Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Was Utah's redistricting process fair and open?

Published: Sunday, Oct. 23 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Pignanelli: Matheson is popular with most Utahns — who respect his independent and thoughtful manner — and would be a strong contender for any office. Although Matheson will not have the benefit of all east Salt Lake County, south Davis County often elects moderate Republicans to the Legislature — a dynamic that may attract him to seek reelection to the 2nd District.

Webb: Matheson should run in the new 2nd District because it has the same Republican/Democratic mix as his old district, and it doesn't have Utah County. Repeat: IT DOESN'T HAVE UTAH COUNTY. Matheson can do OK most anywhere but Utah County, the state's second largest county. He can't win statewide because Utah County will defeat him. Utah County is where good Democratic candidates go to die. Signs along the border say, "Democrats: Enter Herein and Political Death Quickly Ensues."

Matheson's new district certainly does have a lot of new voters to him. But because Utah comprises just one media market, Matheson is well-known across the state and his approval rating is similar inside and outside of his current district. The 2012 political climate is going to be tough for Matheson and all Democrats no matter what the district. Still, Matheson has a reasonable shot in the new District 2. But not statewide.

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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