Can House speaker be a 'real fighter' in governor's race?
"I think she has a good base out there who would be supportive of her efforts," House Minority Whip Tim Cosgrove, D-Murray, said. "The governor's done a good job. I'm not going to get between those two."
Menlove said Herbert's veto threat will be seen as a "little harsh" by some voters.
"I'll be brazen. I think the governor coming right out and saying, 'I'll veto that bill,' without really understanding what it could have been...I think it was an interesting shot," she said.
University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said Lockhart was able to raise her profile with voters by using the speakership to confront her potential political adversary.
"It obviously brought her some attention, which is something she'll need," especially to take on a sitting governor, Burbank said. "My guess is, she's about where she wants to be."
A House Republican agreed.
"I think she has goals and certainly she would have preferred that she has passed some of her big ideas," the House Republican said. "But even if she didn't pass them, she can differentiate herself from Herbert."
But others said the tone the speaker set may have turned off potential supporters.
"I think it was a really hard session for her," one longtime lawmaker said. "That opening speech did not do her any good."
Cosgrove said the "big fissures" between the governor and the speaker made the legislative process this session "more challenging. It was probably a tougher atmosphere."
What was seen as Lockhart's political ambitions also spilt her fellow GOP lawmakers.
Not only were the House and Senate Republican leadership at odds, the House GOP caucus balked at backing the education initiative because of the big price tag as well as the Medicaid plan.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, tried to downplay the tension.
"Yes, I am running for governor in 2016," the Senate leader joked to reporters on the final day of the session. "That's a question you'll have to ask her, if she's going to run or not."
Lockhart also showed some humor on the subject.
"I know how to take a punch," she said. "You know the real fighters by how they react after they get hit."
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