Retired U.S. Army Major General Peter Cooke was the Democratic Party nominee for governor of Utah in the 2012 election, but lost to the Republican incumbent, Gary Herbert. He says it was a surprise when church leaders asked him to be a mission president a few days ago. He doesn't yet know where he'll be assigned among the church's 350 missions worldwide, but he says his wife Heather and their four children are delighted with the opportunity to serve.
"They're all very excited about it and we're excited to be in such an exciting time," Cooke told KUER. "Because of all the young sisters that are signing up to the missionary program. It's just an exciting time to be part of a great, enthusiastic moment."
The number of young women applying to serve as LDS missionaries has gone up dramatically since the church dropped its age requirement from 21 to 19. For Mormon politicians in Utah, a calling as a mission president has often followed the end of their service or a lost election. Wayne Owens, Gunn McKay, Norm Bangerter and Dan Marriott are among those who served in that capacity.