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Rolly: Republican strategist has Herbert in his sights

Published March 13, 2015 1:07 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Veteran Utah Republican strategist Dave Hansen is coming off two impressive victories in a row. In 2012, he orchestrated Sen. Orrin Hatch's win against the same forces that toppled Sen. Bob Bennett in the 2010 Republican convention. In 2014 he guided Rep. Mia Love to a victory, two years after she lost the same race to incumbent Jim Matheson using a different campaign team.

Now, Hansen is going for a trifecta and it may be his biggest challenge of all.

He has agreed to manage the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Jonathan Johnson, chairman of online retailer Overstock.com, against popular Republican incumbent Gary Herbert, who after being appointed governor to fill out the term of Jon Huntsman Jr. in 2009 has won two elections decisively.



Hansen said he has always been a supporter of Herbert, but he believes in two-term limits and Herbert has effectively served two terms.

Johnson taps himself as a conservative candidate and Hansen says he has a bit of Libertarian in him, "as do most Republicans."

Hansen said he has done some lobbying work for Overstock on particular issues and has come to like and respect Johnson.

One issue to watch is the push to impose sales taxes on purchases that are made online. The lack of that sales tax requirement handicaps the brick-and-mortar businesses that have to add the tax to the price of their wares, advocates say. The sales tax expansion has received super-majority support from Utah's Republican-dominated Legislature, which passed a resolution urging Congress to implement that tax.

But Johnson, as head of a major online retailer, has been a leading voice against it.

Another issue is the idea of the state accepting the virtual money, bitcoin, as payment in government transactions. The idea is pushed by the libertarian wing of the Republican Party in the House. Overstock has experimented in that form of payment for its online wares.

Chris Stewart is everywhere • When you go into a county government office building you usually can collect pamphlets about government resources, building codes, public meeting schedules and recreation opportunities.

In bustling Wayne County, population 2,778, you get a bonus.

Right there on a table outside the County Commission offices, in the county government building in the county seat of Loa, is a pile of campaign brochures for U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, who represents the sprawling and heavily gerrymandered 2nd Congressional District in the pretty, great state of Utah.

There's nothing illegal about campaign brochures at government offices as long as all candidates and political parties have equal access.

But who would want to bother?

The campaign brochure for Stewart obviously was prepared and distributed a year ago. It talks about how great he was in his first year of office (he's now in his third year of Congress) and urges the hordes of voters in that part of the state to vote for him again.

His Democratic opponent in the 2014 election, Luz Robles Escamilla, doesn't have brochures there. She is a state senator representing the west side of Salt Lake City which might have different priorities than the good folks of Loa.

Anyway, if you pass through on your way to, say, Capitol Reef, pick up a Stewart ad at your friendly county office building, compliments of the "Friends of Chris Stewart, Inc."

Gerrymandering at its best • Wayne County, by the way, voted for Stewart over Escamilla 855=201 in 2014.

But in Salt Lake County, which has a section in the 2nd Congressional District, Robles defeated Stewart 30,263-16,737.

Alas, it didn't matter how Salt Lake County voted. Districtwide, Stewart defeated Robles 88,915-47,585, largely because Utah's most populous county that also is the home of its capital, Salt Lake City, was split into three districts during the Republican-dominated Legislature's last gerrymandering session.

But if you combine the votes in Salt Lake County from the three districts — 2, 3 and 4 — the Democratic candidates received 4,000 more votes than the Republicans, and that's including Rep. Jason Chaffetz's 12,000-vote plus-margin in the county against an unknown Democratic candidate who didn't even campaign.

So while Salt Lake County voted for the Democrats, all four members of Utah's congressional delegation are Republicans.

Trivia question • Who was Rep.Jason Chaffetz's Democratic opponent in 2014?

prolly@sltrib.com

 

 

 

 

 

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