Saturday, November 18, 2006

fairly benign redistricting, and other oxymorons

More on the Utah redistricting plans from the Deseret News this morning(for a brief synopsis read my dairy on MyDD):
Instead of Huntsman's preliminary idea, committee leaders said, the state's most populous county may be divided among three of the four districts. A redrawn 2nd District could include Summit, Daggett and Morgan counties as well as Salt Lake City, the city's Rose Park and other parts of Salt Lake County.
"These are not set in stone. They're meant to be the starting point for discussion," said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, co-chairman of the redistricting committee. "We've come up with something that looks fairly benign."
But even as Bramble was drawing his new map, House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, warned that any plan that split the county into parts of three districts would only come if Salt Lake County was the "population center of at least two of the districts."

Translation: get Matheson out of my Sandy district, I nearly lost my election to him. Here is the committee, tell me with a straight face this won't be a hyper-partisan 'screw Matheson again' map.

Jeremy Roberts, a Salt Lake County GOP activist, wants a GOP party resolution that says that "only states should have voting representation in the U.S. House and Senate — and so it is unconstitutional to let the District of Columbia have a House seat." Ergo, one for Utah, none for D.C. I am sure it has nothing to do with the white, Republican nature of Utah and the Black, Republican nature of D.C....nothing at all.

Here are some more hints about where the committee is thinking of going:
Only about half of strongly Democratic Salt Lake City is in the existing 2nd District.
As for the rest of Salt Lake County, Bramble said some westside portions should go to a redrawn 3rd District along with a sliver of Tooele County. And the rest of Salt Lake County — including Sandy — could be part of a new 4th District "centered" in St. George.
Curtis, who went through the bruising redistricting in 2001, has said that the 2nd District — now held by Utah's only Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Jim Matheson — must be a mostly Democratic seat. Otherwise, Democrats in Congress will not go along with the proposed deal that would give the District of Columbia one voting House seat and give Utah another House seat."

Again, translation for Speaker Curtis: Matheson is unbeatable, so let's give him a safer House seat, so he won't take out other Republicans.
Matheson in recent elections has won more than 60 percent of the vote in this part of his huge geographic district, which also takes in eastern and southern Utah. In the 2006 election, Matheson got more than 70 percent of the Salt Lake County vote. Matheson also has a bit of northeastern Utah County, where he has been beaten by his GOP opponent.

Matheson is already safe, as his victory in November proved. He will never be seriously challenged again unless there is another 2002 like year, but that was the magic combination of a very GOP year and redistricting where Jim had 33% new constituents who didn't know him. He got crushed in Washington County and still eked out a win. Now, he places respectably in Washington County, thanks to all his hard work getting federal money for the St. George airport and other items.

Friday, November 17, 2006

friday roundup

  • Joe Cannon is leaving the post of Utah Republican Party chair, making current Vice Chair Enid Greene chair until the next party elections. A failed 2004 Lt. Governor candidate, a failed Congresswoman, and now UT Republican Party chairwoman. The party has a corrupt, but at least competent person at the helm now. However, I am sure she won't last. Utah Republicans have a habit of kicking out women from leadership positions in their party, just ask Governor Walker.

  • An opponent to Joe Lieberman (CFL-CT), called the Secretary of State of Connecticut and found out that even Joe wasn't a member of his own "Connecticut for Lieberman" party, so he joined, made himself party chairman, and created the party rules. Here are the highlights (courtesy of My Left Nutmeg):
    a. If you run under Connecticut for Lieberman, you must actually join our party.
    b. The party will nominate people for office who have the last name of Lieberman and/or who are critics and opponents of Senator Lieberman.
    c. If any CFL candidate loses our party's nomination in a primary, that candidate must bolt our party, form a new party and work to defeat our party endorsed candidate.
    d. We in the CFL intend to run the same candidate for three different jobs at the same time, ie. House, Senate and Governor.

