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Sent on Mormon-News: 12Jun01

By Rosemary Pollock

With Hatch Out of Majority, Hansen Gains Power in Utah Delegation

WASHINGTON, DC -- Rep. Jim Hansen's recent chairmanship of the House Resources Committee still has the 68-year-old Utah Republican thinking of the folks back home when he wants his anti-abortion vote recorded. He says he is still one of them after 20 years since coming to Washington. He may try to downplay Sen. Orrin Hatch's recent ouster as Judiciary chairman in the Senate, but everyone knows Hansen is challenging Hatch as the new powerhouse of Utah's congressional delegation.

At a recent luncheon speaking engagement, Hansen tells a joke about a beautiful parrot that quotes scripture and sings opera for $25,000 and the ugly one down in the corner for $200,000. "The difference," he tells the crowd to uproarious laughter, "is that all the other parrots call him 'Mr. Chairman.'"

"The chairman around here are everything," Hansen declares admitting that he refers to them collectively as the "The Cardinals." "There's only one thing you need to remember when dealing with a chairman," Hansen explained. "Don't get in his way if you don't want trouble...You know, I'm speaking raw politics."

Hansen started his political career 42 years ago in Farmington as a city councilman. He recalls how, as a young family man working to put himself through school, he used to strive to "squeak out" $5 now and again to send to the Sierra Club because they were engaged in good work, planting trees and preaching responsible stewardship.

"I believe in moderation and I also believe that there is a middle ground in most of this stuff," Hansen says. He tells of his friendship with Bruce Babbitt, former U.S. Interior secretary and a favorite target for Western conservatives. "You know one of the last things he said to me?" Hansen confides, a twinkle in his eye. "He said, 'Don't let the damned environmentalists ruin the West.'"

"I'm the poster child for the Sierra Club," Hanson proudly says. Hansen revels in baiting the environmental lobby, which he suggests exists largely to churn its fund-raising machine and perpetuate itself without ever resolving wilderness disputes. "They have built an entire industry around this one word, called wilderness," Hansen says.

Controversial as he is, Hansen does not worry about making too many enemies or not cultivating enough friends. "You know, I never get paid for trying to please people. I just do what I think is right and if they don't like me, they've got every two years they can give me the old heave-ho," he said.

"You know the problem with Utah is we've got the LDS mentality, which is 'release them with a vote of thanks--get them out after a few years,'" Hansen said. "What they don't understand is that back here seniority is everything."


Hatch's Lost Power Makes Hansen Utah's Point Man in Congress
Salt Lake Tribune 10Jun01 T2
By Dan Harrie: Salt Lake Tribune


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