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Josh Romney would consider lieutenant-governor position

Published: Tuesday, June 2 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Lt. Gov. Josh Romney?

Maybe.

Romney, the son of former Salt Lake Olympic leader Mitt Romney, told the Deseret News on Monday that he won't run for governor himself in 2010.

But he didn't rule out serving as soon-to-be-governor Gary Herbert's No. 2.

"It's definitely not something I'm actively campaigning for," Josh Romney said. "If it were offered to me, I would give it serious consideration."

Romney, 33, said he and Herbert have already talked several times since Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. announced he would step down once the U.S. Senate confirms his appointment as ambassador to China.

The lieutenant governor's spot "didn't come up in conversations," Romney said. "There's nothing official or serious at this point. But I'm considering all options. I find it to be a great thing to give back to the community, to serve in public office."

Herbert is in Washington, D.C., much of this week, attending a U.S. Election Assistance Commission board meeting. He told the News in a recent interview that he expected to begin interviewing candidates over the next few weeks and announce his choice after Huntsman leaves office.

Just when that will be remains to be seen. The Senate has yet to schedule Huntsman's confirmation hearing. Herbert also said he's had plenty of suggestions offered about whom he should choose. Romney's name has been mentioned repeatedly in political circles.

The two know each other through Mitt Romney's unsuccessful run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. Herbert headed up that campaign in Utah because Huntsman backed the eventual Republican nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Romney, a real estate developer and the only one of the five Romney sons to live in Utah, considered his first run for political office last year when party leaders talked to him about challenging Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah.

Herbert had sought the younger Romney's endorsement for his planned 2012 run for governor. Now, because of Huntsman's midterm departure, a special election will be held in 2010.

Romney said he was not interested in running for governor in 2010. "There's no chance of that happening," he told the Deseret News. Romney said there are already a number of "great people who would do a great job" as governor looking at the race, including Herbert, University of Utah Hinckley Institute of Politics director Kirk Jowers and Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce head Lane Beattie.

He said he's not ready yet to endorse any gubernatorial candidate, even though he said Herbert is "a great leader" who shares many of the same political positions as both Romneys. "I'm on the sidelines for now," he said.

But Romney said he is prepared to be lieutenant governor — if it's offered, and if he decides it's the right move for his young family and career.

"I've had a lot of good experience, both on the campaign trail and politically," he said. "I've learned a lot. This is a position I could handle. Is it the right time for me and my family? That's a different decision."

e-mail: lisa@desnews.com

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