Gregg Lassen was the first in line early Tuesday to declare his Democratic candidacy against Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt.

Lassen's wife and two of his three children were there. His youngest, Kelsey, played with his hair while he answered questions as part of an oath given by Lt. Gov. Olene Walker. Are you 30 years old? Have you been resident of Utah for five years?

But Lassen, who announced his candidacy about a month ago, has not been a resident of Utah for five years, and nearly as soon as he had filled out the paperwork, Democratic Party officials pulled the candidacy for the energy company executive.

"He would have been an excellent candidate and we're going to run him in the future," said Megan Holbrook, chairwoman of the Utah Democratic Party. "We misinterpreted the residency requirements for the office of governor, which are different than for other offices."

View Comments

A one-page biography handed out at Tuesday's event, which kicked off the beginning of candidate filing for the year 2000 in the State Elections Office, talks about the Lassen family priorities and how a search for the ideal place to raise their children led the family to Utah.

"We arrived from Hong Kong on Pioneer Day in 1997, and as the plane descended into Salt Lake City, the fireworks were going off," the statement reads.

After taking the oath with Walker, Lassen disappeared into a state office with party officials and emerged to tell reporters he had overlooked the residency requirement but that he loves Utah and has made a professional commitment to raise his family in the state. He also will remain active in the Democratic Party, he said.

Holbrook ran up to the Utah Attorney General's Office to see if there was anything the office could do. There wasn't. Party officials said Lassen was the first choice to run against the popular Leavitt, but there is another candidate in the wings.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.