I don't know former GOP Speaker of the Utah House Nolan Karras at all - but he caught my eye last week. He announced that he would not run for governor in 1992.
By itself that is not startling. Since Gov. Bangerter announced he would not seek re-election, a lot of potential candidates are doing some searching - for money and support - wondering how far they should go.What is startling is the way Karras did it.
Even though some surveys show him to be the leading candidate among both Democrats and Republicans, he unceremoniously stepped out. Why?
"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."
A candidate who hates to think about spending all his time doing this stuff for almost two years and he admits it? What are we coming to here?
Then he said other candidates were buttonholing people 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."
Wow. I can't quite believe it.
He doesn't want it that bad! He does not have an overwhelming ambition to be anyone's leader! He is not possessed with the idea of public office!
I read this and thought about it and then I said to myself, "This is exactly the man we need to be governor - a man who doesn't want to be governor!"
I have thought for years that the biggest problem we have in electing candidates for public office is in finding one who is capable of doing a good job but, at the same time, is humble enough to trust.
Think about it. Most of those who run for any public office are almost obsessive about the desire to be a leader - a governor, a senator, a president. Many of them are so obsessive that they are nothing like the rest of us.
An obsessive person is almost always egocentric in the extreme - the kind you can make frightening jokes about.
When Gov. George Romney ran for president in 1968, there was a popular joke designed to prove that Romney was dangerously impressed with his own abilities.
Romney and an aide were said to have emerged from a political meeting together. The aide turned to Romney and said, "Beautiful day, Governor." Romney replied, "Thank you."
It was said that Franklin D. Roosevelt was only running for the presidency as a stepping stone. There were similar jokes told about Andrew Jackson and Lyndon Johnson.
They were funny - but they were also just close enough to the truth to be unsettling. And that is the problem - we need political leaders who are not only experienced and capable but who have enough self-confidence to lead forcefully.
But we don't need leaders who trust themselves so completely that they discount their advisers and the general public.
We need candidates who have balance.
That's why I was so struck with Nolan Karras. He has it. He also admitted that 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."
A governor who is not independently wealthy? Would such a person be more apt to understand the concerns of you and me? Yet does the process insist on the advantage of wealth for anyone to run a competitive campaign?
So I realize that this may be awkward for Karras, since he has withdrawn and all, but I think that as a community we should consider drastic action. We should draft him for the governorship.
Ironically, Karras has proved that he's worthy of the job by giving it up - with class.