MIDVALE (News4Utah)- Current Speaker of the House Greg Hughes announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election in 2018. Many believe this could be the first move towards a higher office such as Governor.
Speaker Hughes says he decided to make the announcement early to allow others time to consider a run.
During a press conference Speaker Hughes said he doesn’t plan to ease up during the legislative session which begins in 12 days. He also warned against anyone who thinks he’s won’t be able to get things done because of his announcement.
“If they think that I’m a lame duck they will find a wounded wolf,” said Speaker Hughes.
The announcement came as a shock to many. Hughes has served the 51st District in Draper since 2002.
While he said he plans to stay involved in politics in the future he wouldn’t elaborate on what that might be out of fear it might interfere with the upcoming session.
“What I don’t want to do is start measuring for drapes while I’m on the clock,” said Speaker Hughes. I still have a job to do.”
Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, Jason Perry, said it will be hard for people not to think about the Speakers future during the session. Although some lawmakers don’t like taking on controversial issues in an election year. Perry believes Hughes could still get it done.
“He still has a lot of mussel he’ll be able to use during the session,” said Perry. “All of his colleagues might not want to tackle tough issues, but I don’t see him shying away from them.”
Most recently Hughes gained notoriety for leading the charge on Operation Rio Grande. During this session homelessness will be a major issue, along with education and transportation.
“We’re going to spend, going to take every ounce of political capitol we have and spend it on behalf of the people of Utah,” said Speaker Hughes.
Jason Perry said the Speaker’s focus on local issues would indicate a run for Governor. In today’s political climate many who plan to run for such a big office often have to plan years in advance.
” You need to raise the funds to run a campaign, and you need to build your name ID,” said Perry.
Perry notes that Hughes has been in politics long enough with success that this decision didn’t come lightly.
“There is a lot of strategy that goes into a decision like this,” said Perry. “One thing I know for certain is Greg Hughes never makes a decision without a strategy in play.”
Experts said while this will give time for other opponents to run for his seat. It will also give time for leadership to consider who will be next in line.