Rolly: Here’s a switch for Utah — a political forum lacking in Republicans

By PAUL ROLLY

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: March 18, 2014 09:53PM
Updated: March 18, 2014 10:23PM
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Paul Rolly

The University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics held its legislative wrap-up session Monday featuring Capitol Hill leaders from both political parties, according to the invitation.

Scheduled panelists were House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, and House Minority Caucus Manager Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City.

The room was packed, mostly with students ready to hear from the legislative leaders.

Davis and Briscoe were there on time, right at noon. Then everybody waited. And waited. And waited.

The Republicans, for the first time in memory, were no-shows at the event.

So Davis and Briscoe fielded questions from the audience without input from the party that holds overwhelming majorities in both chambers.

Dee later sent an email explaining he had been on his way but got sick and turned around. Niederhauser simply looked at the wrong day on his iPad calendar.

Bait and switch? During the yearlong scandal in the Utah attorney general’s office and the lengthy criminal investigation of former A.G. John Swallow, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill came under frequent fire from some Republicans who alleged he was playing politics with the probe.

Swallow apologists predicted Gill, a Democrat, would come up with charges against the then-attorney general, a Republican, simply because of their partisan differences. They also asserted Gill was trying to drive Swallow from the office so he could run for it himself.

Those allegations fizzled when a bipartisan investigative committee, formed by a GOP-led House, found numerous legal and ethical violations by Swallow and suggested criminal charges may be in the offing.

Still, just to have some fun with Republicans, Love Communications, Gill’s campaign consultant sent a news release Monday announcing that Gill would make a “major campaign announcement” Tuesday.

It had the desired effect. Calls shot back and forth from frantic Republicans fearing the worst: that Gill would run against new Republican A.G. Sean Reyes.

Instead, Gill, at the scheduled announcement, said he would seek re-election as the county’s D.A.

But the folks at Love had their fun.

Bait and switch II • Former Murray Mayor Dan Snarr still bristles from a campaign battle he had in a re-election bid against David Wilde.

Snarr, a self-described independent, believed the county Republican Party threw all of its partisan weight behind Wilde, then a Republican member of the Salt Lake County Council, and turned the nonpartisan mayoral race into a partisan brawl.

So Snarr, who chose not to seek a fifth term last year, was set to run for County Council as a Democrat against Wilde in what is an overtly partisan race.

But Wilde resigned after being diagnosed with cancer and took a job with the Democrat-led Salt County district attorney’s office. He was replaced on the council by Republican Aimee Winder Newton, whom Snarr likes. In the end, though, Snarr was too committed. He filed Tuesday to run against Newton.

One-party church? During Sunday’s sacrament service at the Delta 5th LDS Ward, leaders announced that political caucus meetings would be held Tuesday and Thursday.

But the letter from the faith’s governing First Presidency was not read in its entirety.

Notably absent, a parishioner tells me, was the section stating “platforms and philosophies consistent with gospel principles may be found in most political parties.”

The time and location of the Republican caucus in Delta were read over the pulpit. No mention was made of the Democratic gathering’s time and location.

One-party town? The West Jordan Chamber of Commerce sponsored a newspaper ad Sunday promoting the “Taste of West Jordan,” which features 18 restaurants with a live band and free food samplings.

The event is in the Conservation Garden Park at the Jordan Valley Water Conservation District headquarters.

In the ad is this statement: “Come visit us before your Republican caucus meeting.”

prolly@sltrib.com