Archive for the ‘Dan Liljenquist’ Category

Dan Liljenquist’s convention speech

April 27, 2012

Doing the impossible: forcing Orrin Hatch to a primary

April 25, 2012

Two years ago, GOP delegates to the state convention knocked off Senator Bob Bennett, sending now-Senator Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater to a primary.  Orrin Hatch started his campaign for an unprecedented 7th term that very day. The Hatch campaign polled delegates and realized they could not win with that group, so they launched a campaign to target and remove the 75% of delegates that voted for change. “This is not going to be a campaign of persuading delegates,” said Dave Hansen at the time, former GOP party chair, now campaign manager for Hatch. “This is going to be a campaign of replacing delegates.”

They meant business. They hired 36+ staffers, not including the ones they sub-contract with. From January of 2011 through caucus night of this year, they spent almost $6 million.  They targeted primary voters in an older demographic and helped drive caucus turnout to record highs. Six out of seven delegates were new this cycle, were considerably more moderate than previous delegates and many were elected on one simple platform: “I support Orrin Hatch.”

After caucus night, the Hatch campaign claimed victory. They released poll after poll after poll that put them comfortably above the 60% threshold. Senator Hatch trumpeted “Mitt Romney needs me” at every turn. Never mind that Romney endorsed Hatch last September, long before there was a challenger in the race and when Olympia Snowe was still planning on running ….

Even with all of that – $6 million, 2-years of campaigning and a very favorable caucus night, Hatch could not seal the deal on convention day. Dan Liljenquist, his primary opponent, worked hard, holding 108 delegate meetings between caucus and convention. He traveled the state, looked delegates in the eye and answered every question. Dan’s message of true entitlement reform and the need to stop doing what we’ve always done in Washington resonated with delegates. Starting out with poll numbers around 16%, no one thought he had a shot. In fact, one anonymous “insider” said “Romney’s public embrace would hand any candidate a 70 percent chance of victory at the April 21 convention. It’s already over. Orrin Hatch has the election won. He won it caucus night. They don’t even need to have the convention.”

Yet here we are… unstoppable work ethic, hundreds of volunteers, thousands of live phone calls, a powerful speech and Dan got just under 41% of the vote – a 25-point swing in just 3 weeks.

Headed in to the primary, Hatch is already claiming victory – again. But even the national pundits are seeing cracks in the armor, writing articles with titles like “The Meaning of Orrin Hatch’s Nightmare” and “Hatch Heading for a Fall?” Dan Liljenquist has momentum, with hundreds of volunteers flooding his campaign since Saturday and more than 400 individual financial donations in 72 hours. He has passion, he has drive, he has a vision for America’s future – and the ability to lead us there.

We can not change Washington  unless we change who we send to Washington.   We all know it’s broken back there.  You see that reflected in the abysmally low approval ratings for DC politicians, hovering somewhere around 10%.  You also see it in the high rate of turnover. In the Senate alone, there have been 55 new Senators since the end of 2002. Long-time incumbents are passing the torch – ten more Senators are retiring this year, making room for new ideas and fresh faces.  That means a super-majority of the Senate will be turned over in just a decade.  Those new Senators are ready to change the way business is done in Washington – and that means changing the way things have “always been done.”  A primary – Orrin Hatch’s first in 36 years – now means that all Republican voters in Utah have a choice.

Orrin in his own words

March 12, 2012

“We must work to assist in the dismissal of many others who have been dominating our country for years and running us into bankruptcy.”

“Give the people of Utah a choice. We must have a change.” Amen.

Republicans attacking the free market?

February 10, 2012

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. ~ Milton Friedman

You have to wonder what kind of topysy-turvey world we live in when Reublicans – REPUBLICANS! – start attacking the free market. The GOP is supposed to represent liberty, freedom, and individualism. Yet the intra-party attack du jour is to go after those who have had success in the free market. What?!

Creating jobs is now a bad thing. Freedom to try – and to fail – is now frowned upon by some who claim the mantle of Republican. If we refuse to let people fail, doesn’t that then make us the party of bailouts and big government? The beauty of the free market is …. wait for it…..that it’s free! Free to try, free to win, free to fail and free to try again.

