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‘The Rundown’: Rep. Steve Christiansen suddenly resigns from the Legislature

Plus: Special session on redistricting will be November 9

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(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Steve Christiansen, R-South Jordan and Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding push for a forensic audit of the 2020 election during Wednesday's Judiciary Interim Committee's meeting on election integrity, to "hear presentations on perspectives regarding election integrity" according to the agenda.

Rep. Steve Christiansen resigns

Just days after addressing a conspiracy-fueled conference in Salt Lake City, Rep. Steve Christiansen, R-West Jordan, suddenly resigned from the Utah Legislature. He announced the move in a letter to colleagues on Thursday night.

Christiansen said his resignation was motivated by increasing attacks on his wife and family from his critics.

“I did not expect to see individuals attack my wife as they have, nor to see the significance of the impact of those attacks on her and our family. Primarily for that reason, it has become necessary to ‘pause,’” Christiansen wrote.

Christiansen has been pushing for an audit of the 2020 election results in Utah as he has become convinced of “anomalies” in the results that he said may point to fraud, although there has been no evidence. He was also planning to run legislation in the 2021 session to prohibit the teaching of “controversial subjects” in schools, which is part of the fight against critical race theory.

Christiansen also said he was “retiring” from his job with the LDS Church to avoid any conflicts.

“The decision to leave Church employment is mine alone. I appreciate the support I have felt for my desire to serve as an elected official. Never have I been pressured to vote one way or another,” Christiansen wrote.

Christiansen says he will continue his podcast and will “remain engaged in the battle to ensure election integrity.”

He is the third Republican in the Utah Legislature to resign in the last few months. Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, stepped down after being appointed to the bench by Gov. Spencer Cox. Earlier this week, House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, unexpectedly his retirement earlier this week.

Republican delegates in House District 47 will choose Christiansen’s replacement.


Redistricting special session coming November 9

Legislative sources have confirmed to “The Rundown” that the special session for redistricting will begin on November 9.

There is a chance other topics may be included on the agenda, including vaccine mandates.

The session is scheduled to go for two weeks, but one lawmaker told me the hope is they’ll finish in a couple of days.


A curveball in House GOP leadership race

After House Majority Leader Francis Gibson announced he was resigning from the Utah Legislature, the conventional wisdom was the rest of the leadership team would all take one step up the ladder.

As expected, House Majority Whip Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, is running to become the new majority leader. But, Assistant Majority Whip Val Peterson, R-Orem, is staying put according to an email from Peterson to the rest of the House GOP caucus obtained by The Tribune.

“Thank you for all the calls and emails over the last few days — I really appreciate many of you reaching out. After much consideration, I have decided to remain in my current position as House Majority Assistant Whip. I thoroughly enjoy this position and representing our caucus on the leadership team. We have achieved a tremendous number of amazing things over the past three years, and I intend to keep that going,” Peterson wrote.

That leaves the House Majority Whip position open. Rep. Jefferson Moss, R-Saratoga Springs, confirmed he is running for that position. A few lawmakers could challenge Moss for the leadership position, including Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, Rep. Melissa Garff Ballard, R-Salt Lake City, and Rep. Joel Ferry, R-Brigham City.

The leadership elections will take place on November 9, right before the special session on redistricting.


Here’s what you need to know for Friday morning

Utah

🐘 Salt Lake City is bidding to host the 2024 Republican National Convention. There are at least seven other cities in the running. SLC was a finalist to host the 2012 convention, losing to Tampa. [Tribune]

🏛 Democratic strategist Donna Brazile discusses infrastructure spending, climate change, and the January 6 investigation. She will speak in Salt Lake City next week. [Tribune]

🦠 After a lull, the number of COVID-19 cases in Utah is starting to spike again. [Tribune]

😷 Gov. Spencer Cox promised one million masks for schools to combat the spread of COVID-19. Many of those masks are still sitting in storage. [KUTV]

🎃 Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema unveiled their “Ted Lasso” themed Halloween costumes. [Tribune]

National

🚨 Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina had “material, non-public information” about the government’s COVID response. He and his brother both dumped stocks before the market dropped in 2020. [Pro Publica]

🌎 The new budget deal announced by President Joe Biden is the most significant climate spending plan in U.S. History. [WaPo]

🏛 The Congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack is growing impatient with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows as they pursue his testimony. [CNN]

🗳 At least 8 Republicans who participated in the January 6 attempted insurrection are running for office next week. [BuzzFeed]

⚖️ Former New York governor Andrew Cuomo has been accused in a criminal complaint of forcibly touching a woman last year. [WaPo]

🦠 The number of new COVID-19 cases is down 60% from the peak of the delta variant wave in September. [CNN]

💉 As many as 12,000 Air Force personnel are facing dismissal for refusing to comply with the COVID vaccine mandate before next week’s deadline. [WaPo]

➡️ The U.S. government is considering making cash payments to hundreds of millions of families separated at the border during the Trump administration. [WSJ]

➡️ President Joe Biden discussed climate and poverty with Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican. [AP]

💻 Facebook renames itself “Meta.” [NYT]


Friday morning’s Utah news roundup

Salt Lake City

  • Salt Lake City renames street in honor of Pastor France Davis. [Tribune]

  • UTA to offer on-demand rides on Salt Lake City’s west side. [Tribune]

  • Inside the two council races to represent Salt Lake City’s west side. [Tribune]

  • Salt Lake City one step closer to tiny home village for homeless individuals. [Tribune]

Education

  • How a $200K grant will help a west-side school bounce back from pandemic challenges. [Tribune]

Politics

  • Voting obstacles remain for Utahns who don’t speak much English. [Tribune]

  • Race for Herriman mayor centers on growth, with echoes of Olympia everywhere. [Tribune]

  • Utahns react to President Biden’s climate change plan. [Fox 13]

  • Cox to form cybersecurity task force aimed at protecting Utah infrastructure. [Fox 13]

Southern Utah

  • New mountain bike trail in Zion National Park part of plan to spread out impact of crowds. [Tribune]

COVID-19

  • Harmons will require unvaccinated workers to pay more for health insurance. [Fox 13]

Opinion

  • Faking urgency doesn’t justify Utah’s no-bid contract to Nomi, Editorial Board writes. [Tribune]

  • Gay Lynn Bennion and Elizabeth Weight: Independent Redistricting Commission’s maps would give a voice to all Utahns. [Tribune]

  • Robert C. Wadman: Countries with the death penalty are not those we’d want to live in. [Tribune]

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