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Sheriff endorses challenger Gray in Utah County Attorney race

By Kelcie Hartley - | May 19, 2022

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Jeff Gray speaks during the 2022 Utah County Republican Convention on Saturday, April 9, 2022. The convention was held at Cedar Valley High School in Eagle Mountain. Gray is one of three candidates who will be on the primary ballot to be Utah County attorney.

Late Tuesday, Assistant Utah Solicitor General Jeff Gray’s campaign team announced an endorsement in his race for Utah County Attorney. The endorsement from Sheriff Mike Smith and touts his connection to all the candidates in the race — Gray, Adam Pomeroy and current Utah County Attorney David Leavitt.

Smith strongly voiced his disapproval of Leavitt in his opening statement of the endorsement letter.

“For the security, safety, and well-being of Utah County citizens, for the safety of our children, we MUST NOT re-elect David Leavitt,” Smith wrote. “But we must do more than vote against him, we MUST elect the right person. I know all three candidates for County Attorney well, I have worked with all three, and I know their differences.”

Leavitt said he was not surprised when he discovered Smith’s endorsement of his Gray ahead of the June 28 Republican primary.

“It’s expected,” said Leavitt. “The sheriff and I have different perspectives on criminal justice and Jeff Gray meets the Sheriff’s perspective. My view is we need to take criminal justice in a different direction. The endorsement of my opponent doesn’t surprise me.”

Also in the race is Deputy Attorney Adam Pomeroy, who has worked for the county for seven years. Smith’s statement mentioned his backing of Gray was partly because of his exerience. Gray has been a prosecutor for 31 years, and with the Utah Attorney General’s Office for 27 years, according to the release. He has experience representing the state on felony appeals ranging from drug and property crimes to sexual assaults, child sexual abuse, child pornography and homicides.

Gray has previously stated he doesn’t share the incumbent’s stance against pursuing the death penalty.

“Sheriff Smith has been vocal about his belief that the current County Attorney, David Leavitt, has been derelict in his duty including his refusal to seek the death penalty in even the most egregious cases,” reads the release.

Gray previously told the Daily Herald that  Leavitt’s decision not to pursue the death penalty was a “violation of his oath.”

He has repeatedly stated that law enforcement and prosecutors are on the same team, and should be working towards keeping crime-committing people accountable for their actions.

“That’s part of the problem in Utah County,” reads the release. “The current County Attorney has an adversarial view toward the Sheriff’s Office, that is not a culture that works to keep our County safe.”

Gray’s campaign manager did not respond to a request for comment.

Leavitt said his campaign tactics remain unfazed by the endorsement announcement and doesn’t believe this will impact his race.

“Sheriff Smith made it clear early on that he supports my opponent,” he said. “My two opponents kind of share the same sort of philosophy. So, voters are going to have a choice, but the announcement doesn’t surprise me.”


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