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Leavitt gets No. 2 spot in governors association

Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt is already sure he will win at least one big election for the year 2000.

He was just selected as the new vice chairman of the National Governors Association for 1998-99, and will take office this summer."That means I will be the chairman the next year," in 1999-2000, when many politicians will be running for president - and when Leavitt faces possible re-election as governor.

Leavitt said, "Typically what happens is that one year Republicans nominate a vice chairman, and Democrats nominate one the next year. That way, parties rotate the chairmanship."

He added that he didn't campaign for the position - which can have a high profile as states negotiate with the federal government on a variety of issues.

"It was not a contested race," he said. "I was asked by a group of my colleagues to consider this some time ago. And I told them I would accept it."

Leavitt is no stranger to leading such groups. He is also the past leader of such organizations as the Western Governors Association, the Council of State Government and the Republican Governors Association.

He also headed the Republican Governors Association when Republicans won back both houses of Congress and lead highly publicized discussions with their leaders about returning more power to the states.