A couple of observations this week on the political scene:
- With Gov. Norm Bangerter saying last week that he won't run for a third term in 1992, Republicans and Democrats are buzzing over who will run for governor.The list is long. But don't count on many, or most, of the names now being mentioned still being around come April 15, 1992 - the candidate filing deadline.
Time and again I've seen politicos - who I call "the perpetually mentioned" - step aside. It's one thing to talk about running for a major office, quite another thing to actually do it.
I have great respect, and some sympathy, for those who have the courage to place themselves and their families on the line. But with public service comes scrutiny, and if a person can't take public criticism then he or she shouldn't be in the arena.
It's a hard lesson to learn. Some politicians never learn it but make a career out of complaining about the press or opposition politicians who criticize them.
Ultimately, some become bitter, leaving public life believing they were dealt a bad hand or mistreated. I like the attitude of an aide to former Salt Lake Mayor Ted Wilson, who used to say, only partly joking: "The first rule of government is to have fun, don't take it too seriously."
- A Republican Party task force headed by Richard Eyre has come up with campaign, legislative and lobbying reforms that I find startling - startling because they are so good and make such sense that it's hard to believe the Republican-controlled Legislature will ever adopt them.
The task force suggests:
- More specific disclosure and reporting laws on campaign fund raising and spending, with legislative candidates required to report all contributions on a regular schedule before the election. (Legislators have specifically exempted themselves from campaign reporting before an election. They only file after the election, when such disclosure does voters no good.)
- All money raised for a political campaign must be spent for campaign purposes.
- Tougher laws for the registration of all lobbyists and mandatory reporting of all direct or indirect expenditures or gifts to legislators.
- Tougher laws requiring all legislators to report direct or indirect donations, gifts, meals, etc., received from lobbyists.
- A "motor-voter" registration system where everyone over 18 who has a Utah driver's license is automatically registered to vote.
- A closed-party primary election in which Republicans nominate Republicans and Democrats nominate Democrats.
- Limiting the terms of state representatives to three consecutive terms and state senators to two terms.
- Revitalized party caucuses in which candidates would address the caucus in person or by videotape.
- Free five-minute time blocks on Utah television stations following the 10 p.m. news and free half-page newspaper advertisements for major general-election candidates for state or congressional offices. Free space would also be allowed for legislative candidates in weekly newspapers.
Republicans in the House and Senate have suggested some of these reforms in the past - as have Democrats. But the old-boy Republicans, especially in the Senate, have always killed the measures.
The Democrats have suggested voter registration via drivers' licenses for years, and the Republicans have always rejected it saying it could lead to voter fraud. Their real concern, of course, is that Utahns who move more and are less likely to register under the current system would vote Democratic - but they won't admit that.
I have to take exception with two of the suggestions. To have a closed party primary means registration by party, something Utahns rejected soundly in the late 1960s. I just don't think they'll buy it again.
And why should we give free newspaper space and TV time to major candidates? So we can read and see more blah-blah-blah ads saying how wonderful they are? It would be much better to set up a forum of debates, carry them live on TV and report them fairly in the newspapers.