POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Here’s who’s running — and not running — in the race to replace Utah AG Sean Reyes

Dec 12, 2023, 6:48 PM | Updated: 7:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The race to replace Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes heated up Tuesday, as former GOP Chairman Derek Brown announced a bid for the seat in 2024.

“My decision was not based on (Reyes’). My decision was based on the decision that my family and I came to,” Brown told KSL TV.

His run comes four days after Reyes released a lengthy video revealing he would not seek another term. Reyes is facing a civil lawsuit for allegedly intimidating a witness and lingering questions over his ties to the embattled charity Operation Underground Railroad, and its founder, Tim Ballard.

A chance to serve

Brown said he sees the AG role an opportunity to serve.

“To step up to that role, provide a new vision and direction for the office, and then from there, step out or let someone else step in,” he said.

Brown said if elected, he only wants to run for re-election once. He also addressed his work with the lobbying firm Lincoln Hill partners. Brown said that as a lawyer, he represents, and is an advocate, for his clients — whomever they may be.

“I provide legal analysis, and that’s part of what it means to be an advocate,” Brown said. “So, I am an advocate. As the Attorney General, I would be the advocate for one client, and that one client would be the state of Utah.”

Brown was also asked if he would accept an endorsement from Reyes, if Reyes were to give it.

“I have no idea at this point,” he said. “I don’t know what he wants to do. And you can certainly ask him what it is that he intends to do.”

Brown said that the role of the AG is to defend its one and only client — Utah.

“The Attorney General’s Office is the largest law firm in the state of Utah. And what it does is it makes sure that the state of Utah and the state government functions efficiently and that it protects our citizens. There’s a really important component in terms of working with county attorneys as well to make sure that the counties are sufficiently given the backup and the support that they need,” he said.

Brown also said he’ll defend Utah against what he called the “overreach” of the federal government.

Other names jumping in?

Other Republican names rumored to be running? State Sen. Dan McCay, R-District 18, did not respond to calls for comment. Utah’s Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak told KSL TV she is not running.

Brown already has the backing of former Gov. Gary Herbert.

Why former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is backing a new candidate for AG after appointing Sean Reyes

The Democrats

But the Democrats aren’t sold. They haven’t said who will run for their party but did issue a statement.

“Even though Sean Reyes has announced he won’t run for re-election, it’s clear that the Republican party cannot be trusted with the Attorney General’s office. After decades of corruption from GOP Attorneys General, Utahns deserve a competent and ethical leader in that office, and that is the choice that we will be offering voters next year,” said the Utah Democratic Party Communications Director, Ben Anderson.

State Rep. Andrew Stoddard, D-District 40, says he’s not sure a Democrat can win against Brown.

Perhaps, the most high-profile Democratic attorney in Utah — Salt Lake County’s District Attorney Sim Gill. He said he’s flattered that his name has been talked about to run, but signaled he isn’t likely to jump in.

“This is probably the greatest job that I have,” he said. “So, I’m very happy, very content with where I am. And there’s a lot of work that that I want to still do where I am.”

The filing deadline for candidates starts Jan. 2, 2024 and will run through Jan. 8, 2024.

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Here’s who’s running — and not running — in the race to replace Utah AG Sean Reyes