Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Republicans continue to struggle to set future course

Published: Sunday, Dec. 16 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Pignanelli: Utah Democrats will decide this question. While there may be nonsensical chest-thumping in the Legislature, rarely do Utah Republicans give the minority party the gift of horrific statements and behavior as with their national colleagues. If local Democrats craft their message and policies with a sensitivity to Utahns traditional angst with the federal government while promoting opportunities for middle income families, 2012 may be the high-water mark for the GOP and everything else is downhill. But if Utah Democrats adopt a tone deafness similar to national Republicans, 2014 could be another tough year.

Webb: The Utah GOP is holding its own, winning where it should win, but not picking up a lot of ground, especially in Salt Lake County. To maintain its dominance, Republicans can't allow the far right to regain control of the party apparatus, particularly the nominating process. The winning formula is to nominate mainstream, conservative, problem-solvers, not right-wing ideologues. After its 2010 tea party flirtation, Utah is back where it has been historically — a mainstream, center-right state that conscientiously balances its budgets while responsibly meeting citizen needs. That's a formula for continued success.

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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