Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: What lessons can we learn from the John Swallow saga?

Published: Sunday, Dec. 1 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Unless successfully challenged in court, the Republican Party State Central Committee will submit to the governor a replacement for Swallow, and will include two back-up names. It’s hard to predict who will be on the committee’s list.

A strong candidate was the highly-respected Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem,but he has declined. Former Utah Supreme Court Justice Michael Wilkins is greatly respected in legal circles and has indicated he would step in to clean things up, but would not seek election to the office. Scott Burns, GOP nominee for attorney general in 1992 and 1996, is another possibility. He just finished a stint with the National District Attorneys Association.

Several current and former lawmakers are also considering a "nothing to lose" grasp for the big brass ring (or others are pushing them to consider). They include: Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, Rep. Derek Brown, R-Cottonwood Heights, Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, and former Rep. Morgan Philpot.

Of course, Sean Reyes, who garnered over 40 percent in the convention but lost to Swallow in the primary election, is an automatic contender. A dark horse candidate who is beginning to emerge is former Herbert Chief of Staff Jason Perry (now a vice president at the University of Utah).

In the next AG election, several well-qualified Democrats will consider a run. The 2012 nominee and Weber County Attorney Dee Smith retains strong support. Others include Rep. Brian King, Salt Lake County Atty. Sim Gill and prominent local attorneys Steve Owens and Greg Skordas.

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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