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WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Hansen says he hears that some potential candidates seeking to replace him might be claiming that he has endorsed them. He says it isn't so.

"I will not endorse any candidate until we have a Republican nominee," Hansen, R-Utah, said Wednesday. "I won't endorse anyone in the primary" or state convention, he said.

An interesting test of that pledge, however, would be if his son, Joe, runs for his seat. Hansen acknowledges that his son has expressed interest in it.

Hansen's surprise announcement last week that he won't seek re-election this year and will retire after 22 years in the House, set off a mad dash in both parties with numerous politicians testing the campaign waters about replacing him.

Because of conflicting talk that he has endorsed some, he issued a statement, and gave an interview, saying he has not and will not endorse anyone until the party chooses a nominee.

"I'm happy to meet with any of them and give them advice. I don't know how much it's worth, but it's free," Hansen told the Deseret News.

But the statement he issued said, "When a Republican nominee is finally chosen, either in convention or in the primary election, they will probably then have my full support.

"In the meantime, I reiterate that I am not endorsing any Republican candidate who has indicated an interest in running," he said.

Republicans might also have some financial reasons for courting Hansen's support. At midyear, Hansen had $164,851 in cash on hand for a re-election run — and has raised more since then (year-end reports are not due for another two weeks). Hansen could spend that any way he desires, including designating chunks of it for the Republican who runs to replace him.

E-MAIL: lee@desnews.com