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Rolly: Carl Wimmer goes from Mormon to evangelical

Published October 11, 2013 9:04 am

Column • Former lawmaker, ex-Latter-day Saint wants to be a Christian preacher.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Carl Wimmer was the bull-in-a-china-shop, take-no-prisoners legislator whose uncompromising conservatism and in-your-face approach toward adversaries earned him a fair share of antagonism from some colleagues, while becoming a hero to the far right.

He dressed down a Republican in Utah County who had run against his friend, then-Rep. Mike Morley. He told the challenger he would never work with him on anything because of his treatment of Morley.

He went off in an email to an attorney/physician who offered to buy tickets for all legislators to a screening of "Sicko," by liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, that was an indictment of the U.S. health care system.

He tried to get Utah Commerce Department boss Francine Giani fired for her tenacious pursuit of his friend Rick Koerber, who was eventually indicted by the U.S. Justice Department for running an alleged Ponzi scheme.

He trashed leaders of the Nevada Republican Party during a news conference at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics after he learned they had no intention of making him their political director after he had been led to believe he had the job.

Then he criticized reporters for covering the news conference live, wondering aloud why they had so much interest in him.

He ran an aggressive campaign for Congress and then castigated fellow Republican Steve Sandstrom after the latter supported Mia Love over Wimmer at the Utah GOP Convention.

That was the old Carl Wimmer, the world-class weight lifter, gun-loving cop and super-ambitious politician who showed disdain for liberals and "RINOS (Republicans in Name Only).

The new Wimmer is about peace and love and is working toward being a Christian minister.

"My life has taken a different course; I have different priorities," he said Thursday while informing me he has decided not to seek the House seat in Sanpete County being vacated by Rep. Spencer Cox, R-Fairview, nominated to become Gov. Gary Herbert's new lieutenant governor.

Wimmer had thought about rejoining the Legislature and had mentioned it on his Facebook page. But he is about a year away from graduating from an online program offered by Liberty University, the world's largest Christian university whose chancellor is the Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr.

Wimmer had begun his college studies focused on criminal justice, since his life has been devoted to police work. But he will end up with a double major, the other being biblical studies, which he told me has become his passion.

When he qualifies for retirement from law enforcement, he said, he intends to enter the full-time ministry as an evangelical Christian.

His transformation from that of a lifelong Mormon, he added, began about five years ago. He formally left the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this year. "I love Mormons and I love the church," he told me. "I believe this is a path God has led me to."

After he lost his congressional bid and didn't land the Nevada job, he became a resource police officer at Gunnison High.

Besides his newfound passion in the evangelical community and his school job, his life revolves around his family members, who also have embraced his new faith. His three kids are heavily involved in recreational sports, and his daughter nearly made the U.S. track and field team for 11- and 12-year-olds.

He and his wife, Sherry, also are rearing two severely handicapped foster kids.

"I formerly had no use for kids who were disrespectful, abused drugs and didn't follow the rules," said Wimmer, who once tweeted a "hooray" to a group of police officers for all the bullets they put into a criminal suspect holding a gun.

Now he deals daily with troubled kids, and his attitude, he said, reflects love toward them. "I want to work with them. I want to help them. This is my passion."

prolly@sltrib.com