Friday, September 14, 2007

Wilson's sexism excuse

(Photo Credit: Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News)

Jenny Wilson, whose come-from-ahead loss is the talk of the politicos in Salt Lake City, is blaming Rocky and sexism for her failure at the voting booths.
Mayor Rocky Anderson's last minute op-ed Salt Lake Tribune piece on the ability to serve as mayor and a mother of small children — could spell trouble in recruiting more women to run for public office, Wilson said.

"Rocky's charges and all of the discussions out there, I think, if anything, are going to suppress women from having an interest in running for office," Wilson said. "Now I feel like there will be some sense of, 'Oh great, I've got kids. Look what happened to Jenny.' And that's too bad."
The fact Wilson is a woman did not hurt her campaign, former GOP congresswoman Enid Greene said. And Anderson's last minute op-ed two days before the election regarding motherhood was "simply desperation on his part," Greene said of the Salt Lake City mayor, who publicly endorsed Keith Christensen, who also lost in the primary.

"I don't think a lot of people voted for or against Jenny Wilson thinking about her children as much as Rocky would have had them do otherwise," Greene said.

But Wilson said she was the subject of undue scrutiny purely because of her gender.

"The distinctions on this men to women, the increased lens on my family, nobody wrote about the family lives of Ralph Becker, Dave Buhler or Keith Christensen, and there is plenty to say there, both good and bad," Wilson said. "Yet everybody knows I've got these two kids, and, oh, are they going to be OK in all of this, and how do we feel about that, when nobody is asking those questions about the others?"

However, US Sen. candidate Pete Ashdown gives us some backstory that illustrates the fundamental problem with Ms. Wilson's campaign.
Dave Everitt and Ralph were persistent but not obnoxious in seeking my endorsement. I gave money to Jenny early on and what came back is that the campaign expected my endorsement even before she returned my questionnaire.

I was also pleased that Dave took my advice on the proper way to build an email list and also did not use robocallers. As you stated previously, your own household received four robocalls from the Wilson campaign. I firmly believe that robocalls are for sucker candidates and they do more harm than good. [emphasis added]
I call bullsh!t on Jenny, and amazingly agree with Enid Greene [Waldholz]. It was Jenny's campaign's sense of entitlement and crappy answers to lame debate questions that did her in, not the fact that she has ovaries.

She can blame Rocky, sexists, or those rude bloggers all she wants, but the truth is, she ran a crappy campaign. While it is true that Buhler was likely to get a top spot because he had the Republican-LDS base solidly behind him, she still could have beaten Keith and Ralph since she had more money than Ralph, better name recognition than Ralph, and didn't have to run away from her party/record like Keith.

Yet she ran a cautious campaign and struggled in debates and never really rallied Democrats in one of the bluest cities in the state. So if she wants someone to blame, she better start looking in the mirror.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ashdown points out my error

(Photo Credit:
(from left to right: fmr. US Sen. candidate Pete Ashdown, St. Rep. Christine Johnson (D-UT-25), SL County Mayor Peter Carroon)

I have tooting my own horn in terms of prognostication and analysis and rarely anyone has called me on it when my predictions turn out wrong. Partly this is because I admit them before someone can, and partly because I don't have as many readers as say Matt Stoller.

The once and future US Senate candidate Pete Ashdown, however, noted that I thought on balance that Carroon's endorsement of Jenny was worth more that his was for Ralph. Of course, Jenny failed to make it past the primary and Ralph won a surprisingly large victory on Tuesday.

In my defense, I had been worried that my friendship with Dave Everitt and my support of Ralph stemming back at least since 2003 would bias my predictions of the race and lead me to undervalue Jenny. I was hypersentive to saying negative things about Jenny because I didn't know her that well but she is a good Democrat and ran a good campaign to knock of a Republican for an at-large seat on the SL County Council.

Ashdown was right though, even if he was classy enough not to say it outright, in a primary election, the base matters. And Ashdown excites activists and frequent voters.

The proof I overlooked? Ashdown beat Hatch in early Salt Lake County.

