The race to replace Sean Reyes as Utah A.G. has its first official candidate

Derek Brown, a lawyer, lobbyist and former GOP chair, announced his bid to replace Reyes, who is not seeking reelection.

Derek Brown, a lawyer and former chair of the Utah Republican Party, announced Tuesday that he is running in next year’s attorney general election.

Brown, who also is a lobbyist, becomes the first candidate to step into the contest to replace Attorney General Sean Reyes, who on Friday reversed his previous decision and said he would not run for reelection in 2024.

“I believe Utah needs a constitutional conservative — someone who will always put Utahns first, promote law and order in our communities, and continue to push back against the federal government when it oversteps its bounds,” Brown said in a statement.

Brown had telegraphed the move weeks ago when he created a committee — chaired by former Gov. Gary Herbert, who first appointed Reyes to the office — to explore a bid to challenge Reyes.

The outgoing attorney general has been beset by controversy surrounding his friendship with Tim Ballard, the founder of the anti-trafficking nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad who also is the subject of multiple civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct and assault and now two criminal investigations.

Brown served in the Utah House from 2011 to 2014, when he left to take a job as deputy chief of staff and state director for U.S. Sen. Mike Lee. He later served one term as chairman of the state party.

Herbert will continue to serve as Brown’s campaign chairman.

“Our country is in a difficult place,” Brown said. “Some believe that we are more divided than ever. But Utah is different. Utah is a place where people come together and communities prosper. But there is no guarantee that things will stay that way. That is why I’m running to be Utah’s next attorney general.”