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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...

Cleansing My Temple

By on Oct 7, 2010 in News | 0 comments

When it comes to the notoriously nasty world of political blogging, is there a line where civil discourse becomes uncivil? Following in the footsteps of another media empire, the Open Container Media Empire has teamed up with itself to try and answer that question. The Open Container Media Empire is the parent of two cats — one of us is wearing a cone and doped up on drugs, but I’ll let you figure out which cat/blogger — and one perfect son. “We believe there is a great opportunity to debate and discuss the important political issues and to include all media outlets, bloggers big and small and raving lunatics on TRAX in our posts. But we believe that all debates can be done in a civil, dignified and respectful manner,” says a statement on, well, okay. This is the statement, but whatever. The OCME statement continued: “We also believe that the discourse can be tolerant of divergent beliefs, ideologies, driving abilities, sexual orientation, skin colors, drink choices and opinions about the Dodgers.” The ratings of the various media organizations were done on a -3 to +3 scale, because at OCME we decided that was the best way to grade was to give a rating that confused people even more than figure skating scores. I mean, the 10-scale is passe and a thumbs up/thumbs down is only done by media outlets that actually pay critics, instead of just recruiting, say, free labor, students or pets to do the heavy lifting. As for the ratings for major media outlets, Fox 13 was given a 2.82, primarily because it’s not the lunatic-bin of Glenn Beck clones that everyone expects anything “Fox” to become. The Salt Lake Tribune received a 2.45, thanks to their hiring of many of OCME’s friends — although, to be fair, the ratings were finished before their bizarre endorsement of Gov. Gary Herbert. KUTV Channel 2 was given a 2.34 because, based on Rod Decker’s questions at the Herbert Is A Saint press conference, they are very tolerant of insanity. KTVX 4 received a 1.66 because OCME likes Chris Vanocur and doesn’t know anybody else. Not everyone scored positive, however. The Deseret Digitial Mormon Media Empire received a cumulative -69.65 because …. THEY HATE GAY PEOPLE. They hate every lettered-person in the LGTBQQ etc. etc. community. They see them as addicts, as “sinners” waiting to be fixed. They’ve given up on helping prostitutes, drug addicts or sexual abuse victims. They want to “help” gay people by curing them of … what? Love? Natural physical attractions? “We listen to them [media outlets] and then we rate whether they have a positive or negative tone,” said OCME President Josh Loftin. “[We look for] whether it [media organizations] furthers civility in politics, and in life, or hinders it, and then whether our impression of the media organization is positive or negative after the reading them.” Josh Loftin II, vice president of sales for OCME [who, frankly, should be fired] is spearheading the project for OCME. He said the OCME hopes to elevate political and social discussions. “If this process is successful, we won’t steer the outcome of a news story, but we might have some influence on an editor to actually use words like ‘gay’ without saying it [the word] like it [the word] is covered in fecal matter [shit],” Loftin II said. Regarding the DDMME’s lack of civility, Loftin II pointed to coverage of the recent “bigotry-laced, ignorant and basically asinine” speech by the next LDS prophet, Boyd K. [Korn] Packer during the recent LDS General Conference. While other media outlets covered it as a news story — because, after all, it was deeply offensive to every gay person, their friends, their family and, hell, even many straight Mormons — the DDMME somehow covered the speech without mentioning that anyone was offended or that the speech was even about GAY PEOPLE. No, it’s people “struggling” with “same-sex attraction,” which Mr. K. [Korn] Packer equates with “crack smoker.” When asked for a comment, DDMME Overlord Mark Willes kicked Loftin and Loftin II in the nuts [balls], then tried to kick the cats in their respective reproductive organs [not balls]. Both are fixed [spayed or neutered, but OCME gets confused about which is which] so no damage was inflicted. Okay, no comment was actually requested, but everyone can agree there is a good chance of that response [Willes kicking Loftin & Co. in the nuts [balls]] happening, right? So, starting after this post, let it be noted that OCME will enforce its new civility policy by refusing to link to any media outlet it deems as “uncivil.” For now, that simply means no links or mentions of any story published in the Deseret News, on KSL TV or blathered about on KSL Radio. And yes, this is a serious ban: If you want anymore discussion of any about these outlets or the stories they publish, turn elsewhere. Because OCME is done [meaning, until the next late-night...

