Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Both parties defend the caucus; is hope for reform lost?

Published: Sunday, June 30 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Party insiders like to call me an elitist. But here's who's on my side: 70 percent of registered voters who want to dump the caucus/convention system; business leaders across the board, including chambers of commerce and most other business associations; higher education leaders and college boards of trustees; public education leaders, PTA, school boards, school principals; virtually all of the state's news media; all of the state's former living governors, most former state GOP chairs, most former members of Congress; most of Utah's non-profit organizations. Plus plenty of hints from leaders in the faith community that they want change. If we don't fix this thing, shame on us.

So are all these people elitists? Who's out-of-touch with mainstream Utah? Why should Utah business leaders contribute to the Republican Party when it is working against their interests? GOP Chairman James Evans, you have a problem.

Utah's new federal courthouse will be completed next spring. But a fight over the name of the structure is already underway between supporters of past U.S. Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Who should win?

Pignanelli: This is a no-brainer. Some downtown lawyers are attempting a revisionist makeover of crusty conservative Sutherland. An English immigrant, he enjoyed a successful political career in Utah. But his reputation as a jurist is a mixed bag. Sutherland authored many opinions — later reversed — striking down child labor laws and New Deal programs. Conversely, Sen. Orrin Hatch is a sunny conservative with an established reputation of working with Democrats to implement important legislation (i.e. children's health insurance, immigration reform, etc.). Millions of Americans are benefiting from Hatch's ecumenical approach and his legacy is a credit to the state and should be honored.

Webb: Name it after Hatch in honor of 42 years of service. He's shown a lot of courage and leadership on immigration reform. Side benefit: If he gets his name on a building he'll be a lot less likely to want to go for 48.

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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