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Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Will Utah parties change how they pick candidates?

Published: Sunday, April 21 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Pignanelli: Many national Republican Party leaders (i.e. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour) continue to blemish their political affiliation as the "stupid party." Who am I to disagree? Despite some enlightened movement on immigration, recent actions by the National GOP Central Committee demonstrate the far-right controls the party. Our Legislature dampened the rhetoric on some issues, but ultra-conservatives will likely control party offices after convention elections next month. Stupidity apparently doesn't guarantee extinction.

Webb: The tea party uprising in 2010 was the best thing that has occurred in national politics in many decades. It provided the energy to hand the Democrats a major defeat, win the U.S. House, and stop President Obama's ultra-liberal agenda in its tracks. But the Republican Party can't just be the party of NO. It is important now for political leaders to be problem solvers and address the nation's major challenges.

I believe both nationally and in Utah we're seeing a shift toward more practical, problem-solving governance instead of highly ideological rhetoric that doesn't solve anything. Immigration is an example. In Utah, even conservative (and courageous) legislators are now willing to talk about tax increases for education. With the defeat of several tea party ideologues in 2012, Utah is ready to move on to sensible, problem-solving politics.

The U.S. Senate "Gang of 8" is constructing a bipartisan immigration solution. How should Utah's congressional delegation respond?

Pignanelli: Our national lawmakers should remember two things: Classical conservative economists conclusively demonstrate immigration restrictions result in economic stagnation; and the legislation mirrors the spirit of the famous Utah Compact. So vote for it!

Webb: Immigration has been an enormous, divisive issue that has hurt the country and hurt the economy. The compromise tightens borders while dealing realistically with the millions of illegal immigrants already here. We need to bring them out of the shadows and prosecute the criminals who want to stay hidden. The compromise incorporates important reforms championed by Sen. Orrin Hatch on farm and high-tech workers. It's time to support the compromise.

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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