Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: The political prospects of Utah's favorite sons and stepsons

Published: Sunday, Feb. 20 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

Webb: To Utahns, Romney seems downright presidential, a mythical hero, while Huntsman was just a popular governor, a mere mortal. Also, Utahns aren't in the mood right now for a moderate Republican presidential candidate. They want someone who will go to Washington and do battle with the liberals, balance the budget and pay down the deficit. It's hard to see how Huntsman gets much traction in this election cycle. 2016 is his best bet if he can stay visible, or perhaps a hookup as a vice presidential prospect.

In response to a question about his presidential preferences, Gov. Gary Herbert, perhaps jokingly, suggested a Romney-Huntsman ticket. Although a number of Utahns have pondered the potential of such a ticket, is there a chance?

Webb: No. The two contenders don't much like each other. Two Mormon candidates don't make sense (even if Huntsman isn't "overly religious"). However, it's possible Huntsman could emerge as a viable running mate for some other GOP candidate.

Pignanelli: The best response is the adage regarding flying pigs. Yet, strip away references to religion and overabundant Utah connections, on paper the ticket is attractive. The men appeal to different but important constituencies within the country (Romney to traditionalists, Huntsman to the progressive GOP) and both offer a business perspective that will be popular in 2012. But for obvious reasons, the ticket is a dream (and an excellent dodge by Herbert to avoid answering uncomfortable questions).

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. E-mail: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. E-mail: frankp@xmission.com.

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