Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Utah politicos abuzz with Matheson retirement announcement

Published: Sunday, Dec. 22 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Pignanelli: Clueless left-wingers (the Democrat equivalent of tea party extremists) are happy to see Matheson leave. They do not care about losing the advantage an incumbent Democrat brings to the entire ticket. They demand fealty to their ideals, regardless of consequences.

Matheson is well respected by his colleagues and most Utahns regardless of political persuasion. His excellent constituent services, a serious focus on budget discipline, a depth of understanding of Utah's energy issues and a pragmatic approach to health care reform will soon be gone. He will be pressured to run for statewide office in 2016 and beyond. His always practical view of the political environment at that time will determine his decision.

Webb: Matheson was the star of the Democratic Party, and it’s now possible the Democrats will go for years without holding any positions beyond local governments.

I can’t help but believe that congressional gridlock, dysfunction and an overall toxic environment contributed to Matheson’s decision. Great leadership is crucial to the success of our country. But, unfortunately, the very best, most capable leaders don’t often run for office. Instead of statesmen, we sometimes get ideologues or the politically ambitious.

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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