As the third week of the Utah Legislature ends, it has been a rather mild session so far.

And that is understandable.

No voucher debate this year; Utahns soundly killed the controversial private school tax voucher law in last November's election.

And GOP lawmakers are taking every chance they get to remind the media and citizens that it is they — the majority party along with Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. — who have given public schools and teachers record increases in spending and raises.

It is a re-election year for Huntsman, all 75 members of the House and half of the 29-member Senate.

Across the nation, it looks like a good year for Democrats — from the presidential contest on down.

But don't look for big changes in Utah politics — as red as the American blood flowing in all legislators' hearts.

Huntsman remains a very popular governor. And with just over a month to go before the candidate filing deadline, no Democrat has stood up to challenge him.

Utahns have not kicked out a sitting governor seeking a second term since the 1950s, more than half a century ago. And Huntsman certainly seems safe this year.

As are most of the legislators.

In 2006, more than 90 percent of the Utah House members who sought re-election won. The Senate's recidivism rate was lower, but only because several GOP senators were defeated in re-election by a challenger from their same party — not by a Democrat.

As angry as some voters may have been at the GOP-controlled Legislature during the voucher debate, it is unlikely they will hold it against lawmakers come November.

I recall when the 1987 Legislature, led by GOP Gov. Norm Bangerter, passed the largest tax hikes in the state's history for public and higher education. A taxpayer revolt ensued. And Bangerter was way down in the polls before storming back to win a second term in a 1988 campaign nail-biter.

And what about the Republican legislators who voted for his tax hikes?

No retribution at the 1988 polls. The GOP even won back seats from the Democrats.

Indeed, legislators did such a good job of politically redrawing their own House and Senate districts in 2001 that there are few seats in either body that are truly competitive at election time.

Most of the Republicans and Democrats are immune from being beaten by a candidate from the opposing party — leaving the incumbents to look over their own party shoulders to see if a fellow Republican or Democrat is running against them.

All the good feelings now in the 2008 Legislature may well be challenged in two weeks, however, when the new revenue estimates come in. Unlike the last half dozen years, the regular mid-February revenue updates may not produce more money for lawmakers to spend. Legislators may see actual drops in estimated tax take for next year.

If so, legislators and Huntsman will have to face a faltering economy during this summer's election campaigning.

But they've suffered such setbacks before. And Republicans have continued to win most elective offices.

Change may be the call word in the presidential campaigns. But it won't be so in Utah.

Look to the 2008 Legislature to end with a whimper, not a bang.

And look for the lawmaker incumbents to head off to their re-elections secure in campaign money (raised mostly from special interests) and with the knowledge that the odds are greatly in their favor that they will return in 2009 for another term in office.

Deseret Morning News political editor Bob Bernick Jr. may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]