Utah House Speaker Craig Moody says he won't seek re-election to the House in 1992 and will leave the body after 10 years of service.
Moody, a Republican from Sandy, is considering running for either Sen. Jake Garn's U.S. Senate seat or for the 2nd District U.S. House seat now held by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, who is running for the Senate.About a dozen of Moody's friends, associates and colleagues announced Friday that they have formed an exploratory committee to raise money for polling that will help him decide which, if any, race to enter.
But Moody says he may well return to private life and not seek any office next year. "My family and I always planned that the (Utah) House would be a 10-year commitment. I personally don't believe a speaker should try to stay in (the speaker's) office, change is healthy." Thus, if he decided to stay, Moody said he'd probably step down as speaker and return to the House body in general.
In recent years, that has rarely been done and Moody sees wisdom in that tradition. Former speakers Jim Hansen and Norm Bangerter left the House and ran for higher office (Hansen for Congress, Bangerter for governor). Former speakers Robert Garff and Nolan Karras left public life. In the last dozen years, only former speaker Glen Brown, R-Coalville, stepped out of the speaker's chair and went back into the body.
Moody is credited by many political and legislative leaders with changing the face of Utah politics.
In the mid-1980s, Utah Democrats hit a 50-year low point, holding few offices and being in such a minority in the Legislature that they couldn't place members on some committees - there weren't enough Democrats to staff them.
Current Salt Lake County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi was elected Democratic state party chairman in 1985 and went to work raising money for candidates and capturing the media's attention. Moody, then House Rules Committee chairman - a powerful job - was tapped in 1987 by GOP leaders to counter the bombastic Horiuchi.
Lively public debates followed, but Moody's real achievements as party and House leader came in GOP legislative fund raising, campaign training and targeting and candidate recruitment.
Sophisticated fund raising brought in tens of thousands of dollars to GOP legislative candidates. Within four years, House and Senate Republicans were raising $50,000 to $70,000 for their own re-elections - not counting on state party support - and fighting back against Democrats who were targeting vulnerable GOP incumbents.
Spending in House races went from ranges of $1,000-$3,000 to $10,000-$15,000. In 1990 elections, some House candidates raised and spent $20,000. Democrats made gains in the Legislature, but Horiuchi's prediction that Democrats would control the House in 1988 or 1990 haven't come true, due in a large part to Moody's work.