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Election 2012: Predictions

By on Nov 9, 2010 in Featured, News, Politics | 0 comments

Last week, the curtain closed on the 2010 election season. It mostly goes without saying that it’s been a a pretty wild midterm season (even though I just said it…), thanks primarily to the Tea Party insurgency. Utah wasn’t left out of the fun, either, despite becoming even more of a one-party state. Thankfully, for political junkies, that one party has a few sub-parties, most of them trying to out-conservative each other. Enough rambling, eh? After all, what I promised was predictions for 2012. A disclaimer: These are predictions made from my gut, which means I have not asked any of the politicians if they predictions pass the “sane” test. Frankly, most of them probably don’t, which makes them fun. After all, if I simply said that every incumbent is going to run for the same office, would you want to read any further? No. Okay, the predictions: U.S. Senate: Jason Chaffetz vs. Jim Matheson. This isn’t a crazy suggestion, especially with Chaffetz. He may not be committing to run against Sen. Orrin Hatch, but he is certainly not denying it. It wouldn’t surprise me if Hatch doesn’t even run, but chooses to retire rather than face the same fate as Sen. Bob Bennett. As for Matheson, I think two things happen to push him towards the Senate. First, the next two years will be tough for him in the House. He’s lost many of his Blue Dog friends and the Republicans are going to corner to “fiscal conservative” market, basically leaving Matheson in a congressional limbo. Second, redistricting Republicans could try to make Matheson’s district more conservative, or even push him into the new 4th District. His response will be to try to beat them in a statewide race, which he very well could do. Chaffetz still wins, but it’s very close. U.S. House, District 2: Morgan Philpot vs. ????. If indeed this district does get more conservative in redistricting, it would do so by having less Salt Lake County. Philpot earned his stripes among party faithful with his campaign this year, and while an open seat would bring out a dozen Republicans, Philpot will have the groundwork in place to win this seat. As for the Democrats, I’d love to say that they will have a legitimate heir for Matheson, but who? U.S. House, District 3: Gary Herbert vs. Steve Urquhart: In redistricting, this district picks up Washington County so as to carve more of Utah County and southern Salt Lake County into District 2. Chaffetz’s jump to the Senate opens this seat, and multiple Republicans will jump in. Herbert joins the fray, surprising everyone who expects him to run for another term as governor. But as with all governors, he dreams of Washington, D.C., and 2012 is his best shot. Urquhart has been chomping at the federal bit for years, and this gives him a shot. Herbert wins in a primary, which (of course) means he wins the seat. U.S. House, District 4: Peter Corroon vs. Josh Romney: I’ve said for months that Corroon’s gubernatorial bid was really a dry run for a U.S. House seat, and although he lost a lot of goodwill with his late negative tactics, he solidified his credentials as the No. 2 Donkey (Matheson being No. 1) with the Democratic base. Frankly, most Democrats were happy just to see one of their candidates actually throwing punches. Oh, and he proved he could raise serious cash. That makes him nearly a lock for the party’s nomination in the 4th District, which will be as close to a “Democrat friendly” seat as possible. Most likely, it incorporates a good chunk of eastside Salt Lake County and heads northeast, capturing Summit County and most of the Uinta Basin. As for Josh Romney, who lives in the Millcreek area, the possibility of being on a ballot headed by Mitt Romney for President would be very attractive. It would also make Josh Romney pretty much unbeatable, meaning that the Republicans would, once again, have all of the federal seats in Utah. Governor: John Valentine vs. Ralph Becker: With Herbert out, all of those would-be challengers become legitimate candidates. I think Valentine wins in a primary against a much more conservative opponent. He’s well-funded and likable, making him popular with moderate Republicans. As for Becker, well, who else? Becker at least has a recognizable name, experience at the state level, an ability to fundraise and executive experience. Plus, in 2012 he can run for governor without risking his position as mayor because he would run for re-election in SLC in 2011. Valentine would win, but at least Becker would make him work. Attorney General: Mark Shurtleff vs. Sim Gill: Shurtleff flirts with both the governor and Senate races, but in the end stays the course. Gill runs with two years under his belt as Salt Lake County District Attorney. He also runs the same campaign he ran against Lohra Miller, which is essentially one of ethical superiority. On a state level, however, it flops, and Shurtleff wins...

Elections 2010: Donkey Carnage

By on Nov 3, 2010 in News, Politics | 0 comments

An already thin herd of Democrats is further depleted in Utah on Tuesday.— Over the past couple of election cycles, Democrats have leveraged moderate goodwill and frustrations with Republicans to make modest gains in the Legislature. They had some high-profile victories, most notably Jay Seegmiller knocking out then House Speaker Greg Curtis, and they also won seats in southern Salt Lake County districts that were formerly GOP strongholds. All of those gains… gone. Although Utah Democrats work very hard to distance themselves from the national party leaders, the overall anti-Democrat, anti-incumbent mood hammered the minority party. They were hit especially hard in the House, losing two senior representatives and three others in those southern seats. And, almost as bad, no challenger even made a Republican incumbent sweat. Among those House members who lost: Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden; Rep. Jim Gowans, D-Tooele, Rep. Seegmiller, D-Sandy, Rep. Laura Black, D-Sandy, and Rep. Trisha Beck, D-Sandy. Also, Sen. Brent Goodfellow, D-West Valley, who has 25 years of legislative experience, lost. For what it’s worth, there are now 58 Republicans and 17 Democrats in the House, and in the Senate it is 22-7. But really, those numbers mean nothing. The only numbers that do matter to the minority party are 25 and 10, which would give them a voting bloc of one-third. With that, they at least can prevent a veto override and have enough of a say on floor motions to make the majority party at least talk to them. There was actually very little for Democrats to cheer about in Utah Tuesday. Along with losing important races, they didn’t have anything close to an upset brewing. In fact, the closest thing they had to a surprising candidate was in Weber County, where Betty Sawyer ran a strong campaign and at least made Stuart Reid work to hold the seat he was appointed to last year. But even there, Sawyer only had 40 percent of the vote. What can Democrats celebrate? U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, is still in Congress. But with the loss of seemingly every other Blue Dog Democrat and the Republican control of the House, Matheson has lost a lot of juice. At this point, if I were in his shoes, I would spend the next two years with an eye towards the U.S. Senate in 2012. There were also other Democrats that withstood strong Republican challenges, most notably Rep. Tim Cosgrove, D-Murray. And, finally, there was the gubernatorial race. Peter Corroon ran one hell of a campaign, and sucked up a ton of volunteer energy and campaign contributions. Yet, at the end of the day, the results were exactly as was expected. I think a lot of Democrats are scratching their heads, trying to figure out what, exactly, they can ever do to win a major...

