This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Just before Utah's Tuesday caucuses, Gov. Gary Herbert endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for president.

"Sen. Cruz is our best hope to have the best person in the Oval Office who can reverse what I think is a disappointing trend with our federal government," Herbert said at a Monday news conference.

Cruz, he added, exhibits "the constitutional values, the conservative values that reflect Utah."

Herbert said he is confident Cruz will join in an effort with Herbert as chairman of the National Governors Association in "pushing back on the constant overreach of the federal government."

The Utah governor said that overreach has "created dysfunctionality in Washington, D.C. They have taken on more responsibility than our Founding Fathers ever envisioned and it's led to a $19 trillion debt."

Herbert had often said that he leaned toward supporting a fellow governor in the presidential race, but opted against endorsing Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

He said "Kasich is a good man. And he has great experience. Again, I have been partial to governors."

But, Herbert said, "I am also a practical Republican. I see here in Utah … that the best opportunity we have to put the best man in office is Senator Cruz."

He explained that is, in part, because of rules about how Utah Republicans will split national convention delegates after their votes Tuesday.

If one GOP candidate wins more than a majority of the votes, he will receive all 40 of Utah's delegates. Otherwise, candidates split delegates based on the proportion of the vote they receive.

Herbert said it's important that someone besides Donald Trump win all 40 votes and keep the billionaire businessman from winning any, and Cruz has the best chance of that. Winning all of Utah's delegates "is important. I think it's a catalyst; it will be a boost for Senator Cruz."

Herbert noted that former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney reached the same conclusion when he announced Friday that he would vote for Cruz: "I will join with Mitt Romney in voting for Ted Cruz."

Herbert said he did not endorse Trump, "because I don't think he's the best person for the job. It's a matter of putting the best person who can be elected into the Oval Office, and I don't think Donald Trump is that person."

When asked whether he would vote for Trump if he wins the GOP nomination, Herbert said, "Let's hope that doesn't have to be my decision."

When asked whether Utah would vote Democratic if Trump is the GOP nominee — as some polling suggests — Herbert wasn't convinced.

"It's way too early to make those decisions," he said. "I think there is a lot of emotion out there, and reaction to that emotion. … I think this is a conservative Republican state, and I expect it will vote Republican."

State Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, the Utah campaign chairman for Kasich, saw Herbert's decision to back Cruz as a move to appease the far right during an election year — and came after Herbert introduced Kasich at a Friday rally in Kaysville.

"I understand that Gov. Herbert is in an election year and must deal with the dynamic of facing a Republican convention that has many strongly conservative voters who may be currently supporting Ted Cruz," Powell said. "I don't think that represents a majority of mainstream Utah Republicans."

Powell also disagrees with Herbert's political analysis and says Kasich is more likely than Cruz to win many upcoming states — so he needs to remain in the race to stop Trump.

"The most effective strategy to stop Donald Trump," Powell said, "is simply not to vote for Donald Trump, and also to keep John Kasich in the race."

Meanwhile, the Kasich campaign announced four new Utah-based endorsements for the Ohio governor Monday — from former six-term U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon, state Sens. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, and Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, and from St. George Mayor Jon Pike.

Cannon said he served in Congress with Kasich, and "we haven't had a balanced federal budget since he was chair of the budget committee, and we won't have one again anytime soon if we don't elect John."

Kasich issued a statement thanking them, adding, "We expect a strong finish in Utah tomorrow."

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