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Tuesday, June 28, 2005
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Matheson leaving U. law post

Former candidate for governor keeping future options open

By Lisa Riley Roche and Bob Bernick Jr.
Deseret Morning News

      Former Democratic candidate for governor Scott Matheson Jr. has announced he's stepping down a year from now as the dean of the University of Utah law school.
Scott Matheson
      "It's a logical time," Matheson, 51, said. "Quite frankly, I'm ready to look at doing some other things. My current plan is to go back to being a full-time law professor but I'll keep my eyes and ears open and we'll see where things go."
      Does that mean he'll be ready to make another run for public office?
      "I always leave my options open," he said.
      Matheson, the son of Utah's most recent Democratic governor, ran a well-regarded campaign against Republican Jon Huntsman Jr., losing the race 56 percent to 43 percent.
      It's not clear what Matheson's political future would be.
      He considered challenging U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, years ago but never entered the race. Hatch is up for re-election in 2006, although a well-financed Democrat, XMission founder Pete Ashdown, has already declared his candidacy.
      Huntsman's first term as governor ends in 2008, but he has already said he'll run for a second.
      And there's already speculation that the Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, will retire when his term ends in 2008. Still, no Utah Democrat has won a U.S. Senate race since 1970.
      Matheson said that after the 2004 election, he hadn't decided how long he wanted to continue as dean. "I hadn't reached any conclusions until I returned and was able to think through what was best for the school and what I'm interested in doing," he said.
      He did not announce his intentions until after the end of the school year.
      When Matheson leaves the post a year from now, he will have served eight years as dean. Figuring into his decision, he said, is that the law school is set to launch a major fund-raising campaign for a new building that will take at least five years to be completed.
      Matheson said it will be up to his successor to see the project through. In a letter to his law school colleagues sent earlier this month, he said he wished "to pursue other interests and challenges . . . ."
      He also told his colleagues in the letter that he was "proud of what we have accomplished during my time as dean. The school continues to improve and move forward."
      Matheson's predecessor, Lee Teitelbaum, also served eight years.
      In the coming year, Matheson said, there will be a national search for his replacement.


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