Check out this graphic by the Salt Lake Tribune:

People who vote early are not just those who will be out of town on Election Day, but committed voters who tend to be more activist--the same type of people who vote in mayoral primaries. 2006 was a great year for Democrats nationaly, so Utah Dems (many if not most of whom live in SL County) voted early in larger numbers than Utah Republicans.

Not that Ralph sought out Pete's support over Carroon because of this fact, Ralph would have loved both I am sure. But since Jenny was on the County Council and Peter is the County Mayor, it makes sense he would support the one who he has worked with so much more than Ralph, who Peter knows from his days on the Avenues community council.

While it is impossible to tell what sort of impact either endorsement had on the actual voters, it is clear that Pete Ashdown came out of this looking much better than Peter Carroon. This is true even if it is more the SLC mayoral candidates' "fault" than the endorser's, but politics isn't fair. There is a reason why people wonder how much Al Gore's endorsement is worth after Howard Dean flopped in 2004.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

not a lot for Robert 'Lot' Muscheck

(Photo Credits ©2007 Stephen Holt/Special to The Tribune)

First off, congrats to Ralph Becker and Dave Buhler, who made it past the SLC mayoral primary yesterday. Secondly, a sad congratulations to BYU poly sci Professor Kelly Patterson, who estimated turnout to be 28,000. The actual result: 27,239 people voted in this election, out of 94,578 registered voters for a city of about 180,000 people. In other words, 28.8% turnout and only 15% of the residents of Salt Lake City are deciding which two people might be the other 85%'s mayor.

Other than Jenny Wilson (I will get to her in a second), the most dubious number of the whole night goes to Robert "Lot" Muscheck. This protest candidate got a grand total of...[drum roll please]...fourteen (14) votes. That's right, other than his nuclear family, maybe his brothers' or sisters' family voted for him. That is impressively bad.

We all knew that Keith Christensen was sinking fast ever since he left the GOP, which must have a) struck primary voters as opportunistic and b) reminded them that he was a Republican. But Jenny's fall from first to third place (a mere 1,206 votes separated her from making into the next round, while 2,916 separated Becker from Buhler and 4,122 separated Becker from Wilson) was the most startling. A few predicted this would happen. I got the feeling it would but wasn't brave enough to voice it on my blog before a commenter beat me to it on Ethan's.

Everyone who knows anything about this race knew it was going to be a low turnout affair. Similarly, it is common knowledge that those who do turn out in such elections are usually more partisan and activist than regular voters, let alone like the average public. So running to the center, like Keith and to a lesser extent Jenny did, hurt them. While Buhler pretended to run in the middle, it seems the SLC Republicans figured out that he was their guy.

Becker by contrast focused on liberal activists. He hosted a screening at the Broadway on a documentary on electric cars. Every piece of advertising focused on his liberal creditials, whether it was a sign attached to a bicyclist, or a mailer with Utah's only two homosexual legislators. Moreover, Ralph already represented one of the most liberal and activist areas in the whole city--the Avenues and Capitol Hill-- so he had a built in advantage of already being known by said activists and having a voting record to back up his campaign strategy. He also ran a relatively mistake-free campaign.

Jenny spent her last dollars robo-calling my wife and I 4 or 5 times because we are frequent voters. Even if I hadn't already decided to vote for Becker out of fear that he wouldn't make it to the next round, my friend Dave Everitt, and his blogger outreach, these calls would have sent me over the edge to Becker anyway. First off, one is enough. The repeated nature of it pissed me off. Also, having the fire chief calling in didn't sell me. I never picked up the other ones, but I assume they were from Carroon and maybe Jenny herself.

I didn't have the inside access to the Wilson campaign like I did for Becker's. But from the emails her campaign sent me, I got the impression that hers was a 30,000 feet campaign, whereas Becker's focus was ground-based. And look who surged even beyond the last poll, and who blew a 25-point lead.

In the end, no matter how great of a elected official you would be in office, if you are running, you need to get your people to the polls in droves. No amount of spending or endorsements will overcome that.

Kudos to Jenny for being gracious in defeat and endorsing Becker immediately. I don't recommend Ralph should take Rocky up on that endorsement thing, since he seems to have the Liberman-Midas touch these days.

