Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Count My Vote compromise seems to provoke contradicting reactions

Utah’s confusing weather — rain and high mountain snow interspersed with summer-like heat — is a perfect backdrop to the turmoil in Utah politics. We offer our political/meteorological insights.

The Utah Republican Party sent a survey to 60,000 Republicans to measure opinions regarding SB54 — the much-debated law passed as a compromise to the Count My Vote (CMV) petition to replace the caucus/convention system with direct primary elections. A majority of some 3,000 respondents want to comply with the law, yet want the legal challenges to continue. These activists want candidates to swear fealty to the platform, but don't want candidates interviewed by "purity" committees candidates. Why this storm of contradictions?

Pignanelli: “Mixed feelings, like mixed drinks, are a confusion to the soul.” — George Carmen

The poll reveals Republicans are suffering from perplexities that ail teenagers. As with my kids, they procrastinated before dealing with the momentum behind CMV, which could have been remedied by a simple fix (minor modifications to the nomination process). Eventually, positive forces within them forged a compromise solution (the Bramble legislation). Now they are having second thoughts while blaming other family members.

Many delegates pound their chest with the admonition "Utah is a republic” (of course it is). Smart elected representatives thoroughly vetted the legislation and voted in behalf of their constituents. Now these activists are behaving as in a democracy by trying to thwart legitimate laws with means outside the legislative process.

Confusion always results when humans try to have it both ways — just like teenagers.

Webb: The party’s unscientific survey, along with numerous professional polls, clearly show that Republicans want to comply with the law, move forward, and provide certainty for 2016 candidates so they know how to run their campaigns. Bottom line is that the party needs to quit fighting SB54 and prepare for 2016.

To restore credibility, the party also needs new leadership. I like Chairman James Evans personally and respect his mettle. But he’s led the party on too many senseless kamikaze attacks and he’s losing membership by the hour. Alienating mainstream Utahns doesn’t build the Grand Old Party, and Evans is way past rehabilitation.

Legislators forged many remarkable and well-publicized achievements in the last legislative session (anti-discrimination amendments, education funding, transportation improvements, criminal justice reform, etc.). We offer other items that were under the radar, but helpful to Utahns.

Pignanelli: Utah is a wonderful place. Unfortunately, too often con artists and flim flam men ravage the pure decency of our trusting citizens. So the White Collar Crime Offender Registry (the nation’s first), which places the names and pictures of these financial felons on a website will diminish future financial fraud schemes. Rep. Michael Mckell and Sen. Curt Bramble sponsored this important legislation, in conjunction with Attorney General Sean Reyes.

With similar goals, Bramble passed new requirements providing public access to complaints against certain businesses filed with the Department of Commerce. In the same bill, the Provo senator expanded the ability of citizens to obtain public records from local government through the appeals process.

Quietly, all Utahns benefit from this good work.

Webb: We have too much carnage on the highways and the primary seat belt law will help. Buckling up might not just save your own life, but others around you as well.

The influential British publication, "The Economist," recently heralded Utah as “Young, tolerant and surprising” … a state that “is quietly forging a model of constructive Republicanism.” Really?

Pignanelli: Most Utah households are positively influenced by a wonderful periodical with a name that begins with “E.” The Pignanelli family is no exception, except that our weekly dose of excellent writing and thought emanates from the prominent weekly Economist. This publication explained to its global leadership how this magnificent state accepts diversity, promotes a quality lifestyle, but demands efficiency in government. Jolly good for us!

Webb: Don’t look now, folks on the far right, but Utah has been recaptured by mainstream conservatives. The reign of the tea party is over. Evidence is everywhere, and people across the country and the world are starting to notice. A state is going to receive attention when it can overcome political dysfunction, compromise to solve problems, pass critical legislation on pressing issues, and govern in a practical, conservative way. Utah is demonstrating that applying conservative principles sensibly is the right approach.

Certainly, Utah still faces many significant challenges and plenty of fights are ahead. We still need to find common ground on a conservative approach to Medicaid expansion; we need long-term education funding and reform; and we need to deal with a number of public lands and environmental issues. But we’ll eventually make good progress on those matters as well. You can read The Economist article here: