I am not surprised that Chris Buttars and the NRA can sink anything in the legislature out of ignorant vindictiveness. But here's what surprises me: Gov. Jon Huntsman is very weak.
In case you forgot, two weeks ago Huntsman won by the biggest margin of any governor up for election this year. He should have clout with the legislature like President-elect Obama supposedly has with Congress. Then again, Obama is not spending any of it on things like punishing Joe Lieberman for disparaging him for two years (and campaigning against him and a number of other Senate Democrats). So did Huntsman let Hilder let his Court of Appeals nominee twist in the wind? Did he see the writing on the wall?
Attorneys of all ideological stripes supported Hilder because he is a good, ethical judge and not anti-gun or whatever crap his detractors claimed he was. I have had occasion to go before him, hear him at CLE events, and talk to him on a personal level and you could have added me to the list of supporters.
Hilder was a pawn in a political show of force by the intransigent legislature heck-bent (this is Utah after all) in stymieing the will of the people. This time it was the NRA, next time it could be the culture warriors or any other member of the parade of horribles that make up their the lobbyist and wingnut base of supporters.