‘The Rundown’: What to expect from the Utah House GOP leadership shuffle

As House Majority Leader Francis Gibson resigns, others may be looking for a promotion on the Hill

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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) House Republicans confer around House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, after Democrats walked out before a resolution on critical race theory was debated at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

What to expect from the Utah House GOP leadership shuffle

With the news that House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, is resigning from the Legislature next month, it means there will be an open slot in majority leadership.

A few longtime observers of the Utah Legislature “The Rundown” spoke to said they don’t expect much of a shakeup in the House GOP leadership team. While every member of the GOP caucus can run for the open majority leader job, it’s a good bet we’ll see a few promotions.

Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, should move from Majority Whip to Majority Leader.

Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem, the current assistant majority whip, is the odds-on favorite to take Schultz’s current job.

The favorite right now to move into the Assistant Majority Whip job is Rep. Jefferson Moss, R-Saratoga Springs. Moss is currently the House co-chair of the Executive Appropriations Committee.

A few other members of the House GOP caucus could be dark-horse candidates if they choose to run.

Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, is the House chair of the Executive Appropriations Committee. But, he could be facing a tough re-election bid in 2022, so he may not want to take on the responsibilities of a leadership position right now.

Rep. Tim Hawkes, R-Centerville, is the chair of the powerful House Rules Committee. Hawkes is the House point-man for alcohol-related legislation, meaning he’s no stranger to tough negotiations.

Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, is often tasked by leadership to handle complex legislative proposals like Medicaid expansion or tax reform. He’s also the vice-chair of the House Rules Committee.

Rep. Candace Pierucci, R-Riverton, is the only millennial in the Utah Legislature and is considered a rising star in the GOP caucus. Still, she might be regarded as too “green” for a leadership spot right now.

Here’s what you need to know for Wednesday morning

Utah news

🏛 House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, the #2 Republican in the Utah House, announced he was stepping down next month. [Tribune]

🏛 Utah’s independent redistricting commission’s map proposals would give a slight advantage to Utah Democrats. Utah lawmakers can ignore those map proposals if they choose. [Tribune]

💉 The Salt Lake County Council approved certain exemptions to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for county employees. There currently is no vaccine mandate. County Mayor Jenny Wilson called the new ordinance “unnecessary.” [Tribune]

💉 Giving the COVID vaccine to kids will be a big step toward getting the pandemic under control, says one Utah pediatrician. [Tribune]

🏛 Utah officials are dialing back on using tax breaks to lure businesses to the state. [Tribune]

National news

🏛 President Joe Biden’s domestic spending plan has been cut in half as he tries to convince Congress’s more reluctant Democratic members to get on board. [Politico]

  • Democrats want to pay for their spending proposals by increasing taxes on the ultra-rich. Their proposal would affect about 700 extremely wealthy Americans. [WSJ]

🏛 The committee investigating the attempted insurrection on January 6 is expected to subpoena John Eastman, the lawyer who wrote a memo outlining how former Vice President Mike Pence could deny the presidency to Joe Biden. [WaPo]

💉 Business groups call the White House to delay a forthcoming vaccine or testing mandate until after the holidays. [The Hill]

💉 Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted to approve the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old. [WaPo]

🏛 Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill banning transgender girls from participating in female sports in schools. [WaPo]

⚖️ A Florida judge threw out former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Twitter. Trump was seeking reinstatement to the social media platform. The judge ruled Trump was not exempt from Twitter’s terms of use. [Insider]

💻 YouTube, Snap, and TikTok executives get grilled during a congressional hearing over privacy and posts that are harmful to children. [NYT]

⚖️ A judge ruled the men shot by Kyle Rittenhouse cannot be called “victims” during his trial because the term is “loaded.” They may be referred to as “rioters,” “looters,” and “arsonists,” however. [WaPo]

🚨 A California man was arrested for allegedly making a death threat to Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. [Politico]

🪐 For the first time, astronomers have discovered signs of a planet beyond our galaxy. [WaPo]

Headline of the day

🧇 A woman is suing Kellogg for $5 million because she claims there aren’t enough strawberries in strawberry Pop-Tarts. [WaPo]

Wednesday’s Utah news roundup


  • Is Utah misusing federal funding intended to help renters by paying landlord legal fees? [Tribune]

  • Utah football to retire No. 22 in honor of Ty Jordan, Aaron Lowe. [Tribune]

  • Shooting officer acted reasonably in killing Dillon Taylor, appeals court agrees. [Tribune]

  • Salt Lake City IT employee knowingly endangered officer lives in deal for sex, prosecutors say. [Tribune]

  • What’s new, and what’s back to normal, at Utah’s ski and snowboard resorts. [Tribune]


  • More than 200 Utahns have died of COVID-19 in October alone. [Tribune]

  • ‘I’m tired of getting yelled at’: Utah’s health care workers say they’re facing increased hostility during COVID-19. [Tribune]


  • Two colleges in Utah continue to lose students as others start to rebound from the pandemic. [Tribune]

  • Dixie State or Utah Tech University? Vote on official recommendation looms. [Deseret News]


  • George Pyle: Utah politicians and radio jabberers should pull a shift at Primary Children’s before spouting any more anti-vax propaganda. [Tribune]

  • Alan Ormsby: Medicare should negotiate to get us all less expensive medicines. [Tribune]

— The Tribune’s Jordan Miller contributed to this report.