SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Tuesday he doesn't see a scenario where he'd seek a third full term as the state's top leader.
But then he admitted, "Never say never."
Herbert has previously said he won't seek another four years in the governor's chair come the 2020 election, but in a sit down with the Deseret News he would not rule it out.
"I am getting a lot of, I wouldn't call it pressure, but strong encouragement to do it again," he said.
Herbert also said Utah is on a strong fiscal path and stability in the governor's office could help ensure that it continues to stay solid.
Herbert was appointed 10 years ago to fill the remainder of then-Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s term when Huntsman resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China.
Herbert is not ineligible to run again. Utah's governors were previously limited to serving just three terms, but the Utah Legislature repealed those term limits in 2003.
The governor has since gone on to run back-to-back successful gubernatorial campaigns and enjoys a popularity rating among voters with approval percentages in the 70s — a highly favorable standing.
In 2014, Herbert was named the nation's most popular governor in the country by the Washington Post, garnering an approval rating of 73 percent.
The nonpartisan digital media and survey research company, Morning Consult, ranked him among the nation's top 10 governors after surveying 85,000 registered voters in 2017.
Herbert is also the longest-serving governor in the nation at present and heads a state that has led the country in its job growth rate since 2010 and was named the second-best state in the nation for business last year by Forbes.
Utah was named the No. 1 state in the country for fiscal stability by U.S. News & World Report last year, with Herbert pointing to current rainy day funds, or savings accounts, that exceed $800 million.
On the chance he might run again, Herbert said he has "a lot of people saying to give it some thought."
Herbert, who is set to deliver his State of the State address Wednesday night, said he believes Utah's financial performance will continue to be strong even in light of some naysayers who say the country is flirting with a downturn at best or a recession at worst.
"I am learning the market does not like disruption and it does not like change. It likes predictability and certainty and with me you get that," he said. "Whoever is going to be the next person (in the governor's chair) brings a little disruption and some uncertainty."14 comments on this story
Herbert noted the "good people" in the field considering a run at the governor's chair, including Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.
A Utahpolicy.com poll released this week noted 24 percent of voters, if they voted today, would pick Cox, while 18 percent favor former 3rd District Congressman Jason Chaffetz.
A slightly larger percentage, 26 percent, said they didn't know.
Herbert's name was not on that list.
Campaign finance records show the governor has $533,000 in a leadership political action committee.