Republican House speaker in Utah won't seek re-election

Wednesday , January 10, 2018 - 3:18 PM

By LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes won’t seek re-election this year, his chief of staff said Wednesday.

The speaker plans to keep his leadership role through the 2018 session that begins this month and will push hard on big issues, chief of staff Greg Hartley said.

“If people think they can treat him like a lame duck, they’ll get a wounded wolf,” he said in a statement.

Hughes is planning to take a break before evaluating “what, if anything, the future holds,” Hartley said. Hughes didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

The Republican may have his eye on a higher office, perhaps the governor’s seat that is opening in 2020, said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

“What we know about Greg Hughes is he has a plan for whatever he does,” Perry said. “He is known for being willing to take risks.”

Hughes’ recent high-profile initiatives have statewide interest, including a broad push to tackle homelessness and other problems at Salt Lake City’s overflowing downtown shelter.

During his tenure as speaker, Hughes marshalled House Republicans resisting a push by Gov. Gary Herbert to expand Medicaid. He and other legislative leaders also pushed back on Herbert over the timing and process of a special election to replace Jason Chaffetz in the U.S. House.

A former boxer from Pittsburg, Hughes has served in the Legislature since 2003 and as speaker since 2015. He represents the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper, where he is a developer and property manager. He previously served as chairman of the Utah Transit Authority board.

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