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The jockeying to replace Attorney General John Swallow started even before he announced his resignation, and the field of candidates is likely to be crowded.

The Republican State Central Committee is scheduled to meet Dec. 14 to narrow the field, sending the names of three choices to Gov. Gary Herbert, who will pick one to serve as attorney general until a new one is elected in November 2014 and sworn in come January 2015.

The field is expected to include Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem; Sean Reyes, whom Swallow topped in a Republican primary last year; and Bret Rawson, an attorney who represents the Fraternal Order of Police and jailed businessman Mark Sessions Jenson, a key player in the Swallow scandal.

Others mentioned as possible candidates include state Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove; assistant attorney general Wade Faraway, state Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, and Morgan Philpot, a former state representative and congressional and gubernatorial candidate.

Democrats have said they may go to court to challenge the Republicans' right to pick Swallow's replacement. They say if Swallow violated campaign laws — as alleged — the election should be invalidated and the GOP should not have dibs on selecting his successor. Instead, they argue, there should be a special election.

"This is a critical issue," Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis said. "We risk an appointment tainted by corruption."

Robert Gehrke