LaVarr Webb

An LG with star power. A couple of Utah gubernatorial candidates have announced their lieutenant governor selections. But no one has landed the best LG of all – Natalie Gochnour.

Gochnour, the director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, is the real deal, bringing all the skills and experience necessary to be a terrific No. 2. She’s the best public policy analyst/expert in the state. She’s a terrific communicator. She’s wise and visionary. A great strategic thinker. Her experience is deep and wide.

There is one big downside to selecting Gochnour, of course -- she might just overshadow the governor. She’s that good. I tried unsuccessfully to get her to run for governor.

Actually, I doubt Gochnour is available. She has a great job and is remarkably influential right where she is. I should confess that Gochnour is a friend. But I did not check with her before writing this little blurb.  She would have insisted that I not do so. She’s probably cussing at me right now. Too bad.

A good LG for federalism. Thomas Wright has selected his LG already – Congressman Rob Bishop. It’s not a bad pick. Bishop could help a governor with congressional relations and especially on public lands issues.

But there’s another area where Bishop could be a big help. As a member of Congress, Bishop was a passionate advocate of balanced federalism. He didn’t make much progress on that issue because most members of Congress have no interest in restoring the sort of federal-state balance the founders intended.

But Bishop could lead a federalism effort from the state level. I believe that’s where the campaign needs originate. Congress will never give up power. States are going to have to press the issue.

I believe balanced federalism is the answer to many of the problems facing the country. Especially the ballooning deficit and the inability of Congress to address key issues. Much of the money now being sent to the federal government should stay at the state level. Congress should not be borrowing money to pay for things that should be done by states.

And if Congress would focus on its constitutional duties and leave the rest to the states, perhaps it could accomplish something.

Bishop could be point person in pushing a strong federalism agenda. I think that’s a good issue for Wright/Bishop – or the other candidates -- to run on.

No need to pander. Utah is going to have a good governor. We have a number of excellent candidates. But I wish the Republicans didn’t feel a need to indulge the hard-core party base on two issues – tax reform and SB54/Count My vote.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox is the only candidate who hasn’t pledged to repeal and replace SB54 – which would ignite a civil war within the party and dry up contributions. And all of the candidates opposed the Legislature’s tax reform effort, even though they know – or should have known – that it solved a serious problem and was very good for low-income and middle-class Utahns.   

I suppose candidates have to do what they think will win votes. But sometimes good public policy is the best political strategy.