‘The Rundown’: Open seat shuffle coming to Utah’s Capitol Hill

Your Wednesday morning Utah political cheat sheet

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Open seat shuffle coming to Utah’s Capitol Hill

There could soon be another new face in the House Republican Caucus.

Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, is set to be confirmed to the bench on Utah’s 2nd District Court when the Senate meets later today.

Hall will have 60 days to be officially sworn in and take the bench as a judge if he’s confirmed. He’ll obviously have to resign, which will give the Republican delegates in his district the opportunity to choose his replacement.

Whoever ends up replacing Hall could be walking into an electoral buzzsaw. Hall hung onto his seat by the skin of his teeth in two of the last four elections.

In 2020, Hall squeaked past Democrat Fatima Dire by 145 votes. Two years ago, Hall bested Democrat Ira Hatch by 1,190 votes, but in 2016 his winning margin was 119 votes, and in 2014 he won by 833 votes.

Obviously, the boundaries of the district will change after redistricting later this year. That will have an impact on the competitiveness of the elections. How much will depend on how drastically the lines shift.

The Salt Lake County GOP says the current plan is to hold the special election to replace Hall on October 14, assuming he is confirmed today and resigns his seat.

Here’s what you need to know for Wednesday morning

🗳 Gavin Newsom easily won the recall election on Tuesday night. Voter’s rejected the recall attempt by nearly 30 points. [Los Angeles Times]

📖 According to a new book, General Mark Milley was so fearful former President Trump might start a war in a desperate bid to remain in office following his election defeat. Miley called his Chinese counterpart to warn him. [WaPo]

  • Milley also feared Trump might “go rogue,” and he took secret precautions to stop him from initiating a nuclear strike. [CNN]

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Milley Trump should have been “arrested on the spot” for inciting the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. [CNBC]

  • Trump called his allies in Congress and at Fox News, telling them to demand that Milley be arrested for treason for his post-election maneuvering. [Daily Beast]

  • President Joe Biden overruled attempts by members of his cabinet to slow down or stop the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. [CNN]

😷 Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson says Utah leaders need to “step up” and support mask-wearing to slow the spread of the virus. [Tribune]

  • The Salt Lake City Council extended Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s mask mandate for K-12 students. The requirement will remain in place for at least 30 more days. [Tribune]

🦠 Health officials say parents are refusing to talk to them, so it’s likely the number of COVID-19 cases in the state are undercounted. [Tribune]

  • Kids in Utah schools aren’t being notified of a COVID exposure until it’s almost too late for them to quarantine. [Tribune]

🏛 On Utah’s Capitol Hill:

  • No vote was required from legislative leaders to advance a plan to spend $3 million on an overflow shelter for the state’s overflow population. There was a hope the top budget committee would veto the plan. [Tribune]

  • Despite recent rains, the state’s water outlook is still worrisome as Utah grapples with long-term drought. During the Legislative Water Development Commission, there was some talk that Utah should dam more rivers to increase water supply. [Tribune]

  • The cost for fighting wildfires in Utah was below estimates, translating into cost savings for the state. But, officials warn the state’s fire danger isn’t over yet. [Tribune]

💉 Pfizer executives say they will seek approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids in November. [Financial Times]

💉 U.S. military members have been told they must be vaccinated against the coronavirus by mid-December or face dismissal. [NYT]

⚖️ The Justice Department asked a federal judge to block the enforcement of Texas’ new restrictive abortion law. [WaPo]

⚖️ Utah prosecutors are urging lawmakers to pass a proposed bill to abolish the state’s use of the death penalty. [Tribune]

📺 During a television interview, former President Trump predicted the complete destruction of America by 2024 but also teased he may run for president again. [Huffington Post]

📉 Poverty in the U.S. declined last year, mostly due to trillions of dollars of federal pandemic aid. [NYT]

🚨 President Joe Biden said the need for action to combat climate change is becoming urgent. “We don’t have much more than 10 years,” Biden said during a speech in Colorado. [NYT]

🦠 Treating unvaccinated COVID-19 patients has cost $5.7 billion, according to a new analysis. [CNN]

💻 Internal documents show Facebook knows the popular photo-sharing app Instagram is toxic for teenage girls. The social media giant has downplayed the issue in public. [WSJ]

⚽️ U.S. Soccer offered identical contracts to the Men’s and Women’s national teams, offering both squads equal pay. [Yahoo!]

😢 Comedian Norm Macdonald died after a 9-year battle with cancer. He was 61. [WaPo]

🗓 Today’s agenda

8:00 a.m. - The Utah Senate meets to vote on Rep. Craig Hall’s nomination to be a Utah District Court Judge.

8:30 a.m. - Business and Labor Interim Committee

8:30 a.m. - Education Interim Committee

8:30 a.m. - Government Operations Interim Committee

8:30 a.m. - Health and Human Services Interim Committee

8:30 a.m. - Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

8:30 a.m. - Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Interim Committee

10:00 a.m. - Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson participates in housing at The Point discussion.

11:00 a.m. - Gov. Spencer Cox meets with Ernst and Young (Washington, D.C.)

1:00 p.m. - Gov. Cox meets with the American Enterprise Institute (Washington D.C.)

1:15 p.m. - Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee

1:15 p.m. - Judiciary Interim Committee

1:15 p.m. - Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee

1:15 p.m. - Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee

1:15 p.m. - Transportation Interim Committee

3:00 p.m. - Lt. Gov. Henderson visits the Summit County Clerk’s office

4:15 p.m. - Lt. Gov. Henderson visits the Wasatch County Clerk’s office

6:00 p.m. - Lt. Gov. Henderson attends the Utah State Association of County Commissions and Councils meeting in Midway.

Mail your calendar items to TheRundown@sltrib.com.

Wednesday’s Utah news roundup


  • Judge tosses out James Huntsman’s tithing lawsuit against LDS Church, but an appeal looms. [Tribune]

  • Still waiting for your tax refund? You’re going to have to be patient. [Tribune]

  • Smile, Utahns. After all, you live in the happiest state. [Tribune]

  • Salt Lake City is no ‘Gotham City,’ but business coalition says crime, camping has to stop. [Deseret News]

  • Why a Utah doctor’s group opposes abortion ban in first trimester. [Deseret News]


  • Numer of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Utah continues to rise. [Tribune]

  • University of Utah offering weekly COVID-19 tests to families of students and employees. [Deseret News]


  • Salt Lake City mayor puts new trail construction on hold to rethink approach. [Tribune]

  • A race against time on the Bonneville Salt Flats. [Deseret News]


  • Romney to Blinkin: ‘You knew there was no way you were going to get all these people out in time.’ [Deseret News]

  • What Mitt Romney, Mike Lee said on the Senate floor about fallen Utah Marine. [Deseret News]

On the opinion pages

  • Rob Wesemann and Jean Hill: Help us find a shelter for the homeless before winter sets in. [Tribune]

🎂 You say it’s your birthday?!!

Happy birthday to former Utah state Representative and current Weber County Commissioner Gage Froerer.

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