Overly burdensome regulations. Heavy taxation. Uncertainty in the market place. All crushing to innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. What business owner in Illinois wants to stay when corporate income taxes went up almost 50% and personal income tax went up 66% – in one year? What business wants to invest in growing when the rules could change on a whim? Businesses that want to be successful in today’s global economy are flexible, nimble – and smart. They grow, they move and they adapt to a changing market – but they don’t stick around waiting to be destroyed by government.

Freedom in the marketplace (and elsewhere!) means freedom to fail. Guaranteeing employment by never firing people is what leads to bloated, inefficient bureaucracies. I fire people all the time and so do you. If I go to a restaurant and the service is poor, I might fire that restaurant by never going back. If I go to a service provider and they are surly and rude, I fire them by taking my business elsewhere. If I buy a product that turns out to be poor quality, I fire the company that made it by not buying their products again. Imagine being forced to eat at that restaurant, go to that provider or buy that product – and to fund this businesses out of your own pocket. That’s a mandate I know *I* don’t want imposed on me, nor on anyone else. So how is it possible that Republicans are now picking up the Obama line?

Obama has set his sights on Mitt Romney, a successful businessman in today’s global economy, for well, being successful. Whether you support Mitt or not, Republicans should be outraged at the attacks on the free market – not joining those attacks. Newt Gingrich, called a “human hand grenade” by Peggy Noonan, looks like an idiot for siding with Obama and arguing against success. It’s not just happening on the national stage, either. This week, Senate candidate Dan Liljenquist was attacked for being a successful businessman, competing on a global stage. Perhaps his detractors need a reminder of what the free market is all about…..

Momentum – Dan Liljenquist’s got it!

February 7, 2012

Join us!

I resigned today

January 6, 2012

This morning, I tendered my resignation as a member of the Utah House of Representatives to join the Dan Liljenquist for US Senate campaign.

It has been an honor to serve the people of District 57. I thank them for allowing me to serve them for the past year. I have SO enjoyed the opportunity to represent them and hope I was able to add to the dialogue on Utah’s Capitol Hill.  I am pleased to say there are many good people in Pleasant Grove who could step into the legislature and continue to advocate for limited government and fiscal restraint. The people of District 57 are good people and I am confident the delegates will choose my replacement wisely.
It was a difficult decision for me and not one that I made lightly.  As I decided to join Dan Liljenquist’s campaign, I knew I could not in good conscience focus on a Senate race AND be fully present during the legislative session.  It would not be fair to my constituents to be distracted by another campaign.  I will continue serving whole-heartedly – it will just be in a different capacity.  At the end of the day, we need good government at ALL levels – and that includes the federal level.

After decades of politicians centralizing power and money in Washington in the misguided belief that somehow a bloated federal government knows best, we have arrived at a critical juncture. Do we continue down the road of big government and massive spending? Or do we face reality, rebalance as a nation and move forward with a limited government that lives within its means? I have not given up on America, but to reclaim its greatness and its shining spot on the Hill, we must change the “business as usual” in Washington. To do that, we must change who we send to represent us.  We need leaders who understand that our debts must be paid, that we must stop spending money we do not have, who will look the American people in the eye and tell them the truth and we need leaders who care more about the next generation than the next election. Dan Liljenquist is that type of leader.

As my children continue to grow up, I’ve had to answer hard questions about the massive debt our generation has saddled them with – $48,500 per person and rising. I am beyond concerned at what their future looks like if we continue down the same path of economic uncertainty, regulatory strangulation and the punishing of innovation and success. Utah enjoys being ranked the best managed state in the nation – but if we cannot fix things at the federal level, it simply will not matter.  We need bold, new leadership and we need it now.

Orrin Hatch ran against incumbent Frank Moss in 1976. As he campaigned, he asked repeatedly “What do you call a Senator who has been there 18 years? You call him home.” Now, almost 40 years later, he has been in office longer than 60% of this state has been alive. He was elected during the Bicentennial year, in an era of wood-sided station wagons, gold shag carpeting, bell bottoms – and a belief that government held the solution to our problems. 

