Gov. Gary Herbert In his role as Utah governor, Gary Herbert should be impresario and animal tamer in this three-ring circus. But unlike his predecessor, Jon Huntsman Jr., Herbert has proved to be weak-kneed in most of his agenda items.And the beasts are ready to pounce at the slightest sign of weakness. Huntsman kept lawmakers in line with his patrician glare alone. But the pack could smell Herbert's fear and promptly mauled him. Case in point: Lawmakers pushed Herbert around in his first elected term. Trying vainly to play reasonable in the face of their rabid positions, the governor could only meekly smile as they attacked his moderate positions on issues from public records to immigration reform to redistricting.
When Herbert did take a stand, he got knocked off his feet. At the end of the session, Herbert thought he had vetoed four bills. But legislators snatched Herbert's whip, called themselves back into session and overrode a Utah governor for the third time in 15 years, not once but twice. They trampled Herbert on big and meaningless issues, like taking away state workers' four-day, 40-hour work week and grabbed $60 million for roads, a cash snatch the governor worried would destabilize school funding. He objected, weakly. "I don't want to just be tilting at windmills and braying at the moon," he complained at his KUED press conference last February. Of course, the politicos treated him the way hungry lions usually treat animals that bray–they ate him alive. This year, Herbert is going to have to really crack his whip if he wants a little respect in the Capitol's center ring.