- Economics undergraduate degree and law degree
- Former consultant at Bain & Company
- President and COO of an inbound call-center company
- Lives in Bountiful
- Elected to State Senate in 2008
- chiefly responsible for Utah’s nationally recognized and game-changing pension reform legislation that put the state’s pensions on a sustainable path and assured the state would not suffer the same fiscal challenges as California and New York.
- Worked tirelessly to push comprehensive medicaid reform. If successful this would make Utah the first state in the Union to cap medicaid spending!
- Says that the way to get comprehensive reform passed is to look people in the eye, not to make issues partisan, and to refrain from calling them names.
- Eliminated state pensions for legislators as part of reform. Calls for the same sorts of changes in Washington.
- Wants to eliminate mandatory sentencing in drug convictions
- Strong advocate of comprehensive entitlement reform
- Strict constitutionalist who sees the fight for state’s rights as cutting across party lines
- The Utah Taxpayers Association named Dan the Taxpayer Advocate of the Year award two years in a row
- Governing Magazine awarded Dan “Public Official of the Year”
- In the first half of his first term as a State Senator he tackled issues which are literally leading to the near fiscal collapse of much larger states with greater resources like California and New York. He literally worked FULL TIME as a “part time” legislator to push his reform proposals through and Utah is now the envy of the nation because of his work.
- Dan’s economic policy background is comprehensive, which would serve Utah well in the Senate. It can be argued that Dan’s strong background in economic policy and his work on Pension and Medicaid reform in Utah could he instrumental in securing him one of the soon to become open seats on the Senate Finance Committee not usually available to freshmen.
- Dan Liljenquist would enter the United States Senate as a national celebrity who’s work in Utah has become the envy of every other state in the Union and has been heralded by national journalists as representing the obvious way forward for states hoping to survive the current economic downturn and looming entitlement crisis.
Con #1 – Inexperience
- Dan Liljenquist is a first-term State Senator who vacated his position to seek a seat in the United States Senate. While it can be argued that Liljenquist accomplished five terms worth of reform in the half term he served, it is still important to note that Utah would be sending an exceptionally fresh representative to Washington D.C. to do battle with the big dogs.
- Liljenquist makes the argument that he will be better suited than most to push reform through the United States Senate because of his experience working with Democrats at the state level here in Utah and in other states across the country. I personally believe that this is a very naive viewpoint to take to the U.S. Senate. Unlike state Senators in Utah and other state legislatures, Democrats in the U.S. Senate have no interest in listening to the gripes of the states, uniformly believe in a “living constitution” which can be re-interpreted to agree with today’s sensibilities, view European socialism with envy and believe every problem can be solved by greater federal control. Furthermore, Dan Liljenquist will have little clout when trying to change the minds of experienced liberal politicians like Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein. Who among us really believes Dan Liljenquist would have been able to talk a Barbara Boxer out of supporting ObamaCare?
- Dan counters that the lions of the Senate are leaving and that newer members will be easier to sway. With Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden gone he has a point…but it’s a stretch.
If you view a political campaign as a proxy for how a candidate will organize and manage his professional office, then you cannot ignore the fact that the Liljenquist campaign has been a disaster! Examples of this constitute cons #2 & 3.
Con #2 – Staffing choices illustrate an alarming pattern of service
- Dan Liljenquist Volunteer coordinator was elected Utah County Republican Party Vice-Chairman in a hotly contested race in 2011, but quit after only a few months because she felt it was “a waste of [her] time.”
- Dan Liljenquist’s Campaign Manager was elected to replace Craig Frank in the State Legislature after he lost his seat in a mapping error. She then quit a few months later to join the Liljenquist campaign requiring a third legislative election in the district. This is personally annoying to me because I live in the precinct which was disenfranchised due to the mapping error.
- When considered in combination with Liljenquist’s own abdication of his Senate seat part way through his first term, the above examples are a source of concern – especially since the Senate requires a minimum six year commitment, hopefully with a cohesive Senate staff.
