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Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Here's what Utah's politicians wished from Santa

Published: Sunday, Dec. 25 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011.

Associated Press

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Pignanelli and Webb: Santa Claus is resting this morning. He took care of more than 4 billion items on his to-do list. Not a bad night's work. We assume he visited all of Utah's politicians, but those on the "naughty list" no doubt received coal in their stocking rather than candy and gifts.

Thanks to the repeal of HB477, we were able to file a GRAMA request and obtain lists of what Utah politicians requested for Christmas gifts.

Gov. Gary Herbert asked Santa for "the plan." This is an elusive document designed to satisfy a number of Republican and Independent skeptics who say the governor "is a nice guy — but he has no plan to take Utah to the next level." No one can provide details of the ephemeral plan (they just want Herbert to have one). Well, Santa didn't bring "the plan." Instead, he brought a pretty tough Democratic opponent in Peter Cooke. Herbert must have been on the naughty list.

Utah Republicans' Christmas ask was pretty simple: Mitt Romney on the presidential ticket. This is the gift that keeps on giving — a GOP landslide in Utah in November, a pretty sure bet to finally terminate Jim Matheson, and bolstered state credibility at the national level (the possibility of our favorite adopted son in the White House!).

Utah Democrats had a short request: "Please give Republicans coal in their stockings by ensuring Newt Gingrich is the nominee!" Were Santa to come through, upset Utah Republicans would be far less enthusiastic on Election Day, giving the Democratic Party a fighting chance for a 2012 comeback.

Sen. Orrin Hatch sought nothing for himself this Christmas. He respects the financial and fiscal skills of possible opponent State Sen. Dan Liljenquist so much that he asked Santa to deliver a church mission call to Liljenquist to overhaul the LDS Church retirement system.

Liljenquist's Christmas request was also quite simple: He just asked Santa to help Hatch "act his age" with a bounteous number of "senior moments" in 2012.

In another example of selflessness, Salt Lake County Council Member Richard Snelgrove (and candidate for Salt Lake County mayor), requested that Santa bypass his house and spread the cheer to other residents. "Richard Burwash made my Christmas so wonderful that it would be greedy to ask Santa for more."

Sen. Mike Lee had a couple of requests. He asked Santa to place pocket-size copies of the U.S. Constitution in every stocking this year. He also wanted Santa to help him win the affection of average Utah voters who like candy by becoming known by his favorite nickname: Junior DeMint.

Jim Matheson wanted only one thing for Christmas – Arch-conservative Rep. Carl Wimmer as the GOP nominee in the 4th District.

Santa came early for several politicos: Speaker Becky Lockhart enjoyed the gift of Rep. David Clark's resignation to run for Congress. Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis is reveling in the gift of Peter Cooke running for governor. The numerous GOP 2nd Congressional District candidates are all celebrating Jim Matheson's decision to run in the 4th District. Senate President Michael Waddoups continues to enjoy the gift of retirement in 2012: He can mess with the state Alcohol Department all he wants with no fear of reprisal.

Santa this year boycotted former Salt Lake City mayor and Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson — for good reason. Anderson and his newly formed political party had blasted Santa as a capitalist overlord who enslaves diminutive people in a sweatshop and gives too many gifts to the "1 percent."

Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who has the thankless task of regulating Utah's lobbyists, asked Santa to place on the "naughty" list all lobbyists who fail the ethics test they must take each year.

Democratic state senators Ross Romero and Ben McAdams — who are seeking the Democratic nomination for Salt Lake County mayor — asked Santa for "lifestyle stylists" to help distinguish themselves from each other. Both are lawyers, both are moderate Senate Democrats with almost identical positions on the issues, and they have comparable voting records and special interests.

Mitt Romney asked Santa for the gift of a Ron Paul win in Iowa, with Romney close behind in second place, setting Romney up perfectly for a win in New Hampshire and big momentum to capture the GOP nomination.

Jon Huntsman asked Santa for an enormous independent voter turnout in New Hampshire and a last-minute Romney mistake — his only hope of a respectable showing.

Pignanelli and Webb wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a 2012 political year that will be fun and fascinating to watch.

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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