Utah Public Safety Commissioner John T. Nielsen won't run against Attorney General David Wilkinson for the GOP attorney general's nomination this year.
Nielsen was seriously considering the race. But he said Friday, the final day to file for office, that Jon Huntsman's decision not to run against Gov. Norm Bangerter sealed his decision."Huntsman's withdrawal has struck what I believe is the theme and goal of the Republican Party this year party unity," Nielsen said.
Wilkinson is seeking a third term to the attorney general's office and had reason for concern over a Nielsen challenge. A recent Deseret News/KSL-TV poll showed Nielsen within 8 points of the incumbent; 36 percent were undecided.
Nielsen said several factors were against his running. Could he do an adequate job as public safety commissioner and still run? Would he have to take a leave of absence from his current job, and thus not afford to run? And did he want to commit the time and effort required of a statewide campaign?
Bill Arseneau, director of state surplus property, was considering challenging Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, for the 3rd District GOP nomination. Francine Giani, Bangerter's press secretary, confirmed that Arseneau was told by Bangerter that if he runs, he loses his state job. Both Arseneau and Nielsen serve at Bangerter's pleasure. Arseneau decided not to run.
Nielsen said Bangerter didn't give him a similar ultimatum. "The governor and I never got that far in our conversations. But it was a concern. I couldn't afford not to work for six months."
Nielsen added that he may well consider running for the attorney general's office four years from now. "I want to be attorney general and believe I would do a good job."