Pignanelli & Webb: We’re worried about the decline of printed newspapers. And we’ve been told that names sell newspapers. So it’s time to update an old column in an effort to preserve print journalism, the First Amendment, the American Way, Utah’s oldest newspaper, lining for birdcages (with our photo as bull’s-eye) — and our jobs as columnists.
So, to win the name-dropping sweepstakes:
Gary Herbert: Polls show he’s cruising to the Republican nomination and re-election to a second full term. Only question is whether his primary election opponent, Jonathan Johnson, can generate the world’s greatest ground game and turn out enough people who don’t like Herbert. There aren’t very many of them.
Jonathan Johnson: Tough to run to the right of a popular conservative incumbent in a good economy.
Orrin Hatch: Speculation mounts about a 2018 run for the old political warhorse. May depend on 2016 election outcomes. Many think no way.
Mike Leavitt: Active campaigning for Count My Vote shows he has plenty of political fight left in him.
Mike Lee: His refusal to endorse Trump — brilliant or shortsighted? (But we are proud of him.)
Younger Republican prospects monitoring major race opportunities: Derek Miller, Spencer Cox, John Curtis, Sophia DiCaro, Spencer P. Eccles, Jeff Edwards, Natalie Gochnour, Justin Harding, Deidre Henderson, Matt Holland, Kirk Jowers, Dan Liljenquist, Boyd Matheson, Jason Perry, Randy Shumway, Thomas Wright, Jeremy Peterson, Mike Schultz, Dean Sanpei, John Knotwell, Keith Grover, Jon Stanard, Keven Stratton, Robert Spendlove, Steve Eliason, Kim Coleman, Mike McKell, Marc Roberts.
Jim Matheson/Pat Jones: Dream ticket for 2020 governor/lieutenant governor?
Rob Bishop: Staying his low-key self, but emerging as a significant House leader running Natural Resources. Excellent effort on the Public Lands Initiative.
Mitt Romney: By vigorously attacking Trump, he provides a lot of cover for mainstream Republicans to speak up when they disagree with the demagogue. He has a bully pulpit, so expect him to continue to be vocal.
Greg Hughes: A guy on a mission who isn’t afraid to take on big projects. But why is he supporting Trump?!?
House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan and Whip Francis Gibson, working hard to keep their caucus harmless from a Trump implosion.
Peter Corroon: Enjoying the gift of Trump in hopes his Democratic Party can win a congressional seat and a few extra legislative seats this year.
Jon Huntsman, Jr.: Biding his time ... biding his time ... waiting to see how the political winds shift post-Trump. And maybe a cabinet position in the nearer future.
Paul Huntsman: The Huntsman no one knew. We all know him now as publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune.
James Evans: Can he make peace with the party mainstream and repair deep GOP schisms? Not likely. He continues to push party factions further apart as chief sorcerer defending the false political religion of caucus/convention.
Jason Chaffetz: Relishing his role as top congressional watchdog barking at the Obama administration — and a strong contender for the Senate in 2018 or the governorship in 2020.
Wayne Niederhauser: Cool, calm, state Senate leadership. Committed to good public policy that prepares Utah for tremendous growth.
Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, Whips Stuart Adams and Pete Knudson: Will new senators vote to change their ranks?
Chris Stewart: Still not well known, but making a name for himself in military and foreign intelligence circles. His bones are quite mainstream.
Gail Miller: Demonstrated she’s willing to mix it up in politics as a key supporter of Count My Vote, as well as engaging in tough downtown homeless issues.
Mia Love: To her credit, hasn’t showboated or taken undue advantage of myriad media opportunities. Tackles tough issues as a first-termer. But faces competitive re-election bid.
Michael Weinholtz, Jonathan Swinton, Misty Snow, Peter Clemens, Charlene Albarran, Stephen Tyron: All good Democratic knights of La Mancha tilting at gubernatorial and statewide political windmills with slight chance of success.
County officials Kerry Gibson, Mike Jensen, Aimee Newton, Richard Snelgrove and Chris Robinson are worth watching for higher political office.
Curt Bramble: Departs presidency of National Conference of State Legislatures. The next target for his energies?
Evan Vickers: The next voice of rural Utah?
Minority Leader Brian King offers a strident but articulate loyal opposition.
Doug Owens: Will the second run be the charm? Survey research shows he has a decent chance in the 4th District.
Brad Wilson: Substantive lawmaker taking on some big legislative initiatives, especially the Point of the Mountain Project. His Co-chairman Chris Conabee adds important private-sector dimension.
Ben McAdams: Should cruise to re-election in Salt Lake County, after which speculation will mount for a 2020 gubernatorial campaign.
Scott Anderson: Tries to stay out of limelight, but tough when involved in every big thing happening.
Don Peay: Can the behind-the-scenes power broker pull it off for Trump in Utah?
There. We may have established a new “mentioning” record. Sorry if we missed anyone. If we sell a few extra papers maybe Keith McMullin, Paul Edwards, Lynn Chapman and Scott Taylor will keep this column going for a while.
Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: email@example.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is the president/CEO of the Special Olympics of Utah. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.