Over the years, his votes have demonstrated a consistent belief that government – particularly the federal government – knows best.  Hatch voted for spending bill after spending bill filled with pet projects and pork, adding millions and millions of dollars worth of his own requests.  He voted time after time after time to increase the debt ceiling, giving us trillions of dollars in debt we have no realistic way to pay for. He laid out the Constitutional arguments for the individual mandate in healthcare – the very arguments later used by others to justify Obamacare. After Hillarycare was killed in the late 90’s, he personally partnered with Ted Kennedy to resurrect part of it, rename it SCHIP and pushed hard to get it passed – over the objections of many fellow Republicans. He decided to pull educational decisions from the states when he created the National Department of Education and then later advocated for No Child Left Behind.  He championed Medicare Part D, the largest entitlement expansion in decades, one that added TRILLIONS in unfunded liabilities OVERNIGHT and called “the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960’s” by the former Comptroller General of the United States.  Just a couple of months ago, our senior Senator went on Fox News and said that we did not need to cut entitlements. The truth is, if we ignore entitlements – the big 3 of “Mandatory spending” – there is no way to pull ourselves out of the abyss we are in.  

We need leaders willing to lay it all on the line and work to fundamentally reform the biggest problems we face today – runaway spending and unlimited debt. We need leaders who will look down the road – not just to the next election – and who will do what needs to be done. Dan Liljenquist has done that in the Utah legislature.  He will do that in Washington. It has an honor to have been asked to join him in his campaign.  There is no question that he is up against a formidable opponent with virtually unlimited amounts of money. This campaign will require lots of hard work from a lot of people. 

I invite you to join me in getting Dan elected. Check out his website at, “like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @DanForUtah, donate time and/or money and join me in being a Dan fan. It’s Time!

New Hampshire gears up for pension reform

December 1, 2011

Facing a $4 billion unfunded liability in its retirement system, New Hampshire is getting ready to introduce pension reform measures in the 2012 session.  As they gear up, the Speaker of the NH House, William O’Brien, invited “National pension reform leader” Dan Liljenquist to address a special committee.

The New Hampshire “Union Leader”, well-known for their political punditry, covered Senator Liljenquist’s presentation.  They write:

The 2008 stock market crash was a disaster for the once fully funded Utah state retirement system, but it set the stage to change the system from a defined benefit to a defined contribution system.

The main architect of the change, Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, briefed the New Hampshire House Special Committee on Public Employee Pensions Reform Tuesday. He talked about changes made to Utah’s system as New Hampshire lawmakers decide if reforms enacted this year and several years ago will be enough to put its system on solid ground.

A special legislative committee released a report last month recommending two retirement systems, one for current workers, and one for those hired after the new plan goes into effect.

Some lawmakers want to pass a law this spring switching all new public workers into a 401(k) plan meant for public employees.

The plan would be a defined contribution plan, where the level of money going into the plan is pre-determined. A defined benefit plan delivers a set of promised benefits in retirement no matter how the financial winds change over time.

The New Hampshire Retirement System is a defined benefit plan.

Senator Liljenquist was also interviewed by a local blogger.

As Senator Liljenquist is fond of saying, these are not partisan issues – these are reality issues. And “reality is not negotiable.” That is why Rhode Island – a Democrat-dominated state – has joined Utah and other states in reforming their pension programs. RI Treasurer, Gina Raimondo, was the architect behind that state’s reforms and spent months consulting with Senator Liljenquist on Utah’s model. Both Raimondo and Liljenquist spoke this week to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government on their reforms. Pension reform will be a top priority for multiple states in the 2012 legislative session.

Utah’s rising star, Dan Liljenquist

November 21, 2011

State Senator Dan Liljenquist recently returned from Washington DC where he received back-to-back awards for his courage and innovation tackling the complex problems of exploding pension and Medicaid costs.

Governing Magazine called Senator Liljenquist the “Change Agent” for his reforms. Each year, Governing chooses only one state legislator, out of over 7000 nationwide, one Governor and a handful of others involved in government at the local level. This year, they also honored the Governor of Arkansas, Mayor of Atlanta, a county executive, a police chief, a judge, a couple of very cool techie innovators working with the city of Boston and the Chancellor from CUNY, the City University of New York. Governing, a non-partisan group, does not appear to care which political party their honorees belong to and in fact, they gave more awards to Democrats than to Republicans. There was one consistent theme however – fiscal reforms. The presenters repeatedly mentioned we were “standing on a burning platform” financially and it was way past time to start addressing the real problems. The award winners were, for the most part, public officials willing to step up and tackle thorny problems head-on.

