Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Are Utah's GOP leaders now in jeopardy?

Published: Sunday, March 20 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Webb: Despite the Salt Lake Tribune's front-page, name-calling, personal vendetta against him, Herbert is Utah's most popular politician. His immigration positions are supported by a very high percentage of citizens. Thanks to him, there is time and a process to redraft the GRAMA legislation and reach a reasonable solution. Utah's financial affairs are in order. Utah's economy is poised to boom. Mainstream Utahns would be guilty of criminal neglect if they allow a small cadre of far-right activists to defeat him in convention. He deserves praise, not criticism, and Utah voters will support him in 2012.

Right-wing organizations have filed a referendum to repeal HB477. Can it succeed?

Pignanelli: To place a referendum on the ballot, supporters only need to garner 10 percent of the registered voters in 15 counties (a light obstacle), but within 40 days (a terrible challenge). With the support of larger- and small-town newspapers in rural counties, the enthusiastic activists could very well succeed.

Webb: Not a chance in the world. Gathering nearly 100,000 signatures in such a short time is nearly impossible without an army of paid field staffers. Much larger and better-organized groups have tried and failed.

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 a 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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