    The brilliant idea is to 1) hold Lieberman accountable, 2) expose "Connecticut for Lieberman" as a sham party, 3) lock out Lieberman from both CFL and Democratic party, making it impossible to Joe to run for reelection in 2012, unless he creates another fake party. The CT legislature will probably change the election laws to prevent sore losers from creating their own parties and running again against their primary opponents, either by changing the date of party formation to before party primaries (currently it is the day after) or simply not allowing a losing candidate to run again.

  • SLC mayoral race in 2007 is wide open. Ten candidates have filed for this "non-partisan" election. The winner will most likely be a Democrat, but that hasn't stopped Republicans from trying. Democrats in the minority in the state and county legislature have opted for a chance in the greener pastures of the old city and county building. I don't have a dog in this fight, but I may decide whom I like after learning more about what the candidates propose to do, rather than who they are. Kirk Jowers, Hinckley Institute of Politics told KSL, "There is a lot of pent up excitement to run for office. It's the same thing you'd find if Hatch or Bennett decide to hang it up. There's a lot of people who have been waiting for this moment."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Zombie 4th seat

It won't die...thanks to ultra-powerful Gov. Huntsman. By December 4th, the bill should be passed out of the legislature and used as a bargaining chip for the DC-Utah bill still pending in the lame duck Congress.
"We've been assured by the governor that this will be a fair process with a fair result or he will veto it," said state House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake. He said minority Democrats will agree to a special session.

Not that Becker has much choice in the matter...I don't think Dems even have the power to block a quorum.

Gov. Huntsman's map was basically fair: a safe Democratic seat in exchange for 3 GOP safe (save Matheson) seats. But the state legislature isn't going to play nice. Here is the old map the legislature passed in 2001:

"It's open. We're not pushing any particular map," said Senate President John Valentine.
"We've been committed all along to making certain at the end of the day that a fair map is adopted," said Huntsman spokesman Mike Mower.

Watch the sparks fly.

wait for 2008

I know the press would much rather be talking up a potential Hillary-McCain 2008 race...but 2006 races aren't over yet. There are 7 House seat that are still undecided, and amazingly enough no Congressional Democrats lost this cycle. Currently 30 seats have been picked up, but any or all of these 7 could go blue.

In Utah, the story is the same: many Salt Lake County races are still close to call, including State House Speaker Greg Curtis'. The GOP believe that Jim Matheson's walking of Curtis' district--combined with his prominant position on a stadium Real Salt Lake--lead to his near or actual loss.

Right now, Speaker Curtis is up on 46 votes. "There also are 600 paper ballots - requested by voters leery of the new electronic machines - that have yet to be tabulated, explained Jason Yocom, chief deputy clerk." If you were wondering if Jason Yocom was related to outgoing D.A. Dave Yocum, you were right, Jason is his son.

Moreover, Utah Democrats have another chance in the Salt Lake County Auditor were the Democratic candidate is behind 344 votes. For that race, Jason Yocum has a "stack of provisionals had passed 7,700 along with more than 3,000 absentees." Those are just the prominent races.

There are actually 4 other state house races that are too close to call. Here are the closest of the close.
* HOUSE 22: Deena Ely, R, leads Carl Duckworth, D (i), by 25 votes.
* HOUSE 29: Janice Fisher, D (i), leads Phillip Conder, R, by 75 votes.
* HOUSE 36: Phil Riesen, D, leads Susan Lawrence, R (i), by 103 votes.
* HOUSE 45: Mark Walker, R (i), leads Laura Black, D, by 32 votes.
* HOUSE 49: Greg Curtis, R (i), leads Jay Seegmiller, D, by 46 votes.
* SALT LAKE COUNTY AUDITOR: Sean Thomas, R (i), leads Jeff Hatch, D, by 344 votes.
* JORDAN SCHOOL BOARD NO. 6: Tracy Cowdell leads Lynette Phillips (i), by 27 votes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bush's final days and Utah's 4th

Mr. Lame Duck thinks he can push John Bolton (an utter failure at the UN, despite what a commenter thinks), Daddy's CIA chief for Def. Sec. and a 4th Seat for Utah in exchange for D.C. through in the next couple weeks. Forget about it.

