This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The late 1950s conservative firebrand J. Bracken Lee was one of three non-Mormons ever elected Utah governor since statehood (the others were Simon Bamberger in 1916 and George Dern in 1924).
Lee used to say that you don't have to be LDS to be elected governor in Utah as long as you don't do anything to make Mormons mad.
Gubernatorial candidate Michael Weinholtz apparently hasn't heard that advice. If he has, he's not heeding it.
The Democrat is sponsoring a campaign fundraiser Friday at the Salt Lake Acting Company featuring the play "Saturday's Voyeur," an annual parody of Utah politics and culture that takes special aim at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This year's lampooning portrays the faith's founder, Joseph Smith, as a predatory lecher, something that wouldn't sit well with most Mormons, who make up the vast majority of the state's electorate.
Don't get me wrong. The annual production is always well done and well received. Audiences love it. But those crowds are decidedly liberal.
LDS social-media sites have pointed to the fundraiser as evidence that Democrats don't want or care to earn Mormon votes in Utah.
Oh, well. There's always that Salt Lake City mayor's slot available to them.
Rumbling in the ranks • A coup is quietly taking place in the Utah House that, if you believe the head counters among GOP legislators, will topple House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, when leadership elections take place after Election Day.
Sources close to the vote-counting say it's already a done deal. Assistant Majority Whip Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, will beat Dunnigan among their GOP colleagues.
The reason, insiders say, is not that Dunnigan is disliked or is seen as incompetent. Indeed, he has shown himself to be a forceful leader, heading the House committee that investigated former Utah Attorney General John Swallow and leading the panel that examined health-care options for the state.
Dunnigan's problem is that he represents a swing district in Salt Lake County and has taken moderate positions on key issues that satisfy his constituents rather than the more extreme elements of the House GOP caucus.
The most prominent example: the Medicaid expansion debate in the past session. Dunnigan argued for a larger pool of eligible Medicaid recipients than the caucus was willing to fund. The result was a final solution that covers only the poorest of the poor and leaves tens of thousands of needy Utahns uncovered.
That's what the caucus wanted. Dunnigan lost that fight and now stands to lose his leadership post as well.
The opposite effect • Speaking of consequences for representatives having to choose between their caucus and their constituents, former House Speaker Greg Curtis represented a swing district in Sandy several years ago and opted most of the time to side with his ultraconservative colleagues.
That led voters ultimately to dump him in the general election in favor of Democrat Jay Seegmiller.
Jumping the gun? • Jordan School Board member Kayleen Whitelock accompanied other district officials at a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 25 for a new STEM-focused charter school in Herriman that also will be a soccer training facility for its students.
That was five days before the school board's Aug. 30 meeting in which it voted to support the school, being built and funded by Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen.