Utah's Gary Herbert is one of the most popular governors in the country. Republicans adore him in his heavily conservative state. Yet one wealthy Republican is planning to take him on—and Utah's most prominent GOP strategist, Dave Hansen, has joined the effort.
Hansen, a former state party chairman, has spent recent years promoting the Utah GOP establishment. He helped Sen. Orrin Hatch navigate his 2012 primary and managed Mia Love's successful House bid, one of national Republicans' top target races in the country, in 2014. Now, Hansen has signed on to manage the gubernatorial campaign of Overstock.com chairman Jonathan Johnson, who would have to unseat Herbert in the GOP primary.
Hansen said he has nothing against Herbert but a desire for change grounded in his belief that governors should not serve more than two terms, which Herbert hasn't technically done yet. Herbert became governor in 2009 when then-Gov. Jon Huntsman resigned to become the U.S. ambassador to China.
"Do I think that Utah's been doing well? Yes. Do I think it's been because of who was serving in the governor's office? I don't know necessarily that's true," Hansen said. "I think that the legislature, I think the entrepreneurs and the business people in the community probably have a greater responsibility for the economic stability that we have here in this state. And I think that Jonathan can continue to make sure that Utah prospers, and I think with some new ideas and some fresh ideas will help."