Just weeks after accepting Governing’s Public Officials of the Year award for reforming Utah’s pension system, Sen. Dan Liljenquist has resigned during his first term -- a move that many speculate is because he plans to run for Congress.
The Deseret News reported that in a letter to Utah Senate President Michael Waddoups, Liljenquist reportedly wrote, “It’s been a great honor. I’ve worked hard, and we’ve gotten some good things done," and "Life is short. It’s time to move on.”
Liljenquist told the Deseret News that he won’t confirm whether he’s running against six-term U.S. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch until January. As of now, Hatch faces no Republican competition for his seat. The Republican state senator with strong Tea Party support did not return calls to Governing.
Hatch’s campaign manager, Dave Hansen, told the Salt Lake Tribune that Liljenquist has indicated several times that he was leaning toward a Senate run.
“It’s too bad he didn’t honor his commitment to the people of his state Senate district to complete his term there, his first and only term," Hansen told the Tribune. In Utah, however, legislators can’t collect campaign funding during the legislative session, and Liljenquist has reportedly said before that he would resign if he were to run for Senate.
This afternoon, DanLiljenquist.com was redirecting to the site ItsTimeUtah.com, featuring nothing but the words “It’s Time.” Shortly after this reporter was redirected to "It's Time" just after noon Eastern time, DanLiljenquist.com reverted back to a landing page that leads to his positions on state and national issues. The "It's Time" page is still online and accessible.
Liljenquist’s resignation was effective Thursday night. His replacement should be in office by the start of the state’s 2012 legislation session on Jan. 23.