I am ready to predict that Becker will blow the doors off Buhler in the general, with most of Jenny's supporters going to Ralph (as well as some of Keith's) and Buhler gaining only about 10 points in a two person race.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

let the Matheson mine commission do its job

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. did the right thing by appointing the guy he beat-- Scott Matheson, Jr.-- to head the commission to look into Utah's mine safety.
"You're talking to a lot of people about a lot of things that are often relevant to what we need," Matheson told James Crawford, a senior trial attorney at MSHA and legal advisor to the agency investigation team headed by Richard Gates.
Crawford said he would like to satisfy Matheson's desire for more information but added that there are limitations on what MSHA should disclose before its probe is complete.
"I hope you are sensitive to our need to protect our investigative process," he said, maintaining that releases of bits and pieces of information before the big picture is assembled can lead to premature conclusions that later turn out to be wrong. "We want to do a good job here . . . To do that, we have to respect the investigative process."
In other words, MSHA needs to make sure it doesn't give Matheson's commission anything that will make MSHA look bad, like how they never did anything in March after the first mini-cave in.

Good thing Matheson isn't going to be sitting around waiting for MSHA to hand him the information he needs.
"If we're not getting [information], we're going to push for it," vowed Matheson, former U.S. Attorney and past dean of the University of Utah Law School. "I'd like the [state commission] to make relevancy determinations [on information] and not rely on MSHA. I'd like a commitment of a good faith effort to work this out."
Matheson said he already has met once with some survivors of disaster victims and would be talking with their representatives again Monday to ensure the families are kept abreast of the state commission's activities.
That's something Murray wouldn't do. The next time Murray will talk with their attorneys is when he get subpoenaed for the litigation that is sure to follow.
Matheson fired back that since the state does not have the resources to conduct its own probe, the commission relies on MSHA for pertinent information.

"There's no interest (by our commission) in compromising your investigation," Matheson said. "Our interest is in doing our work consistent with an investigation that you feel is thorough and meets all the confidentiality needs that it needs to meet.

"But at the same time, we'd like to have access to information that would help us in doing our work. And periodic updates and giving us information that you're going to give to the public, at least in my view, is not sufficient."
Scott Matheson is fighting for miner's safety, and he won't let MSHA or anyone else cut corners or whitewash over the truth.

Monday, September 10, 2007

the Becker boomlet

After reading Jenni's thoughtful endorsement of Becker, I saw today that the Salt Lake Tribune has a new poll out that is terrific news for Utah House Min. Leader Ralph Becker (D-Avenues/Capitol Hill).

This poll tracks in my mind with previous polls that showed Keith Christensen sinking to around 11-8% while Ralph Becker was rising. At the time of the last poll, I speculated most of the loss was due to Keith's high profile exit from the Republican party in an attempt to highlight his moderate-ness and separate himself from the Republican label which is an anathema to SLC voters.

However maybe it is people moving from Keith to Ralph due to the later's concentrated advertising push to highlight his progressive/liberal track record/credentials. Or maybe it is the opposite-- that people are moving away from Keith due to his advertising push that I have criticized for being too vague (and filled with meaningless feel-good rhetoric [aka High-Boderism]). But my favorite part of this "article" (it is just a poll with a series of called-in responses to said poll) was the reactions by the various campaigns.
"Whew!" Becker's campaign manager, David Everitt, whistled today when told of the poll results. "I can tell you we're not unhappy with that."
"Really," Jeff Mathis [Jenny Wilson's campaign manager] said. "Interesting." "I never expected to lead in the polls," said Christensen, a former city councilman. "They tend to be about name ID. The only poll that matters is Election Day. Voters will make this call, not the polls."
Buhler, a sitting city councilman, also was measured.
"That's interesting," he said. "What this shows is that it's very important people get out and vote on Tuesday. I felt like it would be close."

