Inside Sources: Don’t wait, start planning to assume role of governor, Leavitt tells two candidates

Aug 31, 2020, 6:12 PM

Picture by Chris Samuels, KSL file

SALT LAKE CITY — Don’t wait until after the election to begin plans to lead Utah and deliver on the promises made during the campaign, former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt advised the two gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Chris Peterson and Republican Spencer Cox.

Leavitt knows how difficult and exhilarating the transition to power can be, but it’s best to pass the baton of leadership seamlessly, with no loss of momentum.

Leavitt joined Boyd Matheson on Inside Sources to discuss the importance of planning and executing promised commitments during the transitioning of power.

Don’t wait on the plan to lead

The former governor said there just isn’t enough time to stand up a new administration between Election Day and a new president’s inauguration — about 70 days.

In the past, it appeared to be excessively presumptive for a campaign to plan for assuming power before the results of a presidential election were announced, Leavitt said.

“It took place in the shadows,” he said. “People were afraid to bring it up because it looked like they were measuring for drapes in the Oval Office.”

In his Deseret News opinion piece, Leavitt writes:

“In order to help the transitions go smoothly, nominees create transition teams. Prior to 2010, when Congress passed the Presidential Transition Act, presidential candidates were reluctant to begin serious planning until after the November election because of the concern that it would appear presumptive. The Presidential Transition Act addressed the concern by creating a legal obligation for the nominees of each major political party to create a transition team. The act also provided access to government office space and government agencies to provide security clearances and other critical functions. Now, beginning in the late spring of each presidential election, every viable campaign begins the formidable task of preparing to assume leadership of our country.”

In 2012, Leavitt led the transition team for then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the first campaign to implement the Presidential Transition Act. 

“I learned a lot from that experience and came to fully appreciate how important it is. It’s not just a time of opportunity but a time of great vulnerability in any kind of government where there is a transition of power,” he said.

With a global pandemic raging and a US economy struggling to get back on its feet, this may be as complicated as any time for any governor-elect facing a loss of revenue to assume power in Utah, he added.

Delivering on promises made

“Elections are an important time because it’s the moment in which a person makes commitments on what they’re going to do as an executive officeholder,” Leavitt said. 

The transition team is about implementing the candidate’s commitments once he or she assumes power.

“When people run for governor, they make very serious commitments — commitments that have an impact on the lives of every single person who lives here,” the former governor said. “These are not just large-scale promises. They’re things we’re going to deliver on. Things that you deliver on, you have plans for. And plans then have to be executed. So putting a team together, keeping track of what the candidate has committed to do, being ready on Day One to begin to implement — all of those things are important. 

“In the lifecycle of new governors, the first legislative session, the first 200 days — there’s a sense of not just opportunity but expectation that that’s when change will begin to occur. That can’t happen unless good planning has been done,” Leavitt said.


Read Leavitt’s opinion piece in the Deseret News.

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 11:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

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Inside Sources: Don’t wait, start planning to assume role of governor, Leavitt tells two candidates