Shurtleff makes Senate run official

By Chris Rizo | May 22, 2009

Mark Shurtleff (R)

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline)-Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has made it official. He is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by fellow Republican Bob Bennett.

Shurtleff's announcement follows weeks of speculation that he would run against the three-term senator in 2010, and an accidental campaign announcement last week on the social networking site Twitter.

Political observers say 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 said in his campaign announcement that he can help affect real change in Washington, change that Utahans will support.

"We conservatives can all see that we are over 100 days down a dangerous slippery slope to socialism," Shurleff said in a reference to President Barack Obama's first 100 days in office. "The rumblings can be felt nationwide. We are ready to bring our party back to life, and the time is now. We can no longer support Republicans who vote against our ideals and represent Washington to us instead of us to Washington. It's time to get back to basics, in a modern, available and transparent way."

Bennett is the ranking Republican member on the powerful Senate Rules Committee and serves as counsel to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The ooops Tweet

Last week, 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.

Among other things, he 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."

The attorney general sent the messages from Israel, where he was on a trade mission with Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

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 chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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