Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: What will Herbert do with this hot potato of a bill?

Published: Sunday, March 18 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Webb: Seldom have I seen so much tumult and jockeying for political positions. The number of retirements and the number of incumbents being challenged is quite remarkable. It is a time of agitation in Utah politics, complete with both disillusionment about the ability of government — especially the federal government — to solve problems and a feeling of urgency to run and make a difference. Redistricting has also encouraged retirement, while also creating opportunities for those waiting for a chance.

Despite eating grits — and proclaiming he enjoyed it — Utah favorite adopted son Mitt Romney was thumped in the Mississippi and Alabama primaries. Was it just a Mormon thing or something deeper?

Pignanelli: The LDS issue is not the biggest challenge for Romney. Indeed, if Mitt would act like most Mormons I interact and live with, he would have already secured the nomination. Romney's attitude and lack of understanding for others — not his faith — is the strongest barrier to popular acceptance.

Webb: Romney remains on track to win the nomination, and his religion isn't going to be a major factor. Despite the two losses, Romney has actually increased his delegate lead over Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. The primaries ahead are more favorable for him. The tough primary season has made Romney a better and stronger candidate, but it's unfortunate he is being pushed so far to the right. In the general election, Romney must win support of independents, moderates and Hispanics, and the long primary prevents him from appealing to those groups. However, President Barack Obama remains an unpopular and deeply flawed president, and Romney still has a reasonable chance of winning.

< class="end-note-text">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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