Mark Shurtleff (R)

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline)-Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff inadvertently said Tuesday that he will enter the Republican primary against U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010.

After former Republican congressional candidate Tim Bridgewater sent a Twitter announcement that he was dropping out of the race for Utah Republican Party chairman to challenge Bennett, Shurtleff fired off a series of Twitter messages about his upcoming campaign that he thought were private.

"I'm announcing I'm running at 12," Shurtleff wrote in one cryptic message. "It will also be against Bennett and I'll pick up his delegates when he drops off the first ballot," Shurtleff also said, referring to the nominating process at the Utah Republican state convention.

He also wrote about fundraising and being endorsed by a legislative conservative caucus. As for his upcoming, yet-to-be-announced campaign against Utah's junior senator, Shurtleff said it's "time to rock and roll."

Shurtleff deleted his postings shortly after they were sent out.

The attorney general sent the messages from Israel, where is he on a trade mission with Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. Shurtleff has scheduled a May 20 press conference to formally announce his campaign intentions.

Bennett has come under fire from some fellow Republicans for his support of the federal bailout of the nation's financial industry earlier this year.

Shurtleff handily won a third term as the Beehive State's chief legal officer in November.

He was challenged by Democrat Jean Welch Hill, an attorney for the state Board of Education, and Libertarian W. Andrew McCullough, a First Amendment lawyer.

Shurtleff won the race, taking nearly 70 percent of the vote. He was elected to a second term in 2004 with 68 percent of the vote

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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