Where I Stand 2012: State Offices
These are my picks for state offices as part of a continuing series of who I’m voting for this election cycle.
Governor: None of the Above
Every so often, you get an election with nobody worth voting for. A lot of people will just hold their nose and pick one, either at random or whoever they believe will be the least bad option. No, not me. It’s either a good option or none at all (though if the choices are particularly bad, I may pick the worst one just to speed along the inevitable implosion). Unfortunately, the governor’s race is one such spot where it’s a choice between candidates that I don’t think have much right to be there.
I almost feel bad for Gary Herbert. He quickly moved from a county commissioner to governor in just a few years, and it shows. His mismanagement of the executive branch has brought us a $13M payout over a jilted highway bid, lead to lax oversight of a nuclear waste dump, and almost sent a bunch of Snake Valley water to Las Vegas in a deal that screwed ranchers on both sides of the state line. He also granted a strip-mining permit the day his campaign received a donation from that same company. I simply do not think him capable of competently running the state.
I can’t say I think much more of Peter Cooke. His campaign has been nothing but platitudes, vague promises, and a botched attempt to latch on to Hill Air Force Base. While I can appreciate that a challenger to an incumbent needs to point out perceived shortcomings, he does so with little regard for reality. The attacks on the state’s economic performance when we’ve seen relatively low unemployment and steadying home prices boggles my mind. He just doesn’t seem ready for that leadership chair despite his military service.
Kirk Pearson is high on rhetoric but very low on substance. It’s like he found a few hot button issues and decided to try and make a go of public office with them. That said, he at least put up a website and short bio. Ken Larsen couldn’t be bothered to do that, and his Lt. Gov. pick links to a blog with very little about the candidacy. Guys, you’ve gotta do a lot better than that.
I don’t think any of these jokers should be leading the state. I’m going to write-in None of the Above as my choice.
Attorney General: Dee Smith
John Swallow scares the ever-loving daylights out of me, and I was very disappointed to see this hyper-partisan graduate from the Mike Lee School of Being a Total Poser end up as Mark Surtleff’s hand-picked successor. I worry that Swallow could be the kind of guy to use the power of his office to grant favors to buddies, not be an effective manager of the state’s legal office. I knew long before the convention that Swallow wouldn’t ever see my vote.
That brings the choices to perennial candidate Andrew McCoullough, who always seems to be running for DA or AG, and Dee Smith. While I usually agree with libertarians on the whole and am happy to endorse jury nullification, his stated refusal to enforce any state law he doesn’t like takes it a step too far for me. Dee Smith seems to have a solid background managing teams of attorneys and no overtly partisan agenda (unlike Swallow), so I’ll give him a shot and hope for the best.
State Auditor: John Dougall
I previously endorsed John in the primary, and I stand by that endorsement now. John’s a fair-minded guy who I believe will do a good job in whichever role he finds himself. He has a data-driven approach to problem solving and actively seeks out opposing views when making decisions. That kind of analytical thinking is a strong attribute for someone who’s going to be picking apart state and local government programs to evaluate them.
Richard Proctor says… well, a whole lot of things that just aren’t relevant to the office. Aside from a rather generic “we need change” message, Mark Sage kind of fails at marketing himself too. I can’t even say that any technical qualifications set them apart either since neither of them are a CPA either (which is ironic given the attacks on Dougall for not being one). I think it’s pretty obvious who to pick in this race.
State Treasurer: Richard Ellis
This is one of those offices where the only thing that really matters is professional competence. A treasurer needs to be someone who can manage accountants and make sure the state’s finances are in order. It’s a low-profile (and probably thankless) job for a beancounter. Since the libertarian candidate doesn’t seem to have any financial background and isn’t serious enough to put up a campaign website, I’m gonna have to skip him.
I liked Chris Stout’s thoughtfulness when he ran for Senate in 2010 and thought it was a shame how the empty suit Granato steamed right over him. That said, I have a problem with someone who can’t seem to figure out what office they want to run for. Switching from Senate to state treasurer in one election cycle makes me think he has Philpot’s Disease, a need to be elected to something, anything; doesn’t matter what. Since I have on particular complaints about the current treasurer, I’m voting for Richard Ellis.
State Representative 32: LaVar Christensen
Yes, I know. Many of you could crack jokes all day long about LaVar. We all know he can talk at length on a variety of subjects (and I think he’s at least a little self-aware of it). His social conservatism drives liberal progressives batty and is one of the few areas where I wish he’d tone it down a few notches. That said, he adds a lot of useful comments to floor debates and tends to operate as a moderate conservative (if that makes any sense). I appreciated in particular that he worked in favor of HB116, and he does his best to read all of the bills that come to the floor, a feat not many others could likely claim. I also like that he’s always willing to make some time to hear me out when I have concerns and see if there’s a way to address them.
Since I feel well-represented, it would be quite a feat to convince me to support an opponent. Unlike previous elections, it doesn’t even seem like his is trying. Alain Balmanno has no campaign website that I can find, and his terse bio on the state website doesn’t say anything about his legislative positions or priorities. Sorry, man, but I can’t vote for an empty slate.