Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Our brackets are shot, time to focus on political minutiae

Published: Sunday, March 30 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Webb: Dabakis is the biggest ego in Utah politics today and is always good for entertainment and a pithy quote. But he hasn’t been good for the Democratic Party. While Dabakis listed many accomplishments in his resignation letter, winning elections wasn’t one of them. With Congressman Jim Matheson retiring, Democrats are at their lowest ebb in decades, with Dabakis presiding over part of the decline. In his letter, Dabakis said he would now be free to revert to his true self: “I may well morph into the blazing liberal I have always felt, but needed to moderate out as a statewide spokesperson.” He actually didn’t hide his “blazing liberal” side very well and he hurt moderate Democrats. Mainstream Democrats like Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams will spend more time running away from Dabakis-style politics than embracing it. So, for the sake of electing more Republicans, I hope Dabakis stays active and stays vocal.

Although almost 6 months away, what issues are likely to predominate in Utah's 2014 general election?

Pignanelli: Utah's Congressional Republicans will bang away at Obamacare leading up to the election, and will be an issue for races down the ballot. Foreign policy rarely matters in Utah, but Vladimir Putin's antics may be a talking point in October. Medicare expansion, pro and con, will be used as a weapon. Both sides will utilize the traditional bogeymen: Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, etc.

Webb: 2014 is going to be a big Republican year, both in Utah and nationally. My wish is for Republicans in Utah and nationally to use the favorable political climate to show we are the party of great ideas to solve pressing public policy problems — the party of solutions, not the party of ideological warfare.

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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