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.


Where I Stand 2012: Federal Offices


Each election, I share who I’m voting for and why. Here are my picks for federal races this cycle.

US President: Gary Johnson

To say that this presidential election cycle has been disgusting would be an understatement. There’s been a constant clown car parade of candidates with whom I have not just disagreements on the issues, but find to be simply disagreeable.


GOP Primary Endorsement: Mike Winder for Salt Lake County Mayor


I like elections where the choice is obvious. Elections with less-obvious choices, however, really are frustrating. You’re sometimes forced to pick between two good candidates, and you often feel like you’re doing a disservice by leaving one of them behind. That’s the position I find myself in with the race for Salt Lake County Mayor.

The biggest problem is that I can’t make this decision exclusively issue-based. Both Mike Winder and Mark Crockett are following the course that the county needs to scale back and devolve control to cities. In particular, they’re both accepting the reality that Millcreek will soon either incorporate or be annexed leaving the county without much of a tax base at all. Smaller townships like Magna, Kearns, and White City (where I live) in the position of incorporating, being annexed, seeing large tax increases, or getting a sharp decrease in services. Independent of this, both would like to see the county scale back further since it largely failed to do so as other cities incorporated over the last 20 years.

This means it comes down to a matter of what methods and styles the candidates would use to accomplish these ends. Both candidates are focusing on a bottom-up style of governance, pulling input from the cities and remaining townships before making any decisions. While I like Mark Crockett’s data-driven approach, I think that Mike Winder has better established relationships with local government leaders that will allow him to better execute this vision. He also very clearly understands the difference between what various levels of government should do, a very Jeffersonian view that I can get behind.

Some people will hand-wring about choosing Winder to go up against the charismatic, capable, and all-around good guy Ben McAdams. Almost all of the concern swirls around the Richard Burwash incident and any potential impacts on electability. To be honest, I think those concerns are largely overblown. I listened to Mike as he responded to someone asking him about it, and his response indicates both that he recognizes how poor the decision was and that he learned from it. Taking ownership of your failings is a highly admirable quality in a leader, and I think it represents a strength, not a weakness.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting Mike Winder for Salt Lake County Mayor.

GOP Primary Endorsement: John Dougall for Auditor


You all know that guy at work. He comes in on time, leaves on time, does his work, but never really seems to stand out. He’s been in the same position for years, never really excelling, but also never really doing bad work either. He’s comfortable to a fault, not really willing to look at existing processes to see if they need to be shaken up, but mainly because he’s been there for so long that he’s dependent on them as a kind of security blanket. Unfortunately, I think current Auditor Auston Johnson is that guy. He’s not doing bad work (and I don’t mean to make personal insults), but he’s not really making the office of Auditor stand out all that much either. Unfortunately, his job (much like a county surveyor) is so dull that nobody thinks to ask “is this all this office could be doing?” John Dougall, however, is willing to ask that question.

Some people are concerned about him using the office in a biased fashion. Let me relate to you a personal story. I remember the first time I met him. It was way back in 2006, and I had just learned about UTOPIA. They weren’t able to build in unincorporated county areas, and I wanted to see if something could be done to change that. (I live in an unincorporated township.) I contacted then-Rep. Dougall (he was the head of the appropriate committee) and asked if I could have some time to speak about it. Despite not being on the agenda, he gave me time to speak. He even helped me clarify what my intention was in speaking. He did all of this despite disagreeing with UTOPIA’s existence. He gave me the fairest shake any legislator could have given some schmoe citizen who’s never been to a committee hearing in his life.

Since that time, I’ve watched John approach things in a very data-driven manner, always willing to hear things out and do his own research before proposing a course of action. Does he have a particular bent on his approaches? Absolutely. Everyone does even if they would talk themselves blue in the face trying to convince you otherwise. I have full confidence, however, that he will be fair and honest in everything he does, and he’ll inject some fresh new vigor into an office that seems to have found itself in a very comfortable rut. I hope you’ll join me in supporting John Dougall for Auditor.

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.

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.


What to make of Mitt’s endorsement of Hatch


The reality is that it’s very simple: Hatch is a reliable Republican Party foot soldier willing to carry water for the president, even on bad policy. That’s why he supported SCHIP, Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and a litany of other bad bills from the Bush administration. Do you want a Senator that always supports the president of your party or one that answers principles higher than party loyalty?

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