Stephen M. Studdert, the Utahn who was an aide to both Ronald Reagan and George Bush, says he won't run for political office in 1992.
Studdert, whose return to Utah over a year ago led to a flurry of speculation about which office he'd seek in the 1992 elections, said in a letter to the Deseret News that he's flattered by being mentioned in a recent Deseret News/ KSL-TV poll on possible GOP gubernatorial candidates, but that he'll stay in the private sector next year.Studdert has been mentioned as looking at the governor's race next year, especially after GOP Gov. Norm Bangerter announced he wouldn't seek a third term, and at the U.S. Senate race should Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, decide not to seek re-election. Garn hasn't announced his intentions.
Studdert, who served as one of Reagan's "advance men" organizing impressive rallies for the former president and was in charge of Bush's inauguration, was seen by political insiders as a heavyweight contender when he arrived back in the state.
But Studdert has had some missteps since then.
After a vicious GOP primary in the 3rd Congressional District last year - where Republicans John Harmer and Karl Snow cut each other up pretty bad - Snow, the GOP nominee, asked Studdert to be his campaign chairman.
Studdert was an active chairman, participating in campaign strategy and management. Unfortunately for him, Studdert was the man responsible for placing a controversial advertisement in the Utah County Journal the Sunday before the November final election.
The ad was offensive to a number of people. It showed Snow surrounded by his family and Democratic nominee Bill Orton, who is unmarried, alone. The ad hinted that since Orton was unmarried, he didn't hold the family values that Snow held.
While most political observers believe the ad didn't result in Snow's defeat by Orton - in a heavily Republican district - it certainly didn't leave a good taste in the mouths of GOP leaders in the state, many of whom were looking to blame someone - maybe anyone - for the defeats.
Studdert sent a letter to GOP state chairman Richard Snelgrove the week after the election accepting blame for the ad and asking forgiveness.
In his letter to the Deseret News this week, Studdert says he's been disappointed by recent political campaigns and the role of party leaders.
"The personal attack tenor and the absence of principled issues-driven political campaigns in recent American election cycles is appalling, and must for the public good be restored to a higher plane . . . Campaigns today are too often dominated by job-seeking career politicians with self-serving ego needs and parochial interests, and a regrettable lack of consistency of principle and constancy of purpose."
Speaking about Utah Republican politics specifically, Studdert says the importance of the state party has eroded.
"The state political process is deeply flawed, divisive and often meaningless. Originally, parties were founded on faith and understanding with a commitment to ideals and shared values and a recognition of the dignity of the individual. Today at the state level, political parties are little more than a vehicle for candidates to capture nomination and are too often politically irrelevant.
"Our state parties suffer from a glaring absence of well-articulated principle-centered vision. What does the Utah Republican Party, my traditional political home, stand for today? Myopic leadership is exclusionary, not expansionary, and there exists a very regrettable and disproportionate absence of involvement by women and minorities.
"Clearly as a state party organization it lacks sufficient social consciousness, it lacks sensitivity and compassion in human issues and it lacks tolerance of new approaches and ideas and individuals. There is little constituency building and an unfortunate failure to generate public understanding and support for particular policy initiatives.
"It is politics as usual; the true needs of our citizenry demand and deserve more."
Studdert says he'll stay active in politics, "as a private citizen."