Pignanelli and Webb: Political triage on mayoral race, senators vs. Trump and legislative politics

Politicos love nothing more than to politically triage officials, candidates and elections. We look at three recent events and the extent of hurt and injury.

The campaign bombshell of this year (so far) was the announcement by Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski that she will not seek re-election. How does this alter the race for announced and potential candidates James Dabakis, Stan Penfold, David Ibarra, David Garbett, Christian Harrison and Luz Escamilla?

Pignanelli: “From politics, it was an easy step to silence.”— Jane Austen

Observers predicted the recently filed Inland Port lawsuit would energize the mayor's re-election campaign, enhancing her perception as the anti-establishment Joan of Arc in Utah. But we will never know.

A word of caution to readers who live outside Salt Lake City — it is very much not like the rest of the state. For capital city residents, international and national causes regarding the environment, human rights, urbane lifestyle, etc. are more important than traditional municipal issues.

Also, mayoral candidates endure the toughest challenge of any office seeker in the state. Fundraising demands are comparable to federal and statewide offices. Additionally, residents demand a campaign similar to legislative and council races, focused on door-to-door outreach, cottage meetings and attendance at Community Council functions.

Biskupki’s departure benefits Dabakis but also opens another pathway for Penfold — a former city councilmember who understands the emotional levers of city residents. This election now mirrors the 2007 race — victory to not the best financed, but to most strategic in messaging and voter turnout.

Utahns should expect several mayoral contenders leading crusades on topics “unique” to their capital.

Webb: The mayoral race is wide open. Dabakis has the lead in the polls, but it’s all ephemeral name ID. The only candidate I know well is Christian Harrison, the former Downtown Community Council chair. He’s a fine person.

Salt Lake City is as liberal as any big city in the country, so the next mayor will obviously not be a conservative (as I would prefer), or even a moderate. But even liberals ought to understand that the next mayor needs to be able to work collaboratively with the business community, the Legislature, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The church contributes immensely to Salt Lake's economy, vitality and success. A hostile mayor could provoke the church to move its headquarters to Bountiful (just joking!).

The new mayor also needs to be business-friendly. Strong business and economic centers are popping up all over the valley and, especially, in northern Utah County. Salt Lake City faces plenty of competition for economic vibrance. An anti-business mayor would be disastrous for the city.

Candidates concerned about endangered species and oppressed minorities should listen to me — the very last old white male conservative Republican still living in downtown Salt Lake City.

Last week, Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney voted to overturn Pres. Donald Trump's emergency declaration on border wall funding. Then Romney criticized Trump's tweets disparaging former Sen. John McCain. Is the grumbling within GOP ranks a problem for Trump?

Pignanelli: Lee’s undisputed commitment to constitutional principles — even at the expense of legislation that benefits Utah — compelled his affirmative vote on this resolution. Trumpistas care nothing for such admirable consistency and are screaming betrayal. These objections will soon dissipate. Further, his decision solidifies him as a future conservative nominee for the Supreme Court.

Romney is an unusual commodity in Washington, D.C. He was literally drafted by Utah voters and expresses little ambition beyond. Therefore, no one can threaten him from providing the desperately needed parental supervision in Washington. Millions are grateful for his assumption of this burden.

Webb: I don’t have a problem with Lee and Romney voting against Trump. But I have a very big problem with Congress itself being totally impotent in dealing with the immigration mess. Immigration policy, a quintessential congressional responsibility, is in shambles, desperately needing reform.

The reason Trump usurps congressional authority is that Lee and Romney and the rest of Congress are incapable of producing good public policy. The old saying is true: Congress is good at only two things — doing nothing and overreacting.

Republicans do have a problem with Trump’s many foibles. But Democrats have a problem with leftist candidates and a Trump economy that’s the best in many years. Which is the worst problem going into 2020?

Do any of the results of the recently concluded legislative session suggest electoral problems for lawmakers?

Pignanelli: The tax reform controversy overwhelmed every other issue that may have caused problems for lawmakers. Although hundreds of thousands of Utahns would have been impacted, little time was available for them to assess. Summertime committee hearings covered by the media, along with a potential special session, will provide opportunities for everyone to learn, and decide whether to support or oppose.

Webb: What will matter is how the Legislature performs in the special session later this year. Legislative leaders have forced themselves to take meaningful steps on tax reform, tax cuts and the state budget by deliberately spending $300 million in one-time money to pay for ongoing expenses. If they don’t perform, chaos ensues.