Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Who prevailed in the first debate between Mia Love and Doug Owens?
Owens is a moderate Democrat in the tradition of Jim Matheson and is a nice guy. But he has to go on the attack and draw a distinction because he loses a low-key, quiet election. But he also can’t cross the line and be mean or condescending. Nice-guy Peter Corroon tried the attack-dog approach against Gov. Gary Herbert in 2010 and lost badly.
This will be the highest profile race in 2014, so could the contest between Love and Owens impact other elections?
Pignanelli: Utahns loved Matheson's maverick independence, which helped some Democrats because the media market for congressional elections is the whole state. If Owens can replicate Matheson’s magic, Democrats will benefit. If Love succeeds in characterizing Owens as a lackey of the national Democrats, election night will be rough.
Webb: Owens is a solid candidate and he needs to do reasonably well or good Democrats will simply give up on congressional and statewide races.
But if he loses, perhaps he can at least come up with a memorable quote that measures up to one of my all-time favorite political quotes — uttered by his father, the late Wayne Owens. Wayne Owens was a popular, charismatic congressman who served back in the days when Democrats still had a chance of winning. He probably could have served for decades in the House, but he could never resist the siren song of higher office, so he ran for the governorship and U.S. Senate (twice) and lost.
He smilingly confided to friends: “When someone whispers in my ear about running for office, I hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the 'Hallelujah Chorus.’ ”
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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