A Possible Bennett Challenger Emerges

Republican David Leavitt, who ran for Congress last year last year, is planning for challenge Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) next year, Paul Rolly of the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

From the Tribune:
It appears that Leavitt will challenge Sen. Robert Bennett for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in 2010.

No, not that Leavitt.

David Leavitt, the former Juab County attorney best known for his successful prosecution of polygamist Tom Green, has been telling folks at the various Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinners this month that he plans to run for the Senate next year. That is a direct challenge to the incumbent Bennett, who will be seeking his fourth term.

David Leavitt, the brother of former Utah Gov. and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, ran for Congress last year, but was defeated at the State Republican Convention by then-incumbent Chris Cannon and eventual winner Jason Chaffetz. Earlier, David Leavitt was defeated in his bid for re-election as Juab County attorney.

Other Republicans mentioned as possible challengers to Bennett include Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Mike Lee, former counsel to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

Shurtleff has made it to most of Lincoln Day events so far, as has Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, who's expected to be a candidate for governor in 2012. In fact, when Shurtleff was the keynote speaker at the Salt Lake County Lincoln Day Dinner last week, Herbert, who also was slated to speak, went about 17 minutes beyond his alloted three minutes. That led to speculation Herbert might be viewing Shurtleff as a possible opponent for the gubernatorial nomination in four years.

Notably absent at all the Republican events this year has been Huntsman. Some speculate he hasn't attended the political dinners for fear of being heckled for his pro-civil union stance for gay couples. That is a pretty unpopular position to take in the Utah Republican Party.

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com

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