Herbert, who is not running. So far, former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton and businessman Jeff Burningham have announced they’re running.

Former House Speaker Greg Hughes is also considering tossing his hat in the ring. All are Republicans.

Democrat Zachary Moses has announced he’s running as well.

Bishop, who served as speaker of the House in Utah from 1992-94 and then spent four years as state Republican Party chairman before running for Congress, says the more people in the race, the better.

“That makes it easier,” Bishop said, noting that with so many possible candidates, one person could garner 25% or 30% and win the vote of delegates at the state convention.

Bishop says he has no plans to gather signatures, which is one way onto the primary ballot, and will go through the Republican convention.

“The more people in there, the less you need to actually win,” Bishop said, adding that system “is really stupid right now” and is one thing he would fix if he runs and wins the governor’s office.

The congressman said he’s been told he would have to raise $2 million to compete in the gubernatorial race but he believes that’s bunk.

Without paying to gather signatures and running through the convention, he believes he could use the $300,000 in his congressional campaign account (it's legal to funnel that into a state race) and match it with corporate donors in Utah to develop enough cash to run a lean but strong campaign.

He doesn't see the need to raise millions.

“You spend that kind of money only if you have to run ads for name ID, and in the polls I’ve seen, I don’t need them,” Bishop said. “Nor can I change my image if I wanted to run ads, so that’s useless.”

He notes that while others have jumped in already, voters aren't going to pay attention until the actual election year.

If he makes a bid, Bishop would have some catching up to do.

A poll by UtahPolicy.com and Y2 Analytics released last week showed Cox with a big lead over Huntsman, followed by Bishop in single digits among Republican voters.

Cox grabbed 41% of the GOP voters, the poll showed, compared to 29% for Huntsman. Bishop clocked in with 9%.

The new poll included 911 registered Republican voters who were contacted between Nov. 19 and Dec. 7. UtahPolicy identified the margin of error at plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

Editor’s note • Jon Huntsman is a brother of Paul Huntsman, The Salt Lake Tribune’s owner and publisher.