Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: What is Utah's 'secret sauce' for a good economy?
Webb: Utah has had solid, pragmatic, conservative leadership that has kept taxes and government reasonably small, while still using government as appropriate. The result has been an excellently balanced economy, not dominated by one industry or economic sector (like gaming in Nevada or energy in Wyoming). Utah leaders have invested heavily in infrastructure, especially roads and public transit, which form the backbone of the economy. Utah's real secret sauce is collaboration — our willingness to pragmatically work together to solve problems and get things done.
Utah's biggest threat is a public education system that is falling behind. It needs more innovation, followed by more funding, to prepare tomorrow's workers for the jobs that will exist.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is positioning himself as the moderate alternative to a lot of far-right GOP presidential candidates. Can he win the nomination?
Pignanelli: Whether it's automobiles, fashion or food, choosing Italian is always the best option. Christie is the only candidate who enjoys the support across the country from a majority of Republicans, Independents and Democrats. If the GOP prevails in the 2014 Senate elections, the smell of victory will be in the air (much like a great marinara sauce) and the hard-liners will set aside their differences with the New Jersey governor.
Webb: I hope Christie runs. At this point, he's the best candidate and the GOP's best chance to win. Christie is blunt, outspoken and isn't afraid to mix it up. He's a pragmatic conservative who likes to solve problems and get things done. He's tired of the party's chest-thumping ideologues who love to talk and debate but haven't accomplished anything. The far right will say he's too moderate, but he won't be another flip-flopping Mitt Romney. Christie will be viewed as a regular, genuine, guy who is tough and plain-spoken. He can win the nomination because Republicans need someone who can beat Hillary Clinton. America is still a center-right nation, and we need a center-right conservative candidate to get the federal budget and entitlements under control and promote economic growth policies.
Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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