The article called Mathis' reaction "subdued" I think he was more shocked and scared than nonplussed. Christensen is typical politician who is behind babble. It is the equivalent to a coach of a sports team saying "We just take one game at a time." And Buhler's "I felt like it would be close," is a back track from the happy talk when he was in a two-way race with Wilson. The fact is, assuming this poll is true, Wilson and Buhler are stagnant/slightly down, Christensen is sinking, and Becker is surging at just the right time. Let's look at the cross tabs.
Wilson, the front-runner in previous polls over the summer, had more than double the unfavorable percentage as Becker, according to the latest survey. Even so, that number for Wilson is small, at 15 percent. Becker's unfavorable is just 6 percent, while Buhler had the highest at 29 percent. Christensen's negative number was 21 percent.
Perhaps surprising, Becker also leads with likely women voters, albeit slightly. The poll also gave Becker small percentage-point edges among Democrats, independents and non-LDS voters.
Buhler leads among likely LDS voters, more than tripling the field in that column.
The only Republican among the major contenders in the officially nonpartisan race, Buhler also dominated the GOP slot. He registered 58 percent of the Republican vote, while Christensen (with 18 percent) had the next closest.
By contrast, the independent vote was close among the top three contenders. Becker leads with 29 percent followed by Wilson (26 percent) and Buhler (22 percent). Christensen snagged just 9 percent of the independent vote.
Very interesting, especially the support from women. It is like Clinton having a bigger share of the black vote than Obama.

With margins this close and turnout this low ("Historically, though, less than 20 percent of registered capital voters typically go to the polls in off-year mayoral primaries."), the ground game is going to make the difference between second place and being out of this race Tuesday night. And if this poll is backed up by a Dan Jones poll this weekend (which I assume is in the field as we speak for the Sunday Desert News), then the order of finish between the top three is utterly unpredictable.

If any of the campaigns were to listen to me, I would suggest that they forget about airing any more commercials, sending out more mailers, and certainly doing any more billboards. The key is calling likely voters, knocking on doors, and maybe honk and waves. May the best man or woman make it past the primary.

UPDATE: I was right about the polls, of course.

chicken hawk by blood

Remember this?
"The good news is that we have a volunteer Army and that's the way we're going to keep it," Romney told some 200 people gathered in an abbey near the Mississippi River that had been converted into a hotel. "My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard."

He added: "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."

Now we learn this is an inherited trait.
[E]xactly 150 years ago, an ancestor of Mitt Romney deserted from U.S. Army troops sent to put down a purported Mormon rebellion in Utah.
Carl Heinrich (Charles Henry) Wilcken, Romney's great-great-grandfather, would give Mormons information about approaching troops, eventually joined the LDS Church and ultimately became a bodyguard and confidant of two church presidents.

The middle name of Romney's father, former Michigan Gov. George W. Romney (also once a presidential candidate), is Wilcken, after that soldier-ancestor.

The little-known soldier in the little-known "Utah War" was a topic Friday at the annual Utah State History Conference.
Wilcken saw poor protection by U.S. troops, which allowed Mormon militia to burn forage in front of the approaching army. LDS soldiers also burned many of the federal supply wagons and ran off the army's livestock. Soldiers had little to eat. Their winter camp in Wyoming would be one of the hardest in the history of the U.S. Army.

Wilcken decided to desert and head for Salt Lake City. But, Richardson said, Wilcken reported a spiritual experience that delayed that action for a day and possibly saved him from being jailed or shot.

As he was about to desert, he said he "heard a voice calling his name" — his real name, not the assumed name he used to enlist. Two other times as he was to leave, he heard his name called and stopped. Wilcken later learned that the cavalry had been on patrol all night watching Mormon camps and likely would have caught him.
Wilcken was baptized into the LDS Church only two months after he deserted the Army and later had plural wives. In later years, he became a messenger and bodyguard for LDS President John Taylor, who was, at times, in hiding during federal anti-polygamy crusades. He also was a bodyguard for President Wilford Woodruff, who succeeded John Taylor and ultimately led the church away from the practice of polygamy.

headline of the day

One of the things I missed when I was back in SLC after livinig in Boston and DC was those free newspapers that were handed out at subway stops. While mostly AP wire stories, they were a good into do the basic news and gave you a short summary of what was going on in all news aspects.

So this morning while I was waiting for the office to open, I grapped one that is run my the Washington Post. In the celebrity section, there was a one sentece article on Casey Afleck's new baby:

"Less Popular, More Talented Affleck Brother Procreates" I couldn't have summed it up any better than that.