50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

From the diaries--Chris

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio! Florida, Florida, Florida! Utah? Utah? Utah!

The fifty state strategy is more than the boom-and-bust operation that sets up shop several months out of every four years in the same swing states courted during presidential elections. It's about electing Democrats from the top of the ticket all the way to the bottom in those very swing states, but also places Democrats have not competed in decades like Alabama, Idaho, and Utah. Yes, Utah.

(Remember to sign-up and participate in the nationwide canvass April 29.)

2005 has been a year of Democratic revival in the land of Orrin Hatch. At the top of the ticket, Pete Ashdown is running against Hatch and has waged a spirited campaign focused on organization, both online and off. But the good news doesn't stop there... In fact, the news gets better as we start to discuss the impact of the Utah Democratic Party in conjunction with the organizers paid for by the Democratic National Committee.

The 2006 election cycle marks the best candidate recruitment for the state party in over fifteen years. There are more Democratic candidates running and more races filled than at any point during that time period. And it's not only life-long Democrats stepping up to the plate and challenging entrenched Republican incumbents, there are a total of six, yes six, registered Republican delegates who decided the Grand Old Party has lost touch with mainstream values in Utah and have switched sides to run as Democrats. In a conversation I had with the Utah Democratic Party's Communications Director, Jeff Bell, he told me that it's been the work of the state's new organizers, along with the party, that has resulted in a smooth candidate recruitment process. Bell said that there is something different about 2006. In the past, it was duty of the party to go out and recruit people to fill as many seats as possible. This year, people are coming to the state party with the realization that it's time for change, and they want to step up and be a part of that change.

But it doesn't stop with candidate recruitment. Bell also shared a story about the statewide caucus that took place late last year. He estimates that Utah County alone, 130 Democrats turned out to participate in the process -- that's compared to a little more than a dozen that showed up the year before. Indeed, because of the great work by the state party, the trend began even before the first organizer stepped foot inside Utah. Bell shared with me some of the 2004 election numbers that showed the best Democratic turnout in decades. There is reason for optimism in places like Utah. Here are some more numbers from inside the state:

  • Democrats have filed in all State Senate races
  • Democrats are offering challenges to 10 State House races that went unopposed in 2004
  • Davis and Washington County have filed candidates in all state legislative races. The last time that happened was 1998.

Your investment in the fifty state strategy, and the committment of the state parties along with the new DNC-hired organizers is getting the job done.

Tags: DNC, fifty state strategy, Utah (all tags)



Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

Well good luck. I admire these Democrats for runnning in the most Republican state in the country. Frankly most of them are probably going to lose their races, and probably by landslide margins. However, if they can at least turn a 20% Democratic state into maybe 35-40% state, they will be doing good.

by jiacinto 2006-04-03 08:31AM | 0 recs
you can't win if you don't play

My husband and I lived in the UK for much of the 1990s. In the first Labour landslide of 1997, they picked up seats in solid, solid Conservative areas that absolutely no one ever expected to go to Labour. They were expected to win a parliamentary majority, but the scale of the victory was shocking.

For decades Labour had continued to field candidates in hopeless districts for them. In so doing they gave Labourites in those areas someone to vote for and paved the way for the 1997 humiliation for the Conservative Party.

I am very pleased to hear about Dems taking on solid Republican districts in Utah. We need to make them work everywhere.

by desmoinesdem 2006-04-04 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

If someday, somehow, we get Utah to elect a Harry Reid-like Senator, then this will all be worth it.  A strong party infrastructure is what's needed for the Democrats to take advantage--over the long term--of the Republican backlash.

by HellofaSandwich 2006-04-03 01:42PM | 0 recs
In 10 years

When Democrats start getting maps that look like what Reagan got in the 80s, except with blue states instead of red, the nay-sayers in the GOP and the media are going to have eat crow.

by jkfp2004 2006-04-03 08:31PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

It will not be easy to get a "Harry Reid-like" senator elected in Utah. There's quite a lot of difference between Utah and Nevada.

But I agree with the idea that a strong party infrastructure in Utah is crucial. I love what Ashdown is doing with his campaign, even though he hasn't a prayer of winning.

And if/when Hatch or Bennett retires, maybe we'll be saying hi to Senator Jim Matheson.

by brownsox 2006-04-04 06:00AM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

Well, not Harry Reid-like in politics, perhaps, but another Mormon Democratic Senator who can get the support of the religious vote.

Maybe we're a generation away from that, but we can dream!

by HellofaSandwich 2006-04-04 05:12PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

Utah will be getting less monolithic soon with all kinds of people moving in from elsewhere, just like Colorado and Nevada has gone purple.

by DaveB 2006-04-04 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

Knowing nothing worth knowing about Utah politics, I was spurred by this piece to take a look.

From the tone, I'd expected to see a Dem desert, relieved by an increasing number of oases here and there.

In fact, there's a pretty even 70:30 split in the 04 prez vote, the parties in the lege - and 2:1 in the US House delegation. (Why would they need to make such ghastly mishapen CDs to produce a fair reflection of state voting?)

I have no idea how many elected offices there are at all levels in Utah; but there seems no valid excuse for the Dems not holding at least a quarter of them.

I don't know what your man Matheson has going for him, apart from being the son of a two-term governor who died young(ish).

But Nebraska shows that a moderate Dem can thrive in a 2:1 GOP state. Why not Utah?

by skeptic06 2006-04-04 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

Why would they need to make such ghastly mishapen CDs to produce a fair reflection of state voting?

simple: they tried to redistrict Matheson out of his seat in 2002. previously, the second district was centered in Salt Lake County, the only part of the state that most Democrats have a shot at winning. so they removed a chunk of the county and distributed it out to the other CDs, adding in its place a bunch of rural counties in the eastern part of the state. except, of course, against all odds Matheson won re-election in 2002, and is now as safe as a Utah Democrat can be. at least, until 2012, when they try to redistrict him out again.

by johnny longtorso 2006-04-04 02:23PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

And the best part is...

They gave Matheson some more constituency to win over.  Now instead of having a Congressman who's known within Salt Lake County, they've got a Congressman who's known in the rural parts of the state, too.  Maybe if they redistrict him enough times, they'll introduce him to the whole state and he'll be unbeatable as a Senate candidate.

I drove through Southern Utah in 2004 and saw innumerable Matheson signs.  He's a popular guy.

by Phoenix Rising 2006-04-04 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

Because of the way TV advertising works, everyone in the state knows who Matheson is and he is the most popular politician in the state.

by DaveB 2006-04-04 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

Not to be picky, but Salt Lake County is NOT the only area in Utah where Democrats can be successful.

There is also Grand County, home to Moab.  Lots of people concerned with environmental issues down there.

by sorrodos 2006-04-04 04:10PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

And Carbon County, Republican-free since 1892!

And Summit County.

And Weber County.

And San Juan County.

And more...

It's not just Salt Lake.

by Newt 2006-04-04 07:17PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

I'd like to point out how Utah affects Idaho politics.  For the southern and eastern parts (basically everything east of boise -blaine county) they vote as does utah: The socially conservative Mormon vote.  West and north, however, votes as Montana does.  It just so happens that these are the congressional lines for Idaho:  The 1st is west and north, while the east and south is the 2nd.  If Utah flips, so can ID-2.  

Oh, do expect ID- 1 to flip.  Larry Grant is going to run a superb campaign.

by Vander 2006-04-04 10:27PM | 0 recs
Re: 50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah

Is it actually possible that Matheson might run for Senate when Hatch or Bennett retires?

by brownsox 2006-04-05 07:01AM | 0 recs


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