- Associated Press - Monday, April 11, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Latest on a debate between Go. Gary Herbert and GOP challenger Jonathan Johnson (all times local):

9:50 a.m.

Gov. Gary Herbert says it would be reckless to file a longshot lawsuit now to seize control of public lands from the federal government, defending his actions against criticism from GOP challenger Jonathan Johnson.

The issue of federal lands that account for two-thirds of Utah took center stage during a debate Monday in Salt Lake City between Herbert and Johnson.

Johnson, chairman of the board at Overstock.com, said he would bring the lawsuit if he becomes governor. He called it a crucial issue for rural Utah and criticized Herbert for not authorizing a lawsuit that could cost as much as $14 million.

Herbert countered that it’s a complex issue and that that he has been advised him not to sue until a Republican is President.

Herbert signed a law in 2012 demanding the federal government hand over the lands to Utah by the end of 2014. When that deadline quietly passed, Utah legislators began weighing a possible lawsuit.

This story has been corrected to show the first name of Republican gubernatorial is candidate Jonathan Johnson, not Jonathon.

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8:55 a.m.

Gov. Gary Herbert and challenger Jonathan Johnson are set to square off Monday in a key debate that comes less than two weeks before party delegates will choose the Republican candidate at the state convention.

Herbert has been governor since 2009. He is touting the state’s strong economy and solid education system as reasons he deserves to be re-elected.

Johnson is the chairman of the board at Overstock.com. He’s promoting plans to improve the state’s education system and make Utah less reliant on federal funding.

The Utah Republican convention is April 23.

Herbert has gathered signatures to earn a place on the ballot for a June 28 primary election if he loses at the convention.

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