Opinionated @ CFE

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

May
28

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?)

New Poll Should Worry Hatch

May
15

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

May
08

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?

May
02

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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Why You Should Choose Dan Liljenquist for US Senate

Mar
21

I write a post daily from now until the state convention about why I think Orrin Hatch has no business being in the US Senate. Tearing down someone you don’t like it really easy, though, and it does nothing to highlight who is a better choice. In many cases, we say “yeah, he sucks, but what other choice do we really have?” In the US Senate race, that choice is clear: former state senator Dan Liljenquist.

Some of the biggest problems facing us as a country are fiscal. All too many Republicans and Democrats are ignoring structural problems in our entitlement systems, instead doubling down on tax cuts and/or deficit spending in the vain hope that it will create enough economic activity to plug the gap without making difficult choices. These elected officials are ignoring reality, kicking the can down the road so that future generations can pay the price for their imprudence.

Dan Liljenquist has a proven record as someone who can tackle these needed reforms. He touched the third rail of politics, entitlements, not once, but twice and lived to tell the tale. The state of Utah now stands to save many billions of dollars in retirement and Medicaid costs. These same reforms are now being implemented in dozens of other states that now look to Utah as a legislative model. Many legislators wouldn’t accomplish in three decades what Dan did in three years.

“But what about seniority”, many will cry. I say the seniority system is nearing its end. Freshmen like Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, and Rand Paul managed to be heard immediately, leading Harry Reid to remark that he had never seen new senators wield such immense influence. Dan has already proved he has the mettle to start working on day one on very serious problems. Despite being new in the Utah State Senate and being told that there’s no way he can propose major legislation, he did the legwork anyway and came out on top, passing arguably some of the most significant legislation of the past decade. Someone who can so effectively sell their good ideas is as valuable on day one as they are many years down the road.

It’s also important to have a senator whose power will not depend on which party is in power. Party power comes and goes. The only way to wield influence in those “off” years is to be a consensus-builder, something Dan has a proven record of. In addition to taking input from within his party and from the minority party, he also reached out directly to those affected by the legislative changes to see how he could win their support. In the end, what started as a controversial change in retirement for state employees became a universally-acclaimed landmark piece of legislation earning Dan the coveted Legislator of the Year award.

A legislator who can build consensus around badly-needed reforms without bench-warming first is something we desperately need right now. Waiting won’t make it better. To borrow Dan’s campaign slogan, it’s time.

Seniority is a Liability

Jan
23

Whenever an incumbent is running for office, they will almost invariably turn to talk about how the length of time they have spent in that office as a means of proving that they know how to work things. You’ll see that same claim made at the federal, state, and local levels. Just as certainly, challengers will point to the length of service as a bad thing, a sign that they have made a comfortable career of what should be public service. Both of these sides have been going at it for years, but it looks like the pro-seniority side is starting to lose out.

One of the few positive things of the Tea Party crowd (and the members they are electing) is a vehement opposition to political elitism, including the practices associated with seniority. Instead of accepting that you have to outlast your peers to get your desired committee assignments, they have pushed for significantly more technocratic ways of committee selection based on ability. Senators like Rand Paul and Mike Lee (the latter of whom I have significant disagreements with) have managed to wield significant influence in the “deliberative” body of Congress despite being the new kids on the block.

So now that the influence of seniority isn’t as solid of an indicator of influence in the body, does it still have value? Not likely. Now that good ideas and ability are the currency of influence, being in office for a significant period of time without a significant list of accomplishments is a huge negative. Guys like Bennett, who seemingly accomplish little of what the general electorate cares for, get replaced by the brash go-getters who make things happen in short order.

Former State Sen. Dan Liljenquist accomplished two major reforms, state employee pensions and Medicaid, in just three years in office. Doesn’t this seem like the kind of guy who’d get things done in Washington? And, more importantly, don’t those seem like the right things to get done?

The Unsustainability of Pensions

Feb
27

There aren’t a lot of cases where I find myself in agreement with Ezra Klein on economic issues, but on pensions, I think he may have nailed it. For those unfamiliar, pensions are little more than a way to say “I’ll gladly pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today”. Employees often take a smaller paycheck now so that they can collect income after they retire or leave their position. Unfortunately, the arrangement allows for a lot of lying and number fudging along the way.

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