Former Park West ski resort owner Jack E. Roberts will likely be the interim chairman of the Utah Republican Party, current chairman Craig Moody said Tuesday.

Moody, who has been elected majority leader in the Utah House of Representatives, will resign his party post in two weeks because of legislative duties.Roberts is currently the GOP national committeeman for Utah and attended the Republican National Convention this past summer. An attorney, Roberts moved to Utah from California in the mid-1970s after buying Park West, which he recently sold.

Moody's two-year term ends at the party's off-year convention in June. But he'll officially resign his party post Jan. 7 - two days before the Legislature convenes - to avoid possible party politics in the House.

"The party Central Committee will meet Jan. 6 to elect a new chairman who will serve for six months. I want to vote for Jack, that's why I'm not resigning until after the vote," he said with a smile.

Actually, Roberts is a conciliatory candidate who doesn't want to be a full-term chairman.

Moody's spot is highly coveted by a number of hungry Republicans. Traditionally, leading GOP officeholders, like Gov. Norm Bangerter and Sens. Jake Garn and Orrin Hatch, have handpicked the party chairman and the off-year convention sustained that selection.

But times have changed.

"People are really looking differently at the chairmanship," said Moody. "Some see it as a (political) stepping stone. At the very least, it is a highly visible office."

The chairman is the official spokesman for the party and appears in the media and on speaking programs throughout the state. He or she also recruits candidates and dispenses money to them and county parties. The friends it brings can be very helpful in future political races.

Thus, when a number of Republicans said they were going after Moody's spot, regardless of who else was running or who Bangerter, Garn and Hatch favored, a midyear fight was brewing. In part to stop the bloodshed, the congressional delegation and Bangerter have settled upon Roberts, Moody said, "and almost all of those who want the job have agreed to wait until June."

"Jack says he doesn't want to be chairman for a full term - just fill in for me for six months. Anyone can go for it in June. It should then be an open process," Moody said.