Blogger Curt Bentley says HB477 is an issue the “legislature has gift-wrapped” that could be used to challenge Republican incumbents who voted for it.
Bentley, who blogs at Utah Political Summary, says this is an issue the public and the media cares about. And, it would not be hard to capitalize on that.
The media is fully-invested in its opposition to H.B. 477, and will help to provide something of a very limited version of a bully-pulpit to those who actively wage war against H.B. 477 — especially those who are involved in public hearings and pushing to get the substance of H.B. 477 on the ballot as a referendum. I’m not saying that anti-H.B. 477-types are going to become local political celebrities, but they will have some media coverage made available to them if they seek it — exactly the type of publicity and media attention that challengers to incumbents need so desperately in a primary election campaign. Second, most of the uproar over H.B. 477 arose after our legislators had already put themselves on record as supporting the legislation, with little or no consideration of its consequence. As a result, all of their justifications for their support of H.B. 477 (or for their decision to withdraw their support of it after the fact) are, I believe, somewhat weaker — either because they are attempts to explain why the voted for bad legislation without giving it any consideration (i.e., the leadership introduced it, and we were all busy with other stuff), or simply because the rationalizations come outpost hoc.
Running against an incumbent who voted for HB477 makes challengers sympathetic to the voters and gives them an opportunity to differentiate themselves.
Bentley says HB477 is not enough to propel a challenger to the win, but it will help them mount a credible challenge, which is often difficult when facing an entrenched incumbent.