SALT LAKE — Former House Speaker Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, is running for Congress and will resign his legislative seat at the end of the year, Washington County GOP Chairman Willie Billings said Friday.
He said Clark made the announcement to county party officials Thursday night. "He was heartfelt," Billings said. "It does mean something to southern Utah to have someone from down here" in the race.
Clark is seeking the 2nd District seat now held by the state's only Democrat in Congress, Rep. Jim Matheson. Matheson has said he is still deciding whether to run for re-election in the 2nd District or run for the state's new 4th District seat, or even governor.
Billings said Clark's received an enthusiastic response "because he's a southern Utah guy and he's been involved for a long time, and been speaker of the House and is very well liked. ... He's very popular. He's a hometown boy."
Clark did not immediately return telephone calls but Billings said he will leave the Legislature on Dec. 30. Lawmakers cannot raise campaign funds during the 45-day legislative session that begins in late January.
First elected to the state House in 2000, Clark has served as both majority leader and speaker, as well as the chairman of the Health Reform Task Force. He was replaced as speaker last year by Rep. Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, in a close vote.
During the recent redrawing of the state's congressional districts to reflect the results of the 2010 Census, Clark pushed for new 2nd District boundaries that would make it more likely for a southern Utahn to win the seat.
"Looking at redistricting, it might be a little easier. It's certainly not a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination," Billings said. "But it might be the time for him to run...it'll help his cause a little bit.