The Utah Political Swamp may have been caught off-guard by the ragtag group of citizens whose rebellion forced the legislature to kill the Swamp friendly tax reform bill that was rushed through the legislature in a special session just before Christmas 2019. However, it is not going to allow the Swamp to be drained without a fight. So, now it is fully committed to ensuring that Swamp supporting incumbents are re-elected and that their primary challengers who actively supported the tax referendum are defeated. (See below for a list of candidates who actively supported the referendum).
Early on, Governor Gary Herbert, who pushed for and signed the tax reform bill, donated $50,000 to Spencer Cox’s campaign to help maintain the Swamp’s control of the governorship. Major Swamp groups have also donated generously to Cox’s Campaign. In May 2020, Herbert officially endorsed Cox. In addition, state Senator Todd Weiler, who unsuccessfully worked long-and-hard to save the Swamp’s tax reform bill, has strongly supported Cox going so far as to challenge Jon Huntsman Jr.’s commitment to Utah, his religion and even his Utah residency. (Huntsman actively supported the referendum.)
In early May, Senate President Stuart Adams contacted the state’s major Swamp lobbyists and asked them to support incumbent state senators who voted for the ill-fated tax reform bill. Reports are that he has now asked another major lobbying group to send out a last minute mailing in support of Utah Swamp friendly senate candidates.
In addition, Republican state senators who are not up for re-election in 2020 and the Utah Republican Senate Campaign Committee have poured money into the campaigns of Swamp friendly Republican senators who face primary challenges. At the same time, the Utah House Republican Election Committee has dumped $5,000 each into the campaigns of incumbents who voted for the tax reform bill and who face primary challengers from referendum supporters. That funding has been supplemented with donations from individual House members and special interest groups. Meanwhile, challengers are left to fight using their own money. Is it any wonder that incumbents are so seldom challenged or defeated?
Of course, these legislators’ are not donating their personal money. Rather, they are using money that was originally poured into their personal campaign funds by the Utah Swamp and, in many cases, by the Washington D.C., Swamp. That Swamp funding is now being used to save their colleagues who supported re-instating the sales tax on food, imposing a new sales tax on gasoline and taxing services provided by small businesses. (Kinda looks like money laundering).
In June, the Utah [Big Business] Taxpayers Association actively intervened on behalf of both Utah House and Senate incumbents who are opposed by individuals who helped bring about the repeal of the tax reform bill—Willie Billings, Marrilee Boyak, John Johnson, Rich Cunningham, Mike Petersen, Chris Wilson and others. After all, challengers who will oppose the Utah [Big Business] Taxpayers Associations’ continuing efforts to shift the tax burden from Utah’s biggest businesses to low and middle-income Utahns and small business owners cannot be allowed to serve in the legislature.
And now it’s revealed that Senator Dan Hemmert (R-Utah County), the State Senate Majority Whip, recruited his wife’s cousin to run against John Johnson who actively supported the tax referendum. Then seven sitting state Senators who voted to re-impose the sales tax on food, create a new sales tax on gasoline, etc. donated thousands of dollars from their campaign funds to the cousin’s campaign. And then a couple of the state’s top lobbyists, a political fundraiser and Senator Hemmert created a phony term limits PAC that could care less about term limits to support the cousin along with other Swamp friendly candidates around the state.
By voting in the Republican primary and supporting candidates who actively supported the referendum effort, Utahn’s have the opportunity to push back against the Utah Swamp. So, the hundreds of thousands of Utahns who haven’t already voted and want to send the Swamp a message may want to consider voting for the following candidates:
Jon Huntsman, Jr., Governor
Mike Petersen, House District 3
LeAnn Wood, House District 17
Marsha Haight Judkins, House District 61
Marrilee Boyak, House District 56
Willie Billings, House District 71
Karen Humes Hyatt, Senate District 6
Rich Cunningham, Senate District 10
Sylvia Andrew, Senate District 16*
John Johnson, Senate District 19
Chris Wilson, Senate District Senate District 25
* Andrew’s opponent, Senator Curt Bramble, opposed the tax reform bill during committee hearings. He was absent when the bill was voted on so he didn’t cast a vote for or against it. Bramble is the beneficiary of support from the Swamp.