Con #3 – Negative campaigning reflects badly on judgement
- While Dan Liljenquist denies any involvement with Freedom Works and their efforts to flood our media market with negative ads and to manipulate our caucuses, it cannot be ignored that Liljenquist staffers including his campaign manager redistributed the material and actively participated in the negative campaigning. In my view this illustrates a lack of leadership on Dan Liljenquist’s part because he did nothing to stop the effort and only spoke out against the work Freedom Works was doing to manipulate our state caucus system after it caused a backlash in statewide on caucus night.
- Not only does the Liljenquist campaigns participation in the negative campaigning this cycle illustrate a lack of leaderhsip on Dan’s part, but it also illustrates a lack of understanding of Utah voters. Political strategists who have watched Jim Matheson’s half-dozen successful election races will note that the main advantage Matheson enjoys over his opponents is that few of them understand that negativity does not sell in Utah.
- As recently as three weeks before the URP State Convention state delegates reported being lured into focus groups where negative campaign messaging against Hatch was being tested by the Liljenquist campaign for $100 a piece. It is my opinion that using state delegates as guinea pigs is in poor taste.
Bad press (common misconceptions regarding Dan’s record and the truth behind the accusations)
- Dan Liljenquist missed 24% of his votes in the State Senate
- [counter argument] Dan was working on his landmark pension reform legislation at the time, personally going door to door through the House lobbying members of both parties for support. The Senate Leadership was aware of his efforts and arranged to have the bailiff come and grab Dan if his vote were ever really needed.
- Dan Liljenquist went on vacation to avoid a politically sensitive but important special session on redistricting which only occurs once every ten years
- [counter argument] Dan un-knowingly scheduled a Disney Cruise for his family when the special session was to occur and since it was a special session, he could not have known far enough in advance to avoid the conflict (cruises are scheduled months in advance and tickets cannot be changed last minute).
- Dan only served part of his first term in the State Senate and it therefore a quitter
- [counter argument] Dan counters that he accomplished more in his first two years in the State Senate than many legislators accomplish in their entire careers.
- The Deseret News reports that a member of Liljenquists own precinct called him out for failing to complete a single term for the office he was elected for
- [counter argument] Dan points out that although the caucus goer who made the statement was a resident of his precinct, he was also a volunteer for the Hatch campaign.
- The Utah Taxpayer’s association gave Dan a 67% rating for conservatism in 2010, includign a negative mark for voting to increase cigarette taxes by 148%
- [counter argument] The taxpayer association noted that if Dan’s missed votes were counter his rating would have been 75% which is higher than the average.
- Dan received the organization’s taxpayer advocate award the same year he received the 67% rating
- [counter argument] One knock against Dan was for voting to expand Utah transportation initiatives, which he argues was good for the state
- Liljenquist criticized Orrin Hatch for voting to begin the SCHIP program while voting to expand the program while he served in the State Senate
- [counter argument] Dan actually was voting to eliminate a ridiculous disparity in the SCHIP program between legal and illegal immigrants. The program mandated a 5-year waiting period for the children of LEGAL immigrants in this country, but required no waiting period for the children of ILLEGAL immigrants. Dan merely voted to end the disparity rather than voting to add a waiting period for illegals.
Dan Liljenquist is a talented legislator who has worked hard to better the state’s balance sheet through pension reform and deserves a credit for helping Utah earn a reputation as one of the best managed states in the country. If elected, he would be a strong and articulate voice for entitlement reform, constitutional government and state’s rights.
However the Liljenquist question really comes down to whether you believe that Dan will be able to go to Washington and be as effective in the United States Senate as he was in the Utah State Senate? Initially this website’s administrators had only slight reservations when considering the question, mostly due to my doubts that Dan would be able to make it onto the Super-A Senate Finance Committee. After watching Dan’s organization function however, we began to have serious doubts about his ability to run a successful office in Washington and frankly about the subtle arrogance of his campaign. We’re also afraid that his short but mostly positive experience in the Utah state legislature has given him a false sense of confidence about his prospects for building the same kinds of support in Washington for broad and bold reform. We also find Liljenquist’s record outside of pension reform somewhat lacking.