Olene Walker on today’s politics

Early in the morning, before the heat becomes intolerable, Olene Walker straps on her sandals, boards her golf cart and plays 18 holes. v It’s easy enough. She and her husband live right on the edge of the Bloomington Country Club, where they’ve spent much of their time since Walker left the Utah governorship — and her status as the only woman to hold that office — in 2005.

Though our politics differ, I’ve always admired Walker. She’s a straight shooter, a champion of education with a doctorate in that field, and someone who could work the aisles with authority and good humor.

On Thursday, she poured me a Diet Pepsi Lime and we sat down for a talk about the atmosphere of today’s political scene in Utah and the nation. A lifelong Republican, she worries about the increasing radicalization of her party.

“It’s probably more extreme in Utah than in any other place,” she said, pointing to Sen. Bob Bennett’s ouster in convention this year for being too “liberal.”

“Even in conservative states, they were absolutely amazed. I’m on a couple of national committees, and it’s, ‘What’s going on?’ ”

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