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah — who remains in U.S. Senate leadership until Dec. 31 — warns there is little likelihood that the compromise plan will make it through the lame-duck congressional session.

Governor Huntsman is worried of those new Democrats in Congress:
"They could move forward unilaterally and take care of voting rights in Washington, without any kind of commensurate increase in representation for Utah," the Republican governor said. He called that prospect a "worst-case scenario."
"We have an open window. And it's going to close very quickly," Huntsman said.

So Huntsman is turning up the heat on the Utah legislature, and they aren't playing ball
"We were being asked by Congress to have an up-or-down vote on a map drawn in the back room," Senate President John Valentine said Tuesday. "We're just not going to do that. . . . We really felt like it was important to have the process include public participation. We were not willing to just play Whac-a-Mole with the Congress."
Instead, state legislators may hold public hearings on the proposed map and then vote on it by Dec. 4 as a way to advance the tandem Utah/D.C. plan.
At least one member of the statehouse circulated a letter Tuesday calling the proposal the "fourth seat slippery slide," slamming the idea as one that would eventually hurt Utah and boost Democrats.
"In return for a Western, Republican Utah seat for possibly four years [until we get it legitimately in 2012] we give Washington, D.C., and the Eastern Democrats an extra seat forever," said outgoing Rep. David Cox, R-Lehi. "That doesn't seem like a fair trade."

Dang! A State Representative who is a Republican is either reading my blog, or came to the same conclusion independently (given my traffic, I will opt for number 2). Moreover, Democrats would lock up the 2nd district, Matheson or no Matheson, and free up Jim to run in the new 4th or the new 3rd. My dream is that he takes out Chris Cannon and we get a progressive Democrat to represent the new Second. And then when Hatch or Bennett dies, he wins the open Senate seat.

Meanwhile, the DC democrats are dumb enough to think this will hurt Matheson. Jim can win in almost any district in the state now fairly easily. His ads and person are known statewide and is approval ratings are second only to the nation's most popular governor. What is Matheson's official line?

Matheson, who favors a nonpartisan redistricting commission to make any district changes, says he will vote for any bill that gives Utah a fourth seat now, regardless of how the Legislature's redistricting may affect him personally.

Utah over his political career, principle over personal. That is why Jim won with the biggest margin of all the Congressional races this year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

abstinance makes the heart grow fonder

Sorry for the lack of posting of late. I don't really have much of an excuse, other than I didn't feel the need to comment on anything in particular because the commentary from the big Kahunas was vastly superior to what I would have written (and more often with better spelling and grammar, sorry).

I am excited about the incoming Congress and their boldness already to stop Bush from legalizing his warrantless eavesdropping on international and domestic calls, and their reluctance to allow Mr. Gates to become Defense Secretary without a meaningful hearing (meaning, after the lame duck session).

However, I am saddened by my own personal job situation where there is little certainty and not much I can do but wait and pass the Bar. I do love Utah and Salt Lake County, but if a job prospect opens up in the Washington, D.C. area, I will return to our Nation's Capitol. That year I spent there was some of the most fun I had, despite living in a tiny studio with a 45 minute Metro commute and a slow paced job. Too bad many of my D.C. friends from then have moved on to other cities and jobs. But now my in-laws live only two hours away from D.C. and I am excited to be back in national politics in person rather than just over the internet.

If it weren't for D.C., I would have never been able to help launch the part of the Clark movement. If it weren't for blogs and Yahoo! groups, I would have never met Matt Stoller and Stirling Newberry when I moved to Boston.

As much as I love pontificating on the internet and meeting my internet idols, I long use my legal education towards domestic and international policy and politics. Wesley Clark is going to decide whether to run again by January, and if he says yes, I will be there again, where ever I am. A Clark/Warner or Clark/Obama ticket would be excellent and help Democrats take swingable Southern states like Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana. Evan Bayh is a nice man, but he will never be nominated President and as VP would not help carry Indiana. Plus, Clark, Warner, and Obama are exciting because they are not only electable, but principled and charasmatic, and intelligent but not Al Gore 2000/John Kerry 2004 condescending intelligent.