SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Ex-Utah GOP chair Thomas Wright added a political heavyweight to his run for governor on Thursday, tapping outgoing U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop as his lieutenant-governor candidate.
Bishop had weighed stepping into the race himself but decided against it earlier this week and endorsed Wright. He had already said he would not to run for a ninth term in the U.S. House.
“I am honored to have the candidate that I was most afraid of running against as my lieutenant governor,” Wright said as he announced the new ticket. He lauded Bishop's experience in Washington and work on behalf of rural Utah.
The addition of Bishop to the ticket comes as Wright looks to stand out in a crowded field of GOP hopefuls. The other candidates in the running included former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr., whose daughter Abby Huntsman announced earlier this week that she would leave the TV show “The View” to join his campaign.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s bid for the governor’s seat, meanwhile, has the backing of current Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who is not running for reelection. Other GOP hopefuls include former House Speaker Greg Hughes, Salt Lake County Council member Aimee Winder Newton and businessman Jeff Burningham. Democrat Zachary Moses is also in the race.
Wright is the president and principal broker of Summit Sotheby’s International Realty. He served as party chair from 2011 through 2013 and is a member of the Republican National Committee. He has not held public office before.
Bishop, 68, pledged not to run for another term in northern Utah's 1st Congressional District because he wouldn’t have been able to continue as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee beyond 2020 under congressional term limits.
“I am pleased that (Wright) has allowed me to use some of the experiences I have had to actually try and help create a better state government and better policies for the future,” Bishop said.
Bishop, a former history teacher and state lawmaker, won nearly two-thirds of the vote in his northern Utah district in 2018. He was first elected to the seat in 2002.