Things To Act
Thursday, May 06, 2004
 
Utah Political Scene Notes II
I've never particularly cared for Swallow. Anyone who can lose a Congressional seat specifically gerrymandered for Republicans in Utah would seem to have serious problems (and his campaign literature is annoying). In looking over the last week's worth of political articles in Utah's "major" papers, I see no reason to change my opinion. Commenting on the RNC's apparent backstabbing of Bridgewater, he says "Maybe I shouldn't say this, but whomever the candidate is who comes out of this race has to have the support of the party this time to fight Jim Matheson." Usually, if you find yourself saying 'maybe I shouldn't say this,' a good place to put the period is after the 'this.' Furthermore, Swallow's excuse for losing in 2002 was that he didn't have national party support. It takes some gall to preemptively accuse his opponent of his own past mistakes, particularly given that Bridgewater apparently has actual ties with national Republicans (whereas Swallow can only boast Club for Growth support, which seems highly likely to transfer to Bridgewater after he wins the nomination).

In addition, the SLTrib runs an article about Swallow's tendency to go negative for a late hit right before an election. Swallow's response? "As far as I'm concerned, 2002 is in the history books. Let's move on to 2004." The only problem is that most of Swallow's campaign, as far as I've seen, has been centered around the notion that he came so close in 2K2 that surely, having learned from his mistakes and being willing to Try Even Harder, he'll someone win. If we wipe the 2002 race from our memory, then his primary justification for being the 'front-runner' goes up in smoke--there's no more reason to nominate him now than there was in 2002 (when he lost in convention).

Meanwhile, sometimes you have to wonder if the reporters are smarter than they let on, as they occasionally come up with something devious like this. In the middle of an otherwise dull article about campaign funding: " Lampropoulos: The gregarious CEO has set a new record in wooing state delegates. He's invited them down to Tuacahn, paid for a concert by Beatles impersonators and arranged for discounted hotel rooms. Most contributions beyond his own come from his partners and officers in Merit Medical and his son Bryan. But even his ex-wife gave him money. I was surprised to see Lampropoulos pulling up in the polls, since I'd written him off as unelectable ever since hearing that he was twice-divorced (not popular in Utah Republican circles). I suspect now that what support he has gathered is insufficient to get him out of convention; if it is, he seems likely to either lose the primary or be quite vulnerable in the general. Matheson (who has been rather bland and unimpressive so far) could have a field day, simply by playing up the 'family' theme.

As far as the rest of the field goes, from my limited observations, I tend to like Karras and Hansen, and to a degree Stephens. All seem to have the experience and credentials to do a good job (and Hansen, at least, would only stick around for one term, which is probably a good idea after the 12 years of one governor). Both Huntsman and Lampropoulos strike me as lightweights depending on money and name recognition rather than substantive experience--if they really wanted to make a difference, why didn't they start with lower offices and work their way up? As for Walker, I'm unimpressed by her decision to wait to announce, and can't see that she's done anything spectacular enough to justify leapfrogging over those who have been campaigning for far longer.

Then there's the Third District, in which we have the unseemly spectacle of xenophobic outside groups trying to convince Utah that Rep. Cannon isn't quite conservative enough. It makes about as much sense as Nader challenging Kerry for being insufficiently liberal, and I do hope the delegates don't allow the xenophobes to carry the day. If either of Cannon's challengers had hoped to earn my respect, they would have needed to forcibly denounce the darker agenda of some of the anti-Cannon groups; their failure to do so, while continuing to only talk about one or two cherry-picked issues, utterly fails to impress me (which reminds me of one amusing note from the LDDinner shindig in February--at least one of Cannon's opponents (as I recall) had a typical campaign flier; Cannon himself had a couple of detailed position papers about issues he was currently working on. A welcome contrast).

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