Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: How will the government shutdown affect Utah politics?

Published: Monday, Oct. 21 2013 1:15 p.m. MDT

I’ve been watching politics for 40 years and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such blunders by archconservative Republicans. With their poor strategy, they’ve hurt the conservative cause, damaged chances to defeat President Barack Obama’s liberal policies, made it harder to win pro-growth tax reform, get entitlement programs under control and reduce federal spending. They’ve hurt GOP chances of taking control of the Senate in 2014 and the presidency in 2016. They’ve strengthened Obamacare instead of defunding it. They’ve said let’s go fight liberal demons, but first let’s shoot ourselves in both feet, tie both hands behind our backs, surrender our weapons and charge up the hill against a vastly superior force. Other than those things, right-wing strategists have been brilliant.

Gov. Gary Herbert and state lawmakers committed state resources to reopen national parks. What are the political benefits and possible setbacks?

Pignanelli: This was a political gold mine as evidenced by the outpouring of gratitude by many to Gov. Herbert and the Legislature for this action. Utahns swell with pride when our “can-do” personality trait is on public display. But in the next shutdown, there will be more calls for state intervention beyond parks.

Webb: Herbert won enormous goodwill by demonstrating strong leadership and showing that things can still get done in government if reasonable people are willing to work together. It’s possible the feds will refuse to pay back the state, but it will have been worth it.

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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