Situational awareness – January 2, 2018

 Happy new year!

Will he or won’t he? That’s the big political question of the week: Will Sen. Orrin Hatch reveal he’s retiring, or seeking re-election? An announcement could come at any time.

While conventional wisdom says Hatch, with the encouragement of Pres. Trump, will run again, our sources are saying Hatch will retire – but it’s a close call. That’s especially so because Hatch might run again just to spite the Hatch/Trump haters (like the Tribune editorial board that charged him with “utter lack of integrity”, complete with a ghoulish image of him). If he runs, he probably wins. That would be sweet revenge.

But he’s had an amazing run as a U.S. senator, and it’s time to retire. And he needs to announce his plans ASAP. He’s left a lot of Republicans cooling their heels for too long. All signs point to Mitt Romney immediately gearing up a campaign to replace Hatch.

Meanwhile, assuming you survived the supermoon (or wolf moon) it’s back to work for Utahns after a long holiday weekend and a lot of vacation time for many. The fun is over and a big political year is ahead. Here’s our Tuesday rundown:

Tick Tock:

  • Today is the day candidates can begin to declare their intent to gather signatures for the 2018 election (1/2/2018)
  • 20 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 65 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 66 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 72 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 77 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 109 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 116 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 175 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 308 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,036 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Utah highlights

  • poll shows that ideology drives Utahns’ opinions on possible war with North Korea. Democrats think war is likely; Republicans don’t expect war.
  • Bryan Schott notes that while Utah waits for Hatch’s decision, a website for Hatch Foundation goes live (Utah Policy).
  • LaVarr Webb asks: If UTA gets state money, is a major governance change required? (Utah Policy).
  • Deseret News editorial board highlights three on-going stories to watch in 2018: homelessness, rapid growth at the Point of the Mountain, and lack of civility.
  • The Salt Lake Chamber is kicking off a campaign to modernize Utah’s tax code (Utah Policy).
  • Keep monitoring our Candidate Trackers (Congressional races), (Utah Senate), (Utah House) to see who’s running for what.

National/international highlights

  • Optimistic businesses considering new investments and hiring as Trump relaxes regulations (NY Times).
  • California begins the nation’s biggest experiment with recreational marijuana (KSL/Associated Press).
  • Congress will return to a full slate of thorny issues, including DACA and CHIP (Washington Post).
  • Presidential wannabes: Elizabeth Warren positions herself for a potential 2020 run (Politico). No-name congressmen, mayors and other longshots are saying, ‘If Trump can do it, why not me?’ (Politico).
  • International: Iran anti-government protests rage on despite fears of harsher response (Washington Post).  North Korean dictator says he has ‘nuclear button’ but won’t use it unless threatened (Washington Post).

On this day in history

  • 1776: Congress publishes the Tory Act describing how colonies should handle British loyalists.
  • 1974: Pres. Richard Nixon signs national speed limit into law.
  • 1981: British policy catch Yorkshire Ripper serial killer.
  • 1980 – Détente with Russia ends as Pres. Jimmy Carter reacts to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.