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Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Utah races to watch other than for the U.S. Senate

Published: Sunday, April 1 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Some legislative races to watch:

At the height of the tea party uprising within the Utah Republican Party, Casey Anderson was selected to replace the deceased Sen. Dennis Stowell in southwestern Utah. Anderson is now running for a full term but is challenged by Rep. Evan Vickers — a well-respected businessman from Cedar City. The result will offer insight into the current makeup of Republican delegates.

A former County Commissioner, Sen. Ralph Okerlund from Monroe, is running for re-election to his south-central Senate seat. However, Rep. Patrick Painter from Nephi, who is well known for his water expertise in the Legislature, is challenging him.

State Sen. John Valentine offered legislation to assist Rep. Craig Frank, when Frank learned that he no longer lived in his legislative district. In an interesting twist, Frank is now challenging his former friend for the Senate seat. Valentine has been a major player in a host of important issues at the Capitol for 25 years, but redistricting gives him a lot of new voters. This battle will be closely followed by legislative observers.

State Sen. Curt Bramble is famous for his passion and ability to sponsor and pass legislation. He fell out of favor among some in the tea party movement and is challenged by BYU professor Andrew Holmes. This race is definitely on the watch list.

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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