SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Olene Walker (search), Utah's first female governor, will seek a full term in November, she announced Saturday.
"There are still things that need to be done in Utah," Walker told reporters at a news conference in her Capitol office. "We need a little more time to complete the task."
Walker, 73, became governor in November when she automatically succeeded Gov. Mike Leavitt (search) following his appointment to head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (search). She served as Leavitt's lieutenant governor for 11 years.
It didn't take long for the Republican governor to cross members of her own party.
Walker swept into office with an ambitious proposal for education funding, proposing a nearly $116 million addition to the state's $2.1 billion education budget. She also offered a state budget that would divert money from once-sacred road funds to pay for an increase in education money, which lawmakers implacably resisted.
Though considered by many Capitol observers as a shrewd politician, Walker has radiated a folksy public persona and a playful sense of humor.
Asked repeatedly how her husband of 49 years, Myron, would be addressed, Walker suggested the state could save money by simply scratching off the "y" on the first lady's office downstairs from hers in the Capitol. The gold lettering on the door later read, "Programs of the First Lad."
Walker joins an already crowded field of gubernatorial candidates.
GOP hopefuls include former U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen, businessman Fred Lampropoulos, House Speaker Marty Stephens, industrialist Jon Huntsman Jr., state Board of Regents Chairman Nolan Karras, Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert, and State Sen. Parley Hellewell. University of Utah law school dean Scott Matheson Jr. is seeking the Democratic nomination.