It must be getting close to Utah‘s caucus night. From the number of mailers arriving each day, you would think that the election was next week, instead of in the latter half of April. In fact, it’s only the selection of delegates that is this week, and there are those out here that question whether trying to stack the caucuses so much is really very good for our system.
Enter pundit Ethan Millard. He level’s his pen at a certain candidate for Attorney General and fires away:
Swallow is trying to get his supporters to become delegates pre-committed to him. Under this tactic, the legitimacy of an election is compromised from the beginning, with delegates never intending to represent their neighborhoods.
Swallow’s not the only one trying to stack the caucus meetings to elect a delegates who will represent him. Millard pegs Ben McAdams, Ross Romero, Carl Wimmer, and Dan Liljenquist, too. Ironically, he left out Senator Orrin Hatch whose campaign manager Dave Hansen told The Hill that the Hatch campaign has been focused on the caucuses for a year and a half.
“We’ve been at this campaign for a year and our focus has been on the caucuses,” said Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen. “We take them very seriously. Are we focused on them? Absolutely.”
Is it easy? No. But that doesn’t stop a cool hand like Hansen’s.
“In effect what you’re doing is putting together 1,820 individual campaigns all occurring on the same night, which is a massive task, to be honest with you,” Hansen said.
Brigham Young University Professor Adam Brown said both sides are well-organized but Hatch’s forces likely have the edge.
“Both Hatch and Freedomworks have sent me a pile of mail. If organization means mailing things out, then they’re both strong,” he said. “I’ve had several mailers from Hatch inviting me to those meetings to train to be a delegate. I haven’t seen anything like that from Freedomworks.”
So the candidates are trying to control who gets elected delegates. So what? That’s called free speech, right?
It is. But that still doesn’t stop people from complaining about Super PACs that spend money unseat incumbents. And if it’s wrong for Super PACs to spend money in Utah, is it wrong for candidates to try to control the neighborhood caucus in neighborhoods they don’t live in?
Back to Millard’s argument:
This is a deliberate subversion of the caucus process as politicians stack the conventions with delegates committed to them, not committed to representing their neighborhoods.
These actions delegitimize the caucus and convention as a system to elect our representatives.
On that note, let me show you what’s been going out this week. First, “the nice” stuff, or mailers that I think help politics in Utah more than hurt.
And then things start to go awry. If this were just an intraparty battle limited to Utah, it might be one thing. But this year, heavy spending out of state PACs have gone to bat for both Orrin Hatch and his competitors. My previous analysis has found that those going to bat for Senator Hatch have been fast and loose with the facts (see here). On the other hand, Freedom Works has spent heavily to talk about Orrin Hatch’s 36 year record in the Senate. Whether you like his record or not, it is what it is, and Freedom Works’ mailers have been far heavier on facts, if less rhetorical than the shadowy Freedom Path.
Does this distort and corrupt our caucuses? That’s for you to decide. Whatever you believe, I encourage you to show up, ask questions of the people who want to represent your vote, and demand that they represent you, not the candidate. This is representation of our interests, not the candidates. Whether it’s perpetual candidates like John Swallow or esteemed Senators like Orrin Hatch, it’s ultimately about how what they are and what they vote will affect our families.
Show up, ask questions, and make a good choice. It only works if you do.
(Personally, I think the sheer number of mailers is because the guys over at Freedom Path saw my post debunking their “facts” and decided that they would hit me with so many I didn’t have time to debunk them again…but I could be a little walleyed about that).
- Freedom Path’s “Outsourcing” Attack on Liljenquist Distorts Business Record (publiusonline.com)
- “Time Changed Hatch” Mailer Factually Correct (publiusonline.com)
- Senate candidate responds to negative ads, talks about campaign (fox13now.com)