The Fix: The Rising

Who is Dan Liljenquist?

State Sen. Dan Liljenquist might run for Senate next year. (Official photo)

More than a year ago, we profiled Dan Liljenquist, the man who pushed Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch into a June 26 primary by keeping the incumbent under 60 percent of the vote at this past weekend’s state party convention. With Liljenquist back in the news, we thought it was worth re-posting our profile. Here it is:

Entitlement reform is on the lips of every Republican politician these days, and that’s good news for Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist.

His party’s leadership picked the first-term legislator to reform the state pension system last year. The plan he came up with – along with the methodical way he crafted it – won accolades even from his political opponents. A year later he took on Medicaid reform, with similar results. Now, Liljenquist is preparing a likely primary campaign against Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) in 2012, in his short political career he has two solid achievements to run on.

“I have not decided what I’m going to do yet, but I am very certain that somebody has to tackle entitlement reform in this country or we're not going to survive,” Liljenquist said in an interview for the Fix’s Rising series that looks at up and coming politicians. “[Hatch is] a good man, he’s never embarrassed the state of Utah, but I haven’t seen a lot of leadership from anyone on these issues.”

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John Sanchez’s second chance to rise

A decade ago New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R) was the fastest rising star in the Land of Enchantment.

As a successful owner of a roofing company and one-time airline steward (!), the businessman upset a 30-year incumbent Democratic speaker of the state House in 2000. It was “the biggest upset, some would say, in the state’s history,” Sanchez noted proudly in a recent interview with The Fix as part our “Rising” series highlighting political up and comers.

Two years later, Sanchez set his eyes on a bigger prize: the governor’s mansion. Unfortunately for him, he ran into a juggernaut by the name of Bill Richardson. The former Clinton administration official soon drowned Sanchez with money and dispatched him with ease, 55 percent to 39 percent.

The Rising

After taking some time away from politics, Sanchez, still only 48 years old, re-entered political life in November with a big win in the state’s lieutenant governor primary, after which he was joined with now-Gov. Susana Martinez on the party’s successful general election ticket.

Just months later, with Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) announcing his retirement from the Senate, Sanchez is again going for a promotion.

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The Rising: Josh Mandel, young powerhouse

Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel shows off the shoes he wore out campaigning in a speech at CPAC 2011
Ohio’s newest state treasurer is only 33. He’s also a Marine who served two tours in Iraq, a lawyer, a two-term state legislator, a former city councilman and a prolific fundraiser.

That’s why even at his young age, Josh Mandel is being talked about as a potential challenger to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) next year. It’s also why he’s the latest politician to be profiled in our serious “The Rising,” an occasional look at up-and-coming stars around the country.

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