Utah: A Sagebrush Rebel headed for D.C.

  • Pat Bagley, caglecartoons.com


Utah's most important election this year was held in the springtime, when angry right-wingers overthrew three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett in the Republican primary.

Mike Lee, a lawyer who pushes high-profile Sagebrush Rebel cases, is now the Republican candidate for Senate. And given Utah's history, Lee will almost certainly crush Democrat Sam Granato to win the seat in November.

Granato has solid Utah credentials -- he's a third-generation Utahn, a Mormon, and a successful businessman who's worked with Republicans to modernize Utah's liquor laws -- but Utahns have not elected a Democratic senator for 38 years. They won't break the string this year.

Soon-to-be-Sen. Lee not only wants the federal government to stop regulating federal land, he believes the state Legislature should seize federal land and kill Utah wilderness bills negotiated by county governments. That's a big change from Sen. Bennett, who'd become the best hope for new Utah wilderness: Bennett helped Washington County locals negotiate a 2009 deal with environmentalists that designated 256,000 acres of wilderness while allowing the sale of up to 9,000 acres of federal land, and he's working with other conservative counties to cut similar deals in their pieces of canyon country.

One high-profile state race still holds a tiny bit of suspense. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert faces a challenger from Utah's Democratic stronghold: Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon. Corroon has politics in his blood: He's a first cousin of Howard Dean, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate who also ran the Democratic National Committee and served as Vermont's governor. Corroon speaks Spanish, which should appeal to Latino voters. And he even picked a Republican legislator, Sheryl Allen, to be his running mate.

Meanwhile, Gov. Herbert's own credentials are somewhat questionable. He didn't get elected governor; as lieutenant governor, he got promoted last year when then-Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. became Obama's ambassador to China. Like Huntsman, Herbert has steered to the center right, but lately he's gotten bogged down in a scandal, accused of doing favors for companies that gave him campaign donations.

Still, despite the scandal, the fact remains: Utah has had only Republican governors for the last 26 years.

Best cross-over Sen. Bennett's son, Jim Bennett, has crossed party lines to work as a volunteer for Granato's campaign. He told the Salt Lake Tribune: "If you take the 'D' and the 'R' out of the equation, Sam Granato is more consistent with the values of mainstream Utah than Mike Lee.”



Mike Lee wants the people to decide on land use
Bruce Ogden
Bruce Ogden
Oct 21, 2010 12:45 AM
Two-thirds of Utah land is federally owned and the feds are bent on restricting use of the land by stopping agriculture, ranching, energy production, and even recreation.

This eliminates Utah jobs and tax base. Mike Lee, along with a majority of state legislators, want to return the land that the feds seized from Utah to the state, so Utahns could decide the best use of their land, instead of Washington bureaucrats making those decisions for us.
public land
Oct 24, 2010 11:19 AM
If 2/3 of the land in Utah is federally owned, that means that it belongs to all Americans...not just to Utahans. What don't you get about that? The land was purchased with federal tax monies. Not state monies. People in Utah have the same options as anyone else living in a state whose oportunities, economic or otherwise, don't meet their expectations. They can move on to greener pastures if they so choose.

Federal land use is, and should be, determined at the federal level. There are ample oportunities for public input by all interested parties.
New Sagebrush rebellion
Oct 26, 2010 03:28 PM

Nice try and good use of "Love it or leave it". However, the Federal lands in Utah were public domain lands, not purchased, and were ceded to the Feds when Utah joined the Union. Fact is that these BLM and Forest Service lands, are presently virtually un-managed, (Congress won't appropriate the needed funds and environmentalists do a great job of delaying or stopping management activities). On the Dixie National Forest the F.S. harvests only about 1% of the timber growth from green trees and another 7% in dead tree salvage. Mortality exceeds growth and the forest suffers a net volume loss due to fire, insects and disease. Some management! Check out the figures on http://fia.fs.fed.us/tools-data/
Sagebrush Rebel
W. Fred Sanders
W. Fred Sanders
Oct 22, 2010 05:49 AM
Mr. Ring,

The opposing candidte for governor has tried to find a scandal in Governor Herbert's action but has failed.