The conventions have ended, the kids are back at school and the political season is in the home stretch. As a service to our readers, we hereby provide the 2008 installment of what politicos are saying — and what they really mean:

A majority of Utah Democrats: "We will only support a state leader who challenges the Legislature, takes strong stands to protect the environment, defends the poor, lowers sales taxes on food and is working to modernize liquor laws." ("Uh-oh, we are voting for Jon Huntsman Jr.")

Utah Republicans: "Gov. Sarah Palin is a wonderful choice for John McCain; she will add much to the ticket." ("It should have been Mitt Romney, and if McCain loses he deserves it.")

Mitt Romney: "Gov. Palin has energized the party and will make a great vice president." ("McCain chose this no-name lightweight from Alaska over me? Incredible!")

John McCain: "I selected Gov. Palin because she is the best qualified person to be vice president." ("I looked at the poll numbers and threw a Hail Mary pass to energize the conservative base.")

Gov. Huntsman: "My opponent is a strong candidate, and I expect a tough campaign. I'm not taking anything for granted, and I look forward to the debates." ("By the way, what is his name?")

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Springmeyer: "I am invigorated by the opportunity to communicate my views to so many Utahns." ("Either listen to me or I will continue to spam you to death."

Gov. Huntsman: "My only plan is to serve the people of Utah for another four years." ("My bags are packed for Washington if McCain calls.")

Progressive Utah candidates: "It is imperative that we reform our government and change how business is conducted." ("I have no idea what the voters really want.")

Lots of ambitious young Republicans: "Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett are terrific senators who give our state a lot of clout in Congress." ("It's high time for those tired old fogeys to retire and let the younger generation take over!")

Eager young Democrats: "Obama has energized a new generation of Utah voters, and the political dynamics in Utah are changing." ("Do we really have any future?")

Democratic "Community Organizers": "We are outraged at the racist, discriminatory attacks against our profession by Republicans." ("Wow, for the first time we are getting attention in the media.")

Republican PR spokesmen: "Of course Gov. Palin has international experience; Alaska has Russia and Canada as neighbors." ("Yep, we are pretty weak on this issue.")

Rep. Jim Matheson: "I didn't go to the Democratic National Convention because I needed to stay in Utah to campaign and support my family as school started." ("It would have looked terrible to my constituents in rural Utah to be seen partying with all those liberals in Denver.")

Republican 2nd congressional candidate Bill Dew: "Matheson is too aligned with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid." ("There's absolutely nothing else I can say to rally Republicans against Matheson.")

Republican congressional candidates: "We need to drill everywhere so America gains energy independence from terrorists." ("Wow, what a great issue to use to beat up the Democrats!")

Conservatives: "I will never raise taxes!" ("But I never said anything about revenue enhancements, income bracketing and fee adjustments.")

Liberals: "I am not beholden to special interests!" ("This is a pre-emptive action on my part since I am taking their money.")

Right-wingers: "I am steadfast in my defense of family values and the Constitution." ("I lack substance and any knowledge of the real issues.")

Left-wingers: "We can solve our public education, environmental, energy and transportation problems with expanded government programs, funded by cutting waste." ("I know it's nonsense, but it sounds so nice.")

Any Democratic candidate: "My opponent is a nice person, but we need balance and diverse perspectives in this state." ("I have nothing better than this tired, old argument.")

Any Republican candidate: "My opponent is a nice person, but my district needs someone who can really deliver and work with the governing majority." ("I have nothing better than this tired, old argument.")

Enlightened candidates: "I was persuaded to run by an overwhelming number of neighbors, colleagues and associates who believe I have something to offer." ("My mother, wife and Sunday School class said I could be a good candidate.")

Struggling candidates: "I will take my campaign to the streets and doorsteps, to interact with voters on a personal level." ("I cannot afford paid media.")

The political media: "Strong candidates, and those who are best able to win, raise money from a variety of individual and corporate sources." ("We are hypocrites. We castigate those candidates who cannot raise boatloads of money as weak, but we attack those who garner financial support as beholden to special interests.")

All candidates: "The public is tired of partisan bickering and name-calling. Thus, I am committed to waging a positive campaign." ("My campaign surrogates will throw the mud.")

Major office candidates: "My campaign is focused on deeply held values." ("Whatever the polls tell me to say, I'm saying it.")

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].