Opinionated @ CFE

Daily Herald Editor Randy Wright Lies About Dan Liljenquist’s Vote Record


Nothing gets me more incensed than when someone with a large audience lies. Today, the liar is Randy Wright. He’s not just some dink with a blog (like me), he’s the editor of the Daily Herald, one of the major newspapers in our state. In a recent blog post, he claims that Dan Liljenquist avoided the vote on the controversial HB116 in the 2011 legislature in order to further his upcoming run for Senate. The problem with this claim, however, is that the vote record clearly shows that Liljenquist cast a ‘nay’ vote on the bill.

My big problem with this is that as an editor and a journalist, Mr. Wright is responsible for fact-checking everything published under the paper he runs. In this instance, the fact-checking takes all of about 30 seconds of perusing the legislature’s website to find the actual vote record. I can’t imagine that a man in Mr. Wright’s position would fail to check the actual record, so I can only come to the conclusion that he decided to lie in order to hurt the Liljenquist campaign.

Mr. Wright, you owe Dan Liljenquist a formal public apology and retraction of your completely inaccurate statements.

(PS I have a handy screenshot of the original post, so don’t go trying to cover it up, m-kay?)

GOP Primary Endorsement: Sean Reyes for Attorney General


The GOP primary for attorney general may, at first glance, appear to have very few contrasts. The candidates largely share the same big goals or continuing the federal lands fight and the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. Once you dig deeper, however, the contrast is crystal clear. Sean Reyes is a vastly superior choice for the GOP nomination for attorney general.

What sets me ill at ease about John Swallow, the other candidate, is how he was essentially hand-picked by current attorney general Mark Shurtleff to be his successor.  Brought into the AG’s office as a right-hand man just three years ago, Swallow has spent quite a bit of time pursuing elective office. In addition to several terms in the Utah House, he ran for Congress twice. This kind of “please elect me to something” approach doesn’t speak to me as coming from someone who just wants to serve, but rather someone who’s got his sights on something else. I’m also not comfortable with the way that Shurtleff has, in the past, thrown his weight around in a bully-like fashion. I’ve heard many an anecdote that the AG’s office is not a very comfortable place to work under his leadership.

Reyes, on the other hand, seems to be very well-regarded by the lawyers I know. While Swallow builds his campaign upon high-profile red meat issues (just what do the economy and endorsing Mitt Romney have to do with being AG?), Reyes covers a much broader spectrum of law-related issues and specifically addresses white-collar crimes that have been neglected by Shurtleff’s office.

I hope you’ll join me in voting for Sean Reyes in the primary election on June 26.

New Poll Should Worry Hatch


Utah Policy put out a new poll today for the US Senate race that should have the Hatch campaign breaking a sweat.

The first problem is that Hatch’s lead isn’t as strong as it was when the last poll was conducted almost four months ago. In that poll, Hatch was leading Liljenquist 42-23, an almost 2-1 margin. The latest poll shows him leading 52-37. While Hatch picked up 10 points in that time frame, Liljenquist snagged 14 points. If that trend continues (especially as the media just won’t let up on the debate issue), Hatch may not win Salt Lake County by as much as he needs.

The second problem is that both polls are conducted solely in Salt Lake County, a place with a reputation for more moderate voters. Voters in more conservative areas like Utah County are more likely to vote Liljenquist. This trend might carry over to more conservative areas of southern Salt Lake County like Draper and Herriman. As noted above, thin margins in Salt Lake County could spell trouble if other counties go for Liljenquist. Winning just Salt Lake County has been a losing strategy for many Democrats in state-wide races.

The question now is if Hatch can keep his numbers from eroding too much more before both the start of early voting and vote by mail and the June 26 primary. I’m not counting on it.

Hatch’s Debate Problem


As I predicted earlier, the Hatch campaign decided to agree to a tightly-controlled debate and the Liljenquist campaign is continuing to make hay of it. We all knew that Hatch had to pick the least bad downside, but in this case, he seems to have picked both of them.

  • The debate that the Hatch campaign agreed to is a radio debate during work hours on an outlet that is friendly to Hatch, The Doug Wright Show. I knew the Hatch campaign was going for tightly controlled, but to restrict responses this way and have a friendly moderator is stacking the deck a bit too much.
  • It’s also been proposed to have the debate a mere week before the primary, long after most vote-by-mail voters have cast their ballots. That’s no accident, and it’s meant to try and secure votes before people would change their mind.
  • KSL and the Deseret News offered to host a televised debate between Hatch and Liljenquist. Live. In prime time. I can’t recall having seen such a proposal for a federal or state-wide race. Passing on such a visible offer sends a signal to voters that he isn’t confident that he could out-perform Liljenquist in the debate format. It also seems at least slightly arrogant.
  • Despite insisting that the Senator has a very busy schedule and can’t accommodate more than one debate, he somehow found time to write a new song as part of his musical side gig and has hinted at hosting multiple town halls. That mixed message creates a poor image.
  • The media is continuing to echo the Liljenquist campaign’s talking points about having additional debates. When the media starts sympathizing with your opponent, it at least blunts the effects of your planned mass media campaign. At worst, it’s going to make the media more hostile towards Hatch.

It seems like if the Hatch campaign were using appropriate damage control, they would quickly and graciously accept the offer from KSL/Deseret News and plan appropriate media blitzes with that massive war chest to try and soften any blow from it. However, it appears that the paid professionals on his campaign staff still have a lot to learn about image control.

Why do so many Republicans spurn libertarians?


I’ve noticed that a lot of members of the Republican Party have nothing but vitriol for self-described libertarians who have chosen to affiliate with the GOP. It seems a bit incongruous to me. The GOP brand is supposed to be one of a government with limited and well-defined powers exercising them as lightly as possible. This is something that would naturally attract libertarians, and it would make them allies of many conservatives on any number of issues. So what’s the deal with all of the hostility?


Does Hatch have a reason to debate?


It was mere hours after advancing to a primary election that Dan Liljenquist threw down the gauntlet and challenged Orrin Hatch to a total of eight debates between then and the June 26 primary election. So far, Hatch’s campaign has responded with a cagey “we’ll see” citing the current Senator’s duties in Washington and the pre-convention debates. I think there’s a lot more to it, and the Hatch campaign has a fine line to walk.


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