One of the more interesting primary battles this year in the Legislature will be between Rep. Craig Frank, R-Pleasant Grove, and Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, in the northern Utah County state Senate District 14.
Like all the 104 legislative districts, Senate 14 was redrawn last fall in the 10-year redistricting process.
And Frank tells UtahPolicy that the new Senate 14 is much different than the old District 14 where Valentine has won easily the last 10 years and more.
The district is more to Frank’s liking, the representative says, since it includes large parts that were previously his Pleasant Grove/Cedar Hills state House seat.
BYU political scientist Adam R. Brown, as he has done in other intra-legislative match-ups this year, compared the voting records of Frank and Valentine over recent legislative sessions.
Both men are veterans, Frank having been in office 10 years and Valentine one of the old-guard lawmakers, serving in both the House and Senate since 1988.
Historically, you don’t find much difference in conservative GOP lawmakers’ votes – usually in the 2-5-percentage range.
But Frank and Valentine have a greater difference in their voting patterns, Adam finds.
In the 2010 Legislature, the two men voted differently 9.7 percent of the time.
That may seem like a small difference. And if one were looking at the votes of a Utah County GOP lawmaker to a Salt Lake City Democrat, it would be.
But a nearly 10 percent difference in voting for two Utah County Republican legislators is, comparatively, interesting.
In addition, Frank missed the 2011 Legislature.
He had to resign his seat because he had accidently moved out of his House District 57 several years before due to an inaccurate Utah County clerk’s district map.
Frank was re-appointed to his old House 57 at the start of the 2012 Legislature when the seat became vacant again, promising his county GOP delegates that he wouldn’t run for re-election in the new District 57 (he actually couldn’t because he hasn’t lived in the new district for six months) and instead would challenge Valentine.
Accordingly, Frank didn’t get a chance to vote on several controversial 2011 bills, like the infamous HB477 GRAMA rewrite, and HB116, the illegal immigrant guest worker program.
Thus, Frank is free to slam Valentine for his “yes” votes on both of those bills.
Brown compared Frank’s and Valentine’s votes for the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 general sessions.
Brown listed by bill the different votes for the 2012 Legislature.
You can see Brown’s bill-by-bill comparisons here.
Eighteen times in the last session Frank voted against bills and resolutions that Valentine voted for.
And a UtahPolicy review of those 18 votes shows some interesting comparisons.
Frank seems to be voting against new state programs that, down the road could cost some taxpayer cash, and against bills that put government more in control of citizens’ lives.
For example, Frank was one of only five House members who voted against HB272, a heavily-lobbied bill desired by House GOP leaders that would put in place a two-year pilot program to provide health insurance for families with an autistic youngster.
The bill, sponsored by House Majority Assistant Whip Ronda Rudd Menlove, R-Garland, was reworked a number of times and at the end of the session was held up in the Senate as both bodies battled over final agreements. It finally passed.
Frank also voted against SB98 which prohibits teenage drivers from using their cell phones in the car and SB116 which would provide a property tax break to Utah military personnel while deployed in a war.
Frank also voted against several bills that would set up state databases of one kind or another.
In fact, it seems Frank was voting much along a libertarian line: Less government, less intrusion into citizen’s lives, even in the cases of valuable social programs like help for autistic children.
Of course, in the 2012 session Frank knew he was running against Valentine and may have wanted to make votes that could separate himself from the senator.
Frank told UtahPolicy at the start of the last general session that he should have an advantage over Valentine because the new Senate 14 included areas where Frank has been on the ballot – and thus delegates and citizens know him -- whereas Valentine’s old district was greatly changed.
But Valentine starts the race well ahead in money. At the end of last year his financial report shows he has $150,000, whereas Frank had less than $1,000.
Money doesn’t play that large of a role in a delegate convention fight, but it does in a primary.
Valentine told UtahPolicy that he expects neither he nor Frank can get 60 percent of the delegate vote in the Utah County GOP convention, and so the nomination will go to a late June closed Republican primary. And there Valentine’s $150,000 will come in handy.
The newly-drawn Senate 14 can be seen here. Zoom into Utah County and Senate 14 is the light green area that includes eastern Orem, parts of Pleasant Grove, Cedar Hills, American Fork and Alpine.