Voters say that the economy is the most important issue. If that's the case, then Gary Herbert should get their vote for governor.
His campaign slogan easily could be "Utah is open for business." He says he judges almost every issue by whether it will help or hurt economic opportunity in Utah. That relentless focus is why Gov. Herbert is worthy of another term in office, this time for four years.
He deserves credit, with the Republican Legislature, for the fiscal prudence that positioned Utah to withstand the Great Recession with minimal pain, at least compared to other states, and for the pro-business tax and regulatory policies that encourage expansion. That, basically, is his platform.
Herbert is not a flashy guy. He's plainspoken. With Gary, what you see is what you get. We like that.
He's raised our ire a couple of times, most notably when he signed the infamous HB477 that would have gutted the state's open-records law. But he called for and accomplished the repeal, and he helped to find a better solution. That's an example of how he has grown in office.
He also is a cautious guy. He tends not to commit himself to a position until he has gathered information and sought the advice of others. He appoints task forces to study knotty issues like energy development and education reform. But Utah is a conservative state, not given to bold experiments, especially with government programs. Herbert's studied approach fits the state's temperament.
He's a conservative Republican in the Utah mold, so he is unlikely to cross the Legislature, which is dominated by like-minded leaders. But he rightly vetoed a bill that would have gutted sex education in the public schools, and he is among the leaders who took a stand for the Utah Compact, which advocates a humane approach to immigration reform.
If there's a serious issue with Herbert, it's that he's too close to business interests, particularly energy and real estate developers, as reflected in his campaign fund-raising.
His Democratic opponent, Peter Cooke, has done a good job of highlighting the I-15 bidding, health-data and liquor business controversies that have hurt Herbert. A retired general in the Army Reserve, Cooke also has worked in economic development, though he has never held elected office. He makes a strong argument for better strategic planning for education and water and against tax revenue earmarks.
But Herbert has experience in office. He helped to guide Utah through tough economic times successfully. He deserves another term.