Shurtleff says he's done with politics, pursuing U. presidency

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 9 2011 1:23 p.m. MST

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Wednesday he won't be running for elected office now that he's a candidate for the University of Utah presidency.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Wednesday he won't be running for elected office now that he's a candidate for the University of Utah presidency.

"I'm out of political life and we'll see about the rest," he told the Deseret News before making a speech at LDS Business College at a tribute to fallen soldiers.

He had talked about seeking a fourth term as the state's top law enforcement officer or even a bid for Congress. But that's behind him now.

"Regardless of what this is or anything else, the time is right to make that decision and I'm not going to run for anything," Shurtleff said.

His office confirmed Monday he has applied for the U. presidency, surprising many both on and off campus since he has no academic background.

Shurtleff suggested Wednesday that shouldn’t stop him from being considered to lead the state's flagship university.

"Just a reminder, that a man I know who is a former attorney general of Oregon later become one the greatest presidents of the University of Oregon in their history. So that's all I'm going to say," he said, an apparent reference to Dave Frohnmayer, who served as Oregon's attorney general for 10 years before being named dean of the University of Oregon's law school and, in 1994, that university's president.

Frohnmayer, who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship and received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, retired as university president in 2009.

Shurtleff declined to discuss what he felt he has to offer by making the jump from public office to head of the U.

"I'm going to tell you later. I really don’t want to comment on it right now," he said. "I'm happy to talk more about it later, but I really don’t want to influence the process right now."

He said seeking the post as an elected official doesn’t influence the selection process, now under way.

"I don't think it does at all," he said. "No, I would expect it to be determined on the merits like every single person and everybody else is being kept private at this time."

Shurtleff said, "I, in no way, want to suggest that I've been trying to somehow lobby the selection committee or influence the selection committee by talking to the media about it."

The 20-member search committee assigned to find a replacement for former U. President Michael Young is keeping the names of applicants private but is expected to release a list of finalists by next spring.

Other political figures whose names have surfaced as possible candidates include Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and former Gov. Mike Leavitt.

Corroon said Tuesday he found out his name had been submitted as a candidate only after being contacted by a consultant hired to help the search effort. "Obviously, it would be a great honor," the mayor said.

A spokeswoman for Leavitt's consulting firm said Tuesday he had also been nominated but did not intend to apply because of his involvement with his business interests.

Shurtleff has a law degree from the University of Utah and is the author of a historical novel about Dred Scott, the subject of a landmark legal decision. He served as a U.S. Navy judge advocate and has practice law both in the private and public sectors.

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com Twitter: dnewspolitics

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