Greg Curtis</I>

It is one more and done for Utah House Speaker Greg Curtis.

Curtis, one of the most powerful politicians in Utah, said Tuesday that if he wins re-election this year from his northeast Sandy constituents, he will retire from the House in 2010.

Locked in a close race with Democrat Jay Seegmiller in House District 49, Curtis said he would likely take the 2010 election off — not run for any office — and then consider his political options for 2012, when Utah will likely have an open governor's race, a fourth U.S. House seat, maybe even an open U.S. Senate seat.

If he wins re-election on Nov. 4, Curtis, R-Sandy, said, "I anticipate that my (GOP) colleagues will re-elect me as speaker" for his last two years in the 75-member House.

Curtis, 47, won election for the first time in 1994, moved through leadership ranks and won his first, two-year term as speaker in 2004. He was re-elected speaker unanimously by House Republicans in 2006, after he barely beat Seegmiller that year by 20 votes in the general election.

Curtis has proven one of the more influential speakers in recent memory, often personally getting involved in a number of state, even local, issues.

He has also proven, at times, a controversial figure, something that he said he often wonders at. For example, Curtis said, U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson raises $1.4 million in his re-election campaign "and the media say he's a prodigious fundraiser. I raise money and I'm called some kind of unethical" person.

However, even after he leaves the Utah House, don't count Curtis out of politics.

Between his personal political action committee and his campaign fund, Curtis has more than $365,000 — the most ever raised by a legislator. It is money he could use in a future campaign, as he's already said he won't come near to spending it all in his race against Seegmiller this year.

"I'm holding another fundraiser" on Tuesday night, the speaker said.

When someone asks him why he's raising money now when he doesn't need it for his legislative races, Curtis says he has interest in some future (and higher) office.

GOP Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who seeks re-election this year, has already said he won't run again in 2012.

Utah barely missed out on getting a fourth U.S. House seat after the 2000 Census, and all agree it will get a fourth (maybe even a fifth) House seat following the 2010 Census.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, 74, has been in office since 1977. Hatch would be 78 if he ran for re-election in 2012 and 84 if he served out another term. Hatch hasn't said if he'll run again in four years.

"One reason I'm leaving in 2010 is that I want nothing to do with redistricting" of Utah's U.S. House seats when the state gets another seat, said Curtis.

By law, the Utah Legislature, following each 10-year Census, redraws U.S. House districts, all legislative districts and state school board districts.

Several years ago, when it appeared that Congress would give Washington, D.C., a voting U.S. House seat — and give Utah another House seat (likely Republican) to politically offset D.C.'s likely Democratic seat — the Legislature passed a four-district plan. That plan put the fourth, unoccupied, district in southern Salt Lake County — with Curtis living in that new district. But Congress didn't act on the D.C. voting bill.

By retiring from the Utah House before the 2011 redistricting, "that way no one can say that I influenced" where the U.S. House boundaries are drawn, said Curtis.

Anticipating that GOP candidate Jason Chaffetz will win the 3rd District race this year, and that Matheson, a Democrat, will hold on to his 2nd District seat, Curtis said, "I don't know if I would be put in with Jason or with Matheson or into a new district" with no incumbent. "But in any case, I couldn't be accused" of trying to help his chances by being speaker or in the Utah House during redistricting by the 2011 Legislature.


E-mail: bbjr@desnews.com