Memorial Day weekend is the start of traditional summertime and the living is supposed to be easy. But for Utah's politicians, especially those seeking election, it will be a hot summer of grind-it-out campaign work. So while you're vacationing at Lake Powell, having picnics in the mountains, going on a cruise or hitting Disneyland, pause for a moment to pity those sorry politicians back home slogging through a summer of politics.
Here's how we've concluded some Utah politicos will be spending their time:
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.: "I'll be doing some traveling, but not on vacation. My mission is to elect John McCain, while constantly refuting cynical suggestions that Cabinet ambitions are behind my involvement. Thus, I will be busy. Oh, yeah, and I have to win re-election myself."
Democratic nominee for governor Robert Springmeyer: "I will be collecting the e-mail addresses of every Utahn to send them my weekly electronic newsletter. He who has the best e-mail list wins. If enough voters will read my wise thoughts, then maybe, just maybe. ..."
Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert: "This will be a painful summer from biting my lip so I don't say anything I will regret about the party dinosaurs staying in office too long. Anyone know a good oral surgeon?"
U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett: "Yeah, I'm spending the summer stomping out political wildfires generated by the alleged unintentional rumors that Herbert is challenging me in 2010. I may be older than the hills, but I'm still spry. I plan to die with my boots on (sitting in my Senate office)!"
Republican legislators: "Those pesky Democrats have violated the natural law of this state, which poses a wearisome summer for us. Against all odds, they have recruited many qualified, competent, hard-working candidates to oppose us. They have violated the sacred tradition that most of us should go unchallenged in the general election. This is clearly a moral issue."
Democratic legislators: "How dare those pesky Republican incumbents take credit for all the great things that are happening in this state. Imagine, them claiming responsibility for a balanced budget, a strong economy, great quality of life and national recognition as the country's best managed state, when they've only been running things for a couple of decades."
Democratic candidates in general: "We will be spending every summer moment reminding voters that Barack Obama is the nominee and not Hillary Clinton. Also, that McCain has close ties to evangelicals who hate Mormons. By the way, did you know that Obama, not Clinton, will be the Democratic nominee?"
Republican candidates in general: "Please remember this summer to judge us by what's happening in Utah, not in Washington. We're not responsible for a ballooning budget, a faltering economy, out-of-control entitlements, $4-a-gallon gasoline, housing in the dumps, an unpopular war and a health-care crisis."
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff: "This polygamy issue is tough. But if I can irritate Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid again, I can be on the front pages for days in the dry news spells of the summer."
Democratic candidate for attorney general Jean Hill: "I want Shurtleff to be in the papers. When he gets in, I get in for a reaction."
Health-care reform task force: "Summer, what summer? We have to endure being shut up for hours of insufferable discussions about medical service payments, insurance co-pays, diagnostic measurements, etc., etc., blah blah blah. It's so intense it's just like the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in the hot summer of 1787! (Only we have air conditioning and Diet Coke.) Just shoot us!"
Second District Congressman Jim Matheson: "No reason to be subtle this summer. It's going to be a big Democratic year for Congress, and I am telling everyone that I'm the only Utahn with tickets to the Major Leagues."
Second District Republican challenger Bill Dew: "This summer I will prove that I'm not an afterthought. I can't be ignored. I'm not a sacrificial lamb. I am not a lost cause. I do have a chance. I'm not road kill. I'm not wasting my time. I can raise money (well, maybe not that last one). Let's repeat that one more time: I'm not an afterthought. I can't be ignored. ..."
Third District Congressman Chris Cannon: "It's summer business as usual a short, intense primary season ending June 24, just four weeks away, against an upstart from my own party. Why don't they like me? Why don't they like me?"
Third District GOP challenger (and former BYU placekicker)
Jason Chaffetz: "I came within inches of knocking Cannon out with a field goal at the convention. Now we're in overtime, sudden death, loser-go-home, and I only need to improve my aim a tiny bit. Would it help if I lived in the district?"
Lobbyists: "What a great summer ahead! Task forces, commissions, interim committees, national conferences ... a whole bunch of opportunities to bill clients."Pignanelli and Webb: "Ah ... a summer ahead of coming up with goofy topics for columns. Got any good ideas?"
Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and a Deseret News managing editor. E-mail: [email protected]. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as House minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a Utah state tax commissioner. E-mail: [email protected]