Right On: My Republican primary endorsements

Composite image. Mitt Romney photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons. Brad Last photo courtesy Utah House of Representatives. Gil Almquist photo from Gil Almquist Facebook page, St. George News

OPINION — Three races in Utah’s Republican primary election have my attention: U.S. Senate, Utah House District 71 and Washington County Commission.

I’m for Mitt Romney, Brad Last and Gil Almquist. Here’s why.

I’m a traditional conservative Republican of the Ronald Reagan type. No, I can’t be sure what he’d say about today’s issues and politicians. But looking at his philosophy and accomplishments, the country could use a lot more of his style of politics.

German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck – the one they named the battleship after – said “politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.” Reagan knew this. But too many of today’s politicians on the far right and the far left are ready to fall on their swords rather than settle for the possible.

We’ve got two battles in Congress going on right now that illustrate my point.

For the last 16 months, virtually no Democrat in either the House or the Senate voted for any measure that Trump supported. This “resistance” is purely political in nature: Democrats doing all they can to discredit the president regardless of what’s best for the country.

The Republican Freedom Caucus is no better. Insisting that it’s their way or the highway, they have been blocking the Republican leadership’s attempts to get a winning immigration bill through Congress. For them, any path to citizenship for Dreamers – those brought to this country as children by illegal immigrant parents – must be opposed on principle.

Yet passing a reasonable, compromise immigration bill would be a win not only for Dreamers but for the Republican Party since a significant majority of voters from both parties are in favor. Nevertheless the “art of the next best” is never acceptable to these diehards.

Last fall I wondered whether dysfunctional Republicans would fail the Dreamers. The party will fail if the Freedom Caucus has its way. Showing common sense, more practical Republicans are hoping to enlist moderate Democrats in forcing a House vote on an “attainable” immigration bill.

The same Ronald Reagan that struck deals with his Democratic nemesis, Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, would support a “next best” in this situation.

I have bemoaned how today’s hyper-partisanship is hollowing out the political center. I praised Reagan and Bill Clinton for being willing to work with the other party to find the possible, the attainable, the next best.

I recite this litany of current issues to support my choice of candidates in the Republican primary on June 26. To me, these candidates best represent the mainstream of Southern Utah Republicans and who have the best chance of success in this fall’s general election.

Utah’s senate race has attracted national attention with Mitt Romney’s decision to run for the seat Sen. Orrin Hatch is vacating. Romney gets my vote for several reasons.

First, his extensive experience in both business and public office demonstrates his capacity to get things done, to work with people of all political backgrounds and, when necessary, find the “next best” solution to the nation’s problems.

Some readers will find that objectionable, saying he is too willing to compromise. They prefer ideological purity over results. Not me. Freedom Caucus Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee shut down the government for 16 days in 2013, giving Republicans a black eye and accomplishing nothing. We don’t need more partisan posturing with no hope of success.

Romney’s values and personal life give me confidence in his integrity: Don’t expect #MeToo accusations coming his way. And his stature as a former presidential candidate will give Utah clout in the senate well beyond that of any other freshman senator.

While I don’t know Brad Last as well, his experience in both health care and education make him especially valuable to Southern Utah. He served on the Washington County Board of Education before his election to the Utah House of Representatives. He’s impressed me as thoughtful and knowledgeable when I’ve heard him speak.

Utah is a well-governed state. I see no reason to overturn the apple cart.

Gil Almquist is my hands-down choice for the Washington County Commission. He’s owned a small business here for 36 years. He served two terms on St. George’s City Council and on various city and county committees and boards. With all this experience, Gil knows his way around Washington County’s business and politics. I am confident that he can get things done.

Some will see him as one of the good old boys and want an outsider to shake things up. Many share my concerns about unbridled growth and what that is doing to the fabric of life in the county. I oppose the Lake Powell pipeline while Almquist supports it. I can live with that provided he supports a vote where citizens rather than vested interests can give the project thumbs up or down.

My endorsements are old school. Right wing extremism is a dead end. Life in Southern Utah isn’t perfect but I’ve lived here by choice for 18 years and I’m generally happy with Utah and Southern Utah.

Steady as she goes.

Howard Sierer is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • jaltair June 14, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Thank you for your opinions, I respect what you are saying regarding the candidates and I’ll have to print your blog off for use with my ballot!

  • Not_So_Much June 14, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Same ‘ol, same ‘ol. Kennedy and Davis deserve your support, just look closer.

  • Kilroywashere June 14, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    Voted yesterday. Think I was one of the first in my precinct. They had to sort out a few things before I got my voting key card. Not going to say who I voted for. All I can say is I hope everybody gets out there and does vote. That is what it means to be an American. Those who do not vote have no right to complain. Good luck to all the candidates.

  • Skeptic June 14, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    I”m with you Not So Much. Romney has spent the last 10 years distancing himself from his record as Governor of Massachusetts where he promised the sky but in the end was pretty much just the king of compromise. Now the only real thing we know about him is his never Trump stance and his desire to take the place of John McCain and/or Jeff Flake as the Republican that will happily look for any camera to look into and tell the world he opposes the Trump. Sorry, that’s not enough to get my vote. As for the county commission race, I’m looking for a fresh face. Growing up here and living here for many years I’ve seen too many local elected officials benefit from having inside knowledge about upcoming development and using it to their advantage. There really are other options in these races and we should all take the time to vet the candidates for ourselves and know what their track records really are.

  • Brian June 14, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    I don’t think there is any chance Gil Almquist will let citizens decide whether we get the pipeline.

  • bikeandfish June 15, 2018 at 9:42 am

    A reasonable column.

    My only criticism is that we can’t just blame the “extreme” wings for deadlock. For multiple administrations the trend has bend to vote in ideological blocks, for both the majority and minority parties. We know the democrats are doing it now but only as much as the Republicans did to stop anything with Obama’s blessing on it. Hyperpartisanship is mainstream and even you have been part of the problem with the lazy rhetoric in previous pieces.

    Until both parties and citizens learn to take their lumps with grace and not always blame it on “redneck” conservatives, politically correct libtards pushing identity politics, or activist judges then the cycle will continue. Until we stop thinking in binary terms as nation in which only one side is always right and the other is clearly always wrong then this will get worse. And I’m not convinced that Howard or his ideas are emblematic of the change needed.

  • Voice of Reason 123 June 15, 2018 at 11:08 am

    I think that Mitt Romney is Positioning Himself to become the ANTI TRUMP in the Senate.

    Vote Mike KENNEDY

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