Six Pack on the Dashboard

By on Oct 1, 2010 in Music, News, Politics | 2 comments

Above the Fold Ale: Dear Gov. Gary Herbert, I get it. I understand. Things are rough and never seem to improve. It’s like your stuck on the front 9 during a bad game of golf. Your tee shots are hitting the fairway and kicking into the rough. Approach shots are two-hopping through the green and into the sand. Putts are lipping out. To make matters worse, your opponent is getting balls to ricochet off trees and into the fairway. He hits a shot thin and it turns into a beautiful bump-and-run. It’s the kind of game that, personally, has driven me to get in losing sword fights with trees or break my big toe kicking my bag. It’s hard, days like these, and it only makes it harder when people tell you everything will be okay. You fear, in your gut, things are not okay. Here’s a tip, though: Play your game. Your opponent is counting on pushing you over the edge, and right now, it appears to be working. Every counter-punch you have thrown actually hurt your hand more than his face. News conferences have been derailed by aggressive supporters and surprise revelations. Your subordinates are flaunting their independence. Your best friends are having sex in your backyard. You requested an audit, but that only seemed to confuse people. So yes, it’s ugly and getting uglier. Questions are being raised, but the answers only create more questions. The questions are also eroding the confidence people have in you, because people are starting to cast you as either corrupt or incompetent. Remember July? That was a good month. Lots of vacation. Parades and picnics. No stupid memos or embarrassing questions. To fix what’s gone wrong, reassert your power. Make it clear that, as one of our greatest presidents said, that you are “the decider.” People need to be fired, demoted or otherwise taken to the woodshed. Everything, and I mean everything, needs to come through your office. Stand up and tell the people that the state is doing well, all things considered, and the only mistake was actually one made by the Legislature when they gave UDOT entirely too much power. Tell the people that if they re-elect you, the problems will get fixed, and then dismiss any accusations that you caused the problems as bald-faced lies. And, for God’s sake, stop meeting with big donors in your office to thank them for donating. Alternatively, do what I always want to do: Pack up, move out. Put on Atherton’s “Pale Summer” and play it loud. Start at the first track and play it straight through, like they did when people could actually take a long road trip without worrying about the environmental fallout. Drive fast, head west. By the time you’ve played the album twice — and yes, it’s that good — you’ll blow across the state line, where you can stop in Wendover, grab a six-pack of real beer and put money on the S.F. Giants to win the World Series. From there, find an empty road, crack one of those beers, and relish the freedom. Happy Friday, governor. Enjoy the weekend, such as it is, because you’re in for a slog of an October. Political Pocket Rockets: AG Mark Shurtleff spoke in D.C. this week, using testimony written by the macro-brew lobbyists. Morgan Philpot tries the failed strategy of referencing obscure procedural things for a political attack. Utah Beer: Two new TRAX lines opening next summer. Salt Lake City laying off 40 more people. Moab tailings continue to disappear. The Deseret News, apparently worried that people have forgotten its own incompetency, launches a new, even more ludicrous initiative. Mark my words: This type of thing won’t stop with arts coverage. Leisure Time Lager: Wondering what to do with the heavy wad of obsolete crap thrown in your yard this week? Pete Ashdown has an idea. Josh’s Java: The Giants are going to win the N.L. West pennant tonight or tomorrow, but they will still kick the shit out of the Padres on Sunday because of this idiot. It’s called free agency, dude. Your team should try it for somebody besides a washed-up shortstop. Weekly Weizen: Scott Renshaw reviews The Social Network. Ted Scheffler revisits the Metropolitan. The Big Gay Blog looks at the crazy assistant AG in Michigan who hates the gay student body president of U of Michigan. Just once, can a homophobic person not be so blatantly closeted? Come on. The Six Pack on the Dashboard update is published every weekday. To subscribe to an e-mail version, send a message to or visit here. For an RSS feed of the Open Container and all of the other City Weekly blog posts, visit the Salt Blog at...

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