Candidates seeking to replace Swallow include pair with ties to his accusors
Former Utah Supreme Court Justice Michael Wilkins promised in an email to central committee members Monday he'd provide a "calming and steady hand" over the next year as a caretaker attorney general.
Wilkins said that if the new attorney general is seen as a "rehabilitator," that will be an advantage to the Republican candidate in 2014.
"It would be seen as putting the interests of the people above partisan interests," he said.
Former Iron County Attorney Scott Burns, who is leaving the National District Attorneys Association after five years as executive director, said he couldn't "deal with an office that, honestly, is just a mess" while ramping up for a campaign.
Burns said the GOP will have to decide whether it is "more important to position for a victory a year from now in November, or if it's more important to take the state's legal office that is literally bleeding from a thousand cuts and repair it."
The other candidate in the race so far is Sean Reyes, who lost to Swallow in last year's GOP primary.
Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, said Republicans may want to avoid choosing anyone connected to Swallow.
"The cleaner they are from this whole scandal, the better off they and the attorney general's office are, regardless of whether it's a caretaker or someone who wants to the keep the job," Jowers said.
He said there are good arguments for and against a caretaker attorney general.
"It's an issue that's very worthy of debate," Jowers said. "The ultimate answer is going to be who that person is. That will be far more important than whether it's a caretaker or someone who wants to entrench herself and be there for a while."
Lisa Shepherd, a member of the central committee from Provo, said she's supporting Reyes and has concerns about both candidates seen as tied to Swallow and those who would be caretakers.
"I think there are some really good Democratic candidates," Shepherd said. "If the Republicans want to maintain the seat, my opinion is you get that person in there and you let them do a good job."
Contributing: Dennis Romboy
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