Romero clears way for Jones to keep Senate seat

Elections • The two senators had been thrown into the same district.
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Sen. Ross Romero has officially declared that he won't be back for another term in the Utah Senate and will focus on running for Salt Lake County mayor.

Romero sent a letter to the Lieutenant Governor's Office last week, indicating he would not run for the Senate seat.

Doing so means that Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay — whose district was combined with Romero's during redistricting last October — won't have to run for re-election until 2014. If Romero hadn't written the letter by Jan. 3, the seat would be up in this year's election.

"It would have been a very disruptive race. I just didn't think that was the best thing for the Senate Democrats or Utah Democrats," Romero said. "One of us had to leave, even though, by the way, we all wanted to stay."

Instead, he committed during the redistricting process to complete his term then run for Salt Lake County mayor.

"I started [the campaign] because of redistricting, but the more I've looked at it, the more I've thought about the ability to implement policy with an executive staff, the more excited I've [become]."

Sen. Ben McAdams, of Salt Lake City, is also seeking the Democratic nomination for county mayor. McAdams isn't up for election until 2014.

Romero and Jones met with Democratic delegates last week to explain the coming change and their priorities for the upcoming legislative session, which begins Jan. 23.

Twitter: @RobertGehrke