Monday, April 09, 2007

SLC mayoral race shakes up

Meg Holbrook, is out! She is ex-chair of the Utah Democratic Party, and wife of a beloved professor of alternative dispute resolution at my law school.

But why did she decide to drop out well before summer? A guaranteed job with Gov. Huntsman's administration.
Instead, she will accept Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s request that she serve on the state Transportation Commission.
"I can't do everything," she said. "I've thought it over a long time, and I've decided this is the best way to serve the state and Salt Lake City."
That leaves eight candidates in a field that once had 10 contenders.
The governor also nominated former state Rep. Stewart Adams, R-Layton, to serve on the commission. Their nominations now must be approved by the state Senate.

Plus, she is nice enough to not run while holding an office that gets federal funding, creating Hatch Act problems.

For me, there are two questions that need to be answered. First, why did Huntsman pick her? Because she is a good person and qualified candidate, or because he feared she might win? Second, what does a top tier candidate's drop out say about the race?

The article helps answer number two:
Holbrook's former role as head of the state's Democrats had given her some name recognition in the mayor's race, but many of the other candidates are widely known through their political and business history in the city, and Holbrook had not been a front-runner.
A Dan Jones & Associates poll conducted last week for the Deseret Morning News and KSL-TV showed Holbrook as the favorite candidate of only 2 percent of respondents. That put her in sixth place, although fully 44 percent of respondents remained undecided in this early stage of the campaign.
In the first round of campaign fund-raising disclosures, filed Feb. 15, Holbrook ranked seventh in the amount of money raised. She had raised $18,470, compared with the top fund-raiser, former City Councilman Keith Christensen, who had $257,176, and City Councilman Dave Buhler, who was second, with $123,026.

Right now, few people know who is running "Dan Jones and Associates put the list before Salt lake voters last week and only two get double-digit recognition right now: City Councilman Dave Buhler with 12 percent and County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson has 20 percent." More interestingly, this is a Democrats race to lose if they can get the Donkey out there. "Twenty-one percent said it has a great deal of impact, 33 percent said some and 44 percent said party affiliation in this race has little effect."

It seems that maybe Ms. Holbrook saw that Jenny Wilson was sucking away voters from her big time. To me, it looks like Wilson, Becker, Christensen, and Buhler are all in the running for the top two spots. At this point, it looks like Wilson will take the poll position, but if she is paired with Becker, thing will get interesting. If she is paired with a Republican, I can call it today.

Other than that, the race is still wide open.


Davis Didjeridu said...

Hatch Act only applies for government employees involved in partisan political activity. It would not apply to mayoral candidates, in SLC at least.

Oldenburg said...

The "little" Hatch Act applies to state employees whose run for office while working at position which has the majority of its funding from the federal governmnet. The state Transportation Board is probabbly one of those, and she would be running for Mayor.

Davis Didjeridu said...

Sorry, you are still wrong. According to, the Office of Special Counsel's website states explicitly that she could run for public office in nonpartisan elections. I seriously doubt the Hatch Act was even in their top ten of reasons why she dropped out.

Oldenburg said...

You are right that the mayoral race is technically nonpartisan, and therefore the little Hatch Act does not apply. But you and I both know that this is in reality a partisan race: SLC voters want a Democrat to be mayor, which is why the two main Republicans keep pretending they aren't GOPers.

And you are also right that money and polling are the most likely reason for dropping out, but I am sure ethics and duty also played a role for her.