Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Utah politics is full of questions heading into 2012

Published: Sunday, July 31 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Matheson's maverick style is so enjoyed by Utahns, that he is a formidable statewide force. But Matheson understands Utahns love to use the ballot box to send "messages" to D.C. — regardless of affection for a candidate — and 2012 is a likely message year. Redistricting will substantially drive his ultimate decision. A fair result will prompt a return to the House. An obvious gerrymander pushes him to higher office — what does have to lose?

State Sen. Dan Liljenquist is well known in political circles for accomplishing the "unaccomplishable". Many are pushing him to consider a run against Hatch or against Herbert. Does the respected senator offer his abilities at a different level, or keep them available at the State House (until 2016 at least)?

Pignanelli: Liljenquist is the ideal public servant who cares more about solving problems than throwing partisan bombs. But he is less well known than the other major contenders and should have initiated a campaign early to catch up. Liljenquist is likely to remain a state senator (Utah is lucky) and move to higher office later in the decade (the feds would be lucky).

Webb: It's an immense task to organize statewide in preparation for March 2012 party caucuses. Liljenquist is already late. With a young family, and with Chaffetz and Hatch far ahead in organizational infrastructure, Liljenquist will likely sit this one out and prepare for 2016.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: 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. Email: frankp@xmission.com

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