Pioneer Day is a terrific holiday, providing all Utahns the opportunity to celebrate old pioneering and new pioneering in our state. Trouble is, we couldn't think of a good Pioneer Day angle for a political column so we're falling back on the shameless gimmick of answering questions that enquiring minds want to know.

Will Rep. Steve Urquhart file for re-election to the Legislature if his campaign against Sen. Orrin Hatch stumbles before the end of the year?

Pignanelli: Republicans will not contribute to Urquhart unless he is totally committed. The St. George politicos who are interested in filling his legislative seat will not tolerate backsliding. Urquhart's political reputation is dependent upon a perception that his challenge to Hatch, if not successful, is at least credible. He has to stay to the end.

Webb: This is an incredibly difficult race for Urquhart, but I think he'll feel enough support to stay in through the filing deadline and convention. Win or lose, he'll be out of the Legislature.

How much will Hatch benefit from the nomination process of John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Pignanelli: With Urquhart nipping at his heels, Hatch will utilize every opportunity to bolster support among right-wing special-interest groups. For the next several months, Americans will experience the senator soldiering in behalf of the president and conservative faithful on every network and cable program that will have him (perhaps even the Food Channel).

Webb: Hatch will get a boost as the point person fighting the nomination battle. But it's a long campaign season ahead and he needs to win some fights for Utah, such as keeping high-level nuclear waste out.

Was Brigham Young a Democrat or Republican?

Pignanelli: He was a dynamic individual who possessed extraordinary charisma to lead battered refugees into the American desert in pursuit of a home. Young created a society that ensured the care and feeding of all its members. His urban planning mandated efficient street patterns, parks and open spaces. Through his establishment of the University of Deseret (predecessor to the "U."), he was the first Ute fan. Sounds like a Democrat to me.

Webb: He railed against the federal intrusions, preached thrift, independence and high moral standards, and supported prayer in schools. A Republican all the way.

Will Utah-educated Karl Rove's backside feel the toe of President Bush's cowboy boot anytime soon?

Pignanelli: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forgot to establish a rational postwar strategy for Iraq and allowed the Abu Ghraib prison debacle — and still has his job. Rove is safe because in the Bush administration stupid actions and decisions are immune from negative presidential reaction (so long as you do not write a book about them).

Webb: Rove will easily survive because he broke no law and did the world a favor by exposing flaky political partisans posing as government officials.

Will Mitt Romney run for president?

Pignanelli: Yes. Having garnered wealth, recognition of his handsome features by People Magazine, fame through the Olympic Games and prestige as a GOP governor of Massachusetts, the U.S. presidency would be a nice addition to his resume.

Webb: It's a Pioneer Day miracle. Frank got one right.

Will Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. spend his enormous political capital?

Pignanelli: Yes, Utah needs Huntsman to utilize his popularity in enacting controversial but desired action in public education, transportation, etc. But if he doesn't spend his political capital soon, members of the Legislature will be more than happy to expend it for their purposes.

Webb: Huntsman does what he thinks is right and is unafraid to expend political capital. Trouble is, people expect the governor to tackle every political issue that exists, and no governor has that much capacity. He has to pick and choose his battles.

Will Mayor Rocky Anderson run for a third term?

Pignanelli: Absolutely (don't believe rumors to the contrary). Where else could Rocky get a job that allows him glamorous opportunities to schmooze with Robert Redford and European Union bigwigs while the City Council performs all the necessary grunt work to keep the city operating?

Webb: No. Rocky has moved on. The world is now his oyster. It beckons for him to resolve global warming and bring about social justice.

Will the state corporate income tax be eliminated as promised by the governor and many legislators?

Pignanelli: The talk on Capitol Hill is that this tax cut is in trouble while the flat tax method is gaining favor.

Webb: No. But it will be modified and significant tax reform will occur.

When will the Legacy Highway be completed?

Pignanelli: At approximately the same time that LaVarr Webb purchases an alternative fuel automobile, the road will be available for him and his fellow Davis County travelers: sometime mid-century. (I have doubts about the alleged resolution.)

Webb: It appears another lawsuit might be avoided, so the highway is coming soon. All the easier for more of us Davis County folks to drive into Salt Lake City in our F-350 V-10 pickups, Escalades, Hummers, Suburbans and Excursions (diesel-powered).

When will Utah Democrats become the majority party?

Pignanelli: Prominent Utahns are nervous they may be outcasts in a future Democratic presidential administration. Thus, there is a rumor (actually, more of a hope) that the LDS Church will soon activate a modified version of its late 19th-century policy of having bishops proclaim that the congregation sitting on one side of the chapel will be Democrats and those on the other side remain Republicans. Readers are encouraged to exercise thought in selecting their pew on Sunday mornings, otherwise they may lose the opportunity to experience enlightened conversion to Democrat status without retribution from Republican neighbors.

Webb: With Howard 'the scream' Dean as Democratic chairman, and Hillary Clinton as the party's next presidential nominee, it's going to be a long, long, long time.


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Republican LaVarr Webb was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. He now is a political consultant and lobbyist. E-mail: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. A former candidate for Salt Lake mayor, Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as House minority leader. Pignanelli's spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is executive director of the state Department of Administrative Services in the Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. administration. E-mail: nkp@xmission.com.