‘The Rundown’: This week’s winners and losers in Utah politics

Your Friday morning Utah political news cheat sheet

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Good morning Utah and TGIF!

Thanks for reading “The Rundown”.

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This week’s winners and losers

⬆️ Stock up: Sen. Mike Lee. Lee’s re-election bid got outside support from the Club for Growth, who sent at least three mailers (so far) attacking former state Rep. Becky Edwards who is challenging Lee for the GOP nomination next year.

Lee also scored some big political points when he tore into David Chipman, President Joe Biden’s nominee to head up the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms during his confirmation hearing. Lee hammered Chipman for his “utterly condescending attitude” toward gun owners.

⬇️ Stock down: Utah’s state and national parks. Visitors are overwhelming the parks, which won’t help with the backlog of maintenance projects. The good news is Utah lawmakers budgeted $67 million to take care of some of those needs. The bad news is the money won’t be available until the next fiscal year, which doesn’t begin until July 1.

⬆️ Stock down: Utah’s COVID-19 vaccination rate. President Biden set the goal of having 70% of Americans getting at least one dose of the vaccination by July 4. According to a New York Times analysis, Utah won’t hit that milestone until September. But, Utah is not as bad as some other states. Wyoming, our neighbor to the northeast 10 months from meeting Biden’s goal. Alabama and Mississippi are more than a year away.

Here’s what you need to know for Friday morning

Local news

  • Gov. Spencer Cox is asking Utahns to pray for rain amid the worsening drought in the state. [Tribune]

  • The labor shortage is hitting businesses at the new Salt Lake City International Airport. Food concession businesses say anywhere between 20% and 50% of jobs are unfilled. [Tribune]

  • A Salt Lake City school board member was arrested as part of a child porn investigation for allegedly downloading images of child pornography and engaging in explicit online conversations with children. [Tribune]

  • The Utah Jazz announced Vivint Arena would go to full capacity beginning with second-round playoff games. [Tribune]

National news

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence said he and former President Donald Trump might never “see eye to eye” on the January 6 attempted insurrection by a mob of Trump supporters. Pence called it “a dark day in the history of the United States.” [Politico]

  • A forthcoming Senate report will detail the security failures that led to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Still, it will stop short of examining former President Trump’s role in the attempted insurrection. [CNN]

  • Republican senators are set to reject President Joe Biden’s proposal to pay for infrastructure with a 15% minimum corporate tax instead of an overall tax hike. [Washington Times]

  • Progressives in Congress are growing more worried that Biden’s quest to cut an infrastructure deal with Republicans is doomed to fail. [Politico]

  • New jobless claims in the U.S. fell for the fifth straight week. [AP]

  • Republicans are ramping up the pressure for an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. [Politico]

  • After a two-year legal battle, former White House counsel Don MCGahn will finally submit to a subpoena and testify before Congress. [WaPo]

  • The Biden administration is mulling cyberattacks against Russian hackers after several high-profile ransomware attacks. [NBC News]

  • President Biden issued an executive order banning investments in Chinese firms that facilitate human rights abuses. [The Hill]

  • The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for political donations made through his former firm. [WaPo]

  • Facebook is ending a policy that exempts politicians from content moderation rules that apply to other users. [The Verge]

  • A new report says American intelligence officials have found no evidence that unidentified objects encountered by Navy pilots are alien spacecraft. Still, they cannot explain what they might be or their origins. [NYT]

“Utah Politics” podcast

This week I’m joined by Axios race and justice reporter Russel Contreras to discuss how the fight over critical race theory is playing out in other states.

You can listen and subscribe for free here.

Friday’s Utah news roundup


  • Enter the world of the Goodwill Outlet bins, where some Utahns are feeding the ultimate side hustle. [Tribune]

  • Century-old San Juan County trading post named 1 of 11 ‘endangered’ US historic sites in 2021. [KSL]

  • Weber County official probes fix to mobile home park issue as rent hike takes effect. [Standard Examiner]

  • Ogden PD now considering immigrant applicants, allowed under new Utah measure. [Standard Examiner]


  • 46% of Utahns have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. [Tribune]

  • A front-line COVID-19 investigator will succeed Dr. Angela Dunn as Utah’s state epidemiologist. [Tribune]

  • Will Utah see a post-Memorial Day surge in COVID-19 cases? [DNews]


  • Utah Rep. Blake Moore describes scary day at the Capitol, defends his vote for a Jan. 6 investigation. [Tribune]

Local Government

  • Utah lawmakers considering charging for miles driven on the road. [FOX13]

  • Spanish Fork City Councilmember Mike Mendenhall announces run for mayor. [Daily Herald]

  • Residents have until Monday to throw hat in candidate ring. [Daily Herald]


  • Threat of record heat prompts warnings, advisories across Utah. [KUTV]

  • Early shutdown likely for Pineview Water Systems customers. [KSL]


  • Potential end to Redwood Drive-In Theatre would devastate local sellers at swap meet. [FOX13]

  • With new tourism brand, Salt Lake aims to be America’s ‘meeting place’. [KSL]

On the Opinion Pages

  • Robert Gehrke: Does LDS faith drive fringe views? Not as much as you might think. [Tribune]

  • Jay Evensen: As the drought worsens, let’s not be stupid. [DNews]

  • Bryant Jensen: Equity in education should not lead to hysteria and fear. [DNews]

🎂 You say it’s your birthday?!!

Happy birthday to Sen. Mike Lee and Justin Harding, former Gov. Gary Herbert’s chief of staff.

Got a birthday you’d like us to recognize in this space? Send us an email.

--Tribune reporter Connor Sanders contributed to this newsletter.

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