Former GOP Speaker of the Utah House Nolan Karras will not run for governor in 1992, he said Sunday.
Karras was considered one of the early front runners for the Republican nomination. GOP Gov. Norm Bangerter announced late last year he would not seek a third term in 1992, so the seat is open, and half a dozen Republicans are considering the race including U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen, Lt. Gov. Val Oveson, lecturer and writer Richard Eyre, former state public safety director John T. Nielsen and Republican campaign consultant and insurance executive Michael Leavitt.In fact, Karras said Leavitt's almost-assured entrance into the race is the reason he decided his political future at this time.
Karras said if he ran for governor he believes he would win and do a good job. "But after much consideration I just decided that I did not have the overwhelming desire needed to run an 18-month campaign."
"I have never had a political agenda and I think it takes one to run. I may serve in the public arena in some capacity in the future," Karras said.
The political rumor mill has been running overtime recently, especially since Leavitt - who has managed U.S. Sens. Jake Garn's and Orrin Hatch's campaigns and is considered a Republican insider and strategist - announced last month he would not run for the U.S. Senate should Garn step down in 1992 and instead is considering the governor race.
Karras confirmed that Leavitt and several close political allies had earlier encouraged Karras to run for governor.
"I was a bit shocked when Mike told me he was thinking of the governor race and encouraged me to think of the Senate." But Karras said his interests and abilities lie in the state arena, not the federal. "Jim Hansen and others were buttonholing people and asking for support now. I felt I had to speed up and get in this race or get out and I decided to get out. I do not live to be governor or anyone's leader. I didn't grow up like some who are possessed with the idea of public office. With all these others scheming and maneuvering so early, I just don't want it that bad."
Karras, who served in the house from 1980 to 1990 and was speaker in 1989 and 1990, said the idea of raising some $1.5 million for a gubernatorial campaign and the self-promoting that must take place, "really concerned me and turned me off."
He considered challenging other GOP gubernatorial candidates to voluntarily limit their spending to $500,000 but was told by a number of political insiders that he had lower name identification among voters than Hansen or Oveson and that he would just be hurting himself by such a move.
"I figured that Mike and I would just cut each other up (in the state Republican) convention while Hansen would have his right wing delegates and Val would have those he has been courting for eight years." And, Karras added, he does not have the personal wealth to finance his own campaign, "And I have to make a living while some of these other people can afford to run full time right now."