Sean Reyes has never been a prosecutor, nor has he worked in a government law office. He's never been a county attorney or assistant D.A. He's not got political name recognition and he has never held elected office. So why would we endorse him to be the Republican nominee for Utah's next attorney general?
He's only 41, yet he worked in one of Salt Lake City's big downtown law firms, Parsons Behle & Latimer, for 15 years, making partner. He has litigated major cases, and has abundant trial experience. But most important, he's a lawyer, not a politician. Think Scott Matheson Sr.
Utah's attorney general is elected, so, by definition, he has to be a politician. But first and foremost he should be an experienced lawyer, and, you would hope, a guy who has fought in the courtroom trenches. Reyes fills that bill.
It also helps that he's worked in a big law firm, because, after all, the A.G.'s office is the state's biggest law firm. The attorneys there represent the state's many agencies. It does a boatload of civil work as well as criminal, and the lawyers there are specialists. The A.G. should be someone who has experience in a big, diverse shop.
It helps that Reyes is articulate and has a keen mind. If you were interviewing him for a job, he'd be one of the candidates you would automatically call back for the next round. He's got innovative ideas for the office, such as attracting bright, hungry young lawyers from private firms with internships that would allow them to gain trial experience sitting second or third chair with an experienced lead attorney.
He's conservative, but not dogmatic. He opposes Obamacare and believes that the federal government over-reaches in its regulation. But his explanations for those positions aren't simplistic slogans. On federal lands, for example, he concedes that it will be an uphill climb for the state to assert sovereignty, and that it will take congressional pressure from Western states to succeed. But he thinks that litigation can help Utah's cause.
He's not a Utah native, but he has the cultural bona fides: graduated from BYU, taught at the Missionary Training Center.
His opponent, former Utah legislator John Swallow, is a politician first, though he has lawyered for payday lending and dietary supplements outfits. He is current A.G. Mark Shurtleff's chief civil deputy and designated successor. He even managed his boss's U.S. Senate campaign. But three terms of Shurtleff were enough, and extending that reign with Swallow is not a good idea. It's time for new management, and Sean Reyes would provide it.