In addition to the award from Governing, Senator Liljenquist was named the “Legislative Entrepreneur of the Year” by FreedomWorks. The award – given out only a handful of times – has been given to people like now-Senator Marco Rubio, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and then Georgia House Rep Tom Graves, now in Congress. “Legislative entrepreneurs are tenacious political leaders who challenge the status quo and take bold action to advance liberty and limited government. We can thank Senator Liljenquist for the ground-breaking pension and entitlement reforms in Utah that are now the envy of states across the country, and serve as a model for the nation,” read the press release. “The fact of the matter is, while states like New York, Illinois and California are headed for bankruptcy, the financial future of Utah is secure because of Liljenquist’s reforms.”

FreedomWorks praised Liljenquist’s legislative innovation as he introduced free market principles into the “most difficult spending issues in government.” Senator Liljenquist, widely rumored to be challenging Orrin Hatch, caught the eye of a number of national media peeps as well. Check out some of the press he picked up this weekend: Daily Caller, CNNNational Journal, Red State’s Erick Erickson, Politico, the Rising Republican and all over the AP wire.

He felt the love here too. Daily Herald, SL Trib, DNews, Fox 13 and the Standard Examiner all carried stories about his awards and his potential run for the US Senate.  Stay tuned – things are getting interesting!

Senator Dan Liljenquist wins Legislator of the Year

November 2, 2011

Governing Magazine recently named Utah State Senator Dan Liljenquist (R-Bountiful) the legislative Public Official of the Year. Dubbed “The Change Agent” by Governing, Liljenquist was honored for his work as the architect of two of Utah’s most significant pieces of legislation in recent memory – pension and Medicaid reform.

The Public Officials of the Year awards – given out to a handful of national leaders every year since 1994 – have become the nation’s preeminent honor for state and local officials. Congratulatory messages came from all over the state and the nation, including Governor Gary Herbert, Senator Mike Lee and Congressmen Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop.

Senator Liljenquist was quick to praise his fellow legislators. “I’m proud of all my colleagues who put long term financial responsibility above short term concerns,” he said. “This is a victory for the State of Utah.”

His colleagues were equally quick to praise him. Senate President Michael Waddoups, (R-Taylorsville), who said “This recognition says a lot about Dan, but it also says a great deal about the State of Utah.  In other places, innovators like Dan are relegated to the back bench.  Here, smart ideas carry the day.” Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero offered his congratulations and remarked: “Senator Liljenquist’s leadership, attention to detail, and focus on fiscal sustainability has served the State of Utah well.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins stated the obvious – that Senator Liljenquist was willing to tackle some of the “sacred cows” in today’s political arena. “Dan has crafted articulate solutions to intractable problems – said by some to be political suicide – and he has done so in a
way that has become model legislation for others to replicate,” said Senator Jenkins. “Fiscal responsibility is an issue that is at the forefront of every state in the nation right now. We can find solutions. All we need is the courage and good will to make them work.”

The Standard-Examiner ran a story with the headline “Sen. Liljenquist tabbed “Best and Brightest” while the Trib noted that “State Sen. Dan Liljenquist was named the top legislator in the United States.” The Deseret News ran a glowing editorial about Utah’s success story, saying in part that “Utah has managed to take care of long-term systemic problems in ways that make other states envious.”

It is this type of real reform and forward thinking that make Utah the best-managed state in the nation. It’s time we had that kind of political courage and leadership in DC.

Kansas returns millions in federal grant money

August 17, 2011

If states want the federal government to stay out of state business, they must “walk the walk” of being self-sustaining.  That means weaning themselves off federal dollars – and their accompanying strings.

Kansas governor Sam Brownback announced last week that his state is returning a $31.5 million “Early Innovators” grant intended to build “technology infrastructure” for health care exchanges needed under Obamacare.

“There is much uncertainty surrounding the ability of the federal government to meet its already budgeted future spending obligations,” he said in a statement. “Every state should be preparing for fewer federal resources, not more. To deal with that reality Kansas needs to maintain maximum flexibility. That requires freeing Kansas from the strings attached to the Early Innovator Grant.”

He joins Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, who turned back a $54 million grant and a handful of other states who have rejected $1 million grants.

Kansas is working on setting up their own healthcare exchanges to be operated independently of the federal government.  They are also focused on reforming their Medicaid program. Kansas is using Utah’s recent reforms as a model, with the able assistance of Senator Dan Liljenquist who has met multiple times with Governor Brownback, his team and Kansas legislators.  They are committed to keeping their state solvent and self-reliant while maintaining a safety net for their most vulnerable populations.

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