Opinionated @ CFE

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.

9 Responses to Where I Stand 2012: State Offices

  1. With you 100% on state offices . . . as to LaVar, well, I don’t live in his district, but yes I could make a few cracks. 🙂 Sincerity and responsiveness are important, though, and I’ll leave it at that.

  2. The guy who brought us HB 477 for Auditor? Yeah, nothing bad will happen there. (Sarcasm)

  3. Good post. I agree with you on Herbert and would abstain as well. CATO recently gave Herbert a “D” on its fiscal policy report card. That is unconscionable considering the makeup of the legislature. No excuse.

    And….don’t get me started on Swallow. I do not understand your zing at Senator Lee, though. Could you explain?

    • I feel like Lee said what he needed to say in order to get into office, so I don’t really trust him. It’s like he can speak the lingo of libertarianism, but his heart isn’t really in it. I’m still baffled at his war on Google and his hardline talk about the 17th Amendment isn’t rooted in any kind of reality (though most of it isn’t). I elaborated on it in during the last election cycle.

  4. Well thought out. I would note, though, that Alain Balmanno is actually running a strong campaign. I’m not sure about a website (kind of weird if he doesn’t have one), but I know him and his family and they’re out with volunteers every weekend and most weeknights canvassing and talking to voters.

    Want me to have them get in touch with you?

  5. Empty suit? Granato has more class in his big toe then you do in your entire existence. You really are a shallow person and your endorsements, good and bad, mean nothing.

  6. facebook_cpstout

    It’s a shame you didn’t talk to me before making your pick for State Treasurer. It seems your primary issue is what office I run for. I was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012 but the left the race officially in December last year to put my support behind Pete Ashdown.

    I did this for three reasons: (1) The party leadership wasn’t enthusiastic for me running — they wanted someone who was LDS, and I wasn’t getting much in the way of support. (2) My supporter base primarily came from those supporting Pete Ashdown, so I didn’t expect it was a convention I could win and since I already lost once, I didn’t want to be another loser at convention. (3) As early as September last year, I realized that Orrin Hatch would be the eventual nominee and it wasn’t going to be like 2010. Again, my name and background would not be enough to unseat Hatch — something that I felt Pete had the ability to do, and since he had run against Hatch before, I felt he deserved that opportunity.

    Finally, my goal is the U.S. Senate but you don’t get there by wishing on rainbows. I accepted the Utah State Democratic Party’s request for me to run as State Treasurer because I felt it would give me name recognition with voters — we’ll see tomorrow night whether that happens. It will also be a litmus towards the party as to whether or not I can hang with the big fish at the top of the ticket — something party officials didn’t think I could do in 2010. If I were actually able to win and become State Treasurer, my ability to take the Senate seat away from Mike Lee increases in 2016 drastically. However, without your vote, the ability for that to happen severely decreases.

  7. If you have had the experiences I have had with Chris Stout on Facebook, there’s no way you’d ever even consider voting for him. The guy is outright belligerent to those who want limited government.

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