Six Pack on the Dashboard: 10/8

By on Oct 7, 2010 in News, Politics | 0 comments

Above the Fold Ale: It’s the next big scandal to rock the gubernatorial race: Tailgate-Gate!— Yesterday, I rode to the gubernatorial debate at Utah Valley University with Peter Corroon’s campaign manager and future Utah governor, Donald Dunn, because I was scheduled to ride back with Corroon to interview him for our election previews. At Point of the Mountain, a Suburban came up on us in the HOV lane fast and, like a good Utah driver, rode our asses for a minute or two. As Dunn pointed out to me that it was Gov. Gary Herbert’s security detail, the Suburban whipped past us by crossing the double lines of the HOV lane. As they did this, I offered to flip the governor off, but Dunn declined. (For the record, that’s not a personal attack against Herbert, and I would flip off Corroon if Herbert’s people asked me). We did, however, keep the governor’s vehicle in sight (although we stayed, properly, in the HOV lane) until they exited at 800 South in Orem. I found this whole event funny, and tweeted it. However, since I don’t have a smart phone to monitor Twitter — I tweet remotely using a text message, very 2008 — I had no idea that my smart-ass little tweet caused a minor tweetstorm. The tweet went mildly viral, with a few of my Twitter followers commenting that this was further proof of Herbert’s arrogance. Even better, it apparently prompted a series of discussions among Herbert’s people, and an eventual clarification for me that, actually, the governor’s security detail are law enforcement and the double-line law (and other traffic laws) don’t apply to them. There may have also been another car that the detail was trying to shake, and that when they blew past us they had no idea who was in the car. Fine, good, thanks. Detail didn’t break any laws, and may have been protecting the governor. I understand that they have a job to do. However, I also stand by what I saw first-hand: The governor’s Suburban was being driven like basically every other Suburban in the state, loaded with people and driving like they are about to miss the Second Coming. What disappoints me is that people didn’t actually seem to seize much on my other tweets, which primarily focused on the bizarre fact the coffee is essentially a forbidden substance at UVU. Nobody in the student center — you know, where students hang out, eat, drink and so forth — actually serves coffee. (The 7-11 style espresso machine in Scoops N’ More doesn’t count.) That required a short hike to the library for a “Starbucks,” which was actually a combo deli/rice bowl/smoothie place that had self-serve Starbucks coffee. They also had a push-button espresso machine, but the only thing I saw people getting from that was the Only in Utah “Strawberry Steamer,” which is strawberry syrup and steamed milk. It’s the new Ovaltine, apparently. My point? I used to tell people to never go to Utah County without a flask of whiskey. But, the warning is now even more dire: Never, ever go to Utah County without caffeine, and try to avoid the governor’s security detail. Or better yet, all Suburbans. Political Pocket Rockets: Ahh, the debate. I actually had a whole post worked up in my head with an analysis of the debate, but that isn’t as fun. Here’s my semi-short analysis: Herbert did better controlling his temper (no slapping his knee or punching Rod Decker in the nose). He’s also building his entire campaign around his successes, which is probably smart unless voters actually start asking him what he is going to do, not what he has done. Corroon continues to hammer at the I-15 thing, and it has traction. But … he runs the risk of becoming a one-note candidate that grinds on people. He told me that he would love to talk about all of his plans, but people only ask about the campaign finance stuff. Well, why not put a campaign finance reform plan on your website, and emphasize there’s many other plans? Corroon has won a couple of rounds, but is still a ways behind. He needs something else to push into the single-digit range. Also, it was a college-centric crowd today, but the candidates barely focused on college issues, even with many questions about tuition increases. Those were simply reasons to talk about education generally. Also, neither candidate ever addressed things important to 20-somethings. Bonus Rockets: Mike Lee gets $$$ from Sen. Jim DeMint. Anonymous Republicans attack Herbert, plus Jason Williams take on The Side Track blog. James Evans escapes 2004, sues Batman and Robin (or, depending on your political perspective, Penguin and The Joker). Breaking: Matheson safe. Utah Beer: FLDS continue to flail away. NW Quadrant/Pleasantville continues to seem like a bad idea. Summit Co. sheriff’s race getting nasty. Leisure Time Lager: The U.S. Supreme Court tries to find a way, any way, to shut down the Westboro Loony Bin. Josh’s Java: Roy Halladay is a bad mofo. Also, go Giants! Weekly Weizen: Open Container has a new civility policy. Utah’s king of music parodies. The Devil Makes Three. The Six Pack on the Dashboard update is published most weekdays. To subscribe to an e-mail version, send a message to or tweet me @joshloftin. For an RSS feed of the Open Container and all...