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Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams announces bid for Senate presidency

Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, speaks at a press conference launching the Utah Department of Transportation’s I-15 Technology Corridor construction project at the Rain office in Lehi on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. The Layton Republican announced in a letter
Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, speaks at a press conference launching the Utah Department of Transportation’s I-15 Technology Corridor construction project at the Rain office in Lehi on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. The Layton Republican announced in a letter to colleagues Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, that he is running for president of the Utah Senate.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, announced in a letter to colleagues Tuesday that he is running for president of the Senate, a post being vacated by retiring Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy.

"The Senate has developed a proud reputation of working in a transparent, collaborative and deliberative way and, if elected president, I am committed to continuing that approach," Adams said in the letter.

He is the first candidate to declare he is seeking the top role in the Senate, although Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, is said to be considering a run. Bramble previously served as the Senate majority leader.

Adams said in an interview he did not anticipate making many changes should he be chosen by the majority caucus, expected to make a decision on a new president on the Thursday after the Nov. 6 election.

"Generally speaking, it will be much of the same," he said, promising to set legislative priorities with the help of the GOP caucus. Republicans hold a supermajority in both the Senate and House.

Adams, once on Gov. Gary Herbert's shortlist to become lieutenant governor, has served as majority whip for six years. He said his strength as a lawmaker is his ability to bring people together to find common ground.

As an example of that, Adams citied his sponsorship in 2015 of legislation that provided protections for religious freedom while prohibiting workplace and housing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Utahns.

"I have a passion for trying to make a difference," he said, noting he was encouraged to run by several colleagues and has the support of at least some members of the Senate's Democratic minority.

Adams said he sent the letter announcing his candidacy to all senators, not just Republicans.

The term of a Senate president is two years. Niederhauser, who is not seeking re-election to the Legislature after three terms in office, was first elected to lead the Senate in 2012.

Also set to be vacant is the House speakership.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, is also not running for re-election this year. No candidates have announced their intention to run, but House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, is seen as possibly being unopposed for the post.

Both Republicans and Democrats the House and Senate will fill other leadership positions after the November election, including majority and minority leaders, whips and assistant whips.

Later Tuesday, Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, announced in a letter to his Senate colleagues that he is running for majority leader, saying, "It is imperative that the actions of our leadership team be fair, honest and always above reproach."

Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, had served as majority leader until earlier this year, when because of health issues he was replaced by Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal. Van Tassell is not seeking re-election to the Senate.