In neighboring Utah, another top official made the surprise announcement that he will not seek reelection. Gov. Norman H. Bangerter (R) announced he will not run for a third term in 1992, saying he always had seen the job as "an eight-year commitment."
Bangerter's decision sets the stage for "the most wide-open election year any of us can remember," state GOP chairman Richard Snelgrove said. "It will be a free-for-all."
Bangerter, 57, was elected in 1984 -- after serving 10 years in the Utah House -- over Wayne Owens, ending 20 years of Democratic control of the governorship. He was reelected in 1988 in a come-from-behind victory over former Salt Lake City mayor Ted Wilson (D).
Bangerter's job approval rating dropped sharply after he pushed a record $168 million tax increase through the legislature in 1987. His rating climbed after his reelection, but in August, a Deseret News-KSL-TV poll showed Bangerter's popularity had fallen from 61 percent in December 1989 to 56 percent. His disapproval rating of 41 percent in the survey was the highest of any of the state's elected officials.
Bangerter was criticized earlier this year for vowing to defend the state against a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to ban prayers at public high school graduations. In October, he also raised the possibility of tax increases to deal with a Utah Supreme Court decision that a state minerals company had been taxed inequitably.
"Someone once told me that politics is dependent on a never-ending supply of people who don't know what they're in for," Bangerter said at a news conference at in Salt Lake City. "After six years, I know too well."