Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Will Utahns march to their party caucuses this week?

Published: Sunday, March 11 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

The Legislature has concluded and Utah lawmakers will face political activists in caucuses and conventions over the next few weeks. How did the focus on party caucuses impact the legislative session?

Pignanelli: Every official/candidate facing an election in 2012 has been nervous about "those delegates" for months — legislators were no exception. Smart politicians must have a caucus strategy, which explains legislation and speeches that appealed to various constituencies that are well-organized and expected to participate with vigor in the caucuses (aka "extremists").

Webb: I have been bragging about our Republican legislators all session, noting that they haven't been intimidated by the far right, by worries about upcoming caucuses or past convention demands — especially regarding immigration issues.

But then they had to botch it up and open themselves to criticism as stereotypical right-wing extremists by voting to ban sex education in schools except for abstinence programs. I live in downtown Salt Lake City, and I guarantee that the kids in the inner-city neighborhoods, mostly latchkey kids with only one parent who barely copes with life, will still learn about sex. But they'll learn it on the streets or in the back seat of a car in a dark alley, rather than from a professional who helps them understand the facts of life in a straightforward way, helping them avoid pregnancy, AIDS, and shattered dreams.

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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