I’m an admirer of Dan Liljenquist, the former Utah state senator who led the charge for pension reform and Medicaid reform in his state. A recent profile in Governing suggests that he is exactly the kind of public servant the country badly needs. As the BYU political scientist Quin Monson told Ryan Holeywell, “he has this reputation for really being able to dig in on the details of complicated problems.” This is not a skill set that is in abundant supply among congressional conservatives, many of whom have the right instincts on policy questions yet who like the granular knowledge it takes to actually see reform efforts to completion. Liljenquist is running Sen. Orrin Hatch for the Utah’s Republican U.S. Senate nomination, a race that U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz chose not to enter, possibly out of the concern that it might divert resources from other races, including the presidential race. I’m sympathetic to Chaffetz on this front, yet I also recognize that Liljenquist might be a rare talent. Utah conservatives have a difficult choice ahead of them.
by Reihan Salam