She served as lieutenant governor of Utah for eleven years until Governor Mike Levitt left Utah to head the Environmental Protection Agency. On 05 Nov 2003, she was sworn in as the first woman to serve as governor of Utah. In 2004, she failed in her bid to win the Republican nomination for governor of Utah. It was the first time a standing Utah governor failed to win a party nomination in 48 years. She did not decide to seek a full term as governor until March, long after her rivals had established their campaigns.