Anyone who meets state Sen. Greg Bell is immediately struck by his affable nature, his intellect and his knack for bringing people together.
It sounds like the perfect mix of attributes for Utah's next lieutenant governor, doesn't it?
On Wednesday morning, incoming Gov. Gary Herbert named Bell, the Senate assistant majority whip, as his choice for lieutenant governor. If the U.S. Senate confirms Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. as ambassador to China this week, Herbert could be sworn in as governor as soon as Tuesday, Aug. 11. Once he takes office, Herbert can officially nominate Bell as lieutenant governor. Bell's selection must be confirmed by the Utah Senate, but it is largely a formality because he enjoys broad support from Republicans and Democrats alike.
Bell, who has been at the forefront of legislative ethics reform efforts, was elected to the Utah Senate in 2002. A lawyer and a real estate developer, Bell is recognized as one of Utah's premier real estate attorneys. He also served as the mayor of Farmington for eight years, as a Farmington city councilman for four years and was chairman of Envision Utah, a well-respected land use and transportation planning organization.
Herbert said he chose Bell because he complements his strengths. As Herbert put it, "I'm not looking for someone who is a clone of myself."
Bell, who resides in Fruit Heights, is considered a moderate Republican. The conservative Eagle Forum pressured Herbert to select someone other than Bell over concerns about his support of benefits for gay and other nontraditional couples. Bell backed Amendment 3, which banned gay marriage in Utah. He does not support civil unions.
In some respects, Herbert's selection of Bell sent a message to the far-right wing of the Republican party that the Herbert-Bell administration would serve all Utahns rather than bend to special interests. One lawmaker went so far as to suggest that the Eagle Forum's active opposition of Bell may have sealed his selection.
The pick was made, of course, with an eye on the 2010 election, during which Bell plans to run with Herbert. Herbert enjoys considerable support among conservatives, and Bell would garner more support among moderate Republicans and, possibly, Democrats.
More important, Herbert's selection of Bell demonstrates how Herbert recognizes that many public policy issues are complex in nature, and that reasonable and thoughtful public servants can bring different approaches and considerations to the table. That serves the public best.
Bell is a fine choice for Utah's next lieutenant governor. We congratulate Herbert for selecting such a sage and capable solon for this very important position and look forward to having two fine statesmen at the helm of the Beehive State.