David Rodeback's Blog

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Saturday, October 30, 2010
David's Handy, Idiosyncratic Election Guide, November 2010 Version

Here's a quick look at everything I expect to be on my ballot when I get to my polling place on Tuesday morning.

We voters have some big decisions to make, and I don't mean whether to be groped or scoped on our next trip through airport security. Here's my quick take on everything I expect to see on my ballot Tuesday, and one thing I don't.

Note that I'm not mentioning third-party candidates. I'm not hostile to them, just indifferent. None of them are really on the radar screen. Besides that, I still think that trying to remake both major parties from within is a sounder course of action. You can see all the candidates, read a little more about most of them, and examine the text of proposed amendments to the Utah Constitution and some related arguments in the state's official Utah Voter Information Pamphlet, which is somewhat customized for specific counties. Pick your county here.

Governor: Gary Herbert (R, incumbent) vs. Peter Corroon (D) and a handful of also-rans

I don't watch state politics as closely as national and local politics, so I have just a few thoughts about this race, instead of a heart full of strong feelings and a head full of talking points. I know people who complain that Gary Herbert is not a real conservative, but I haven't developed any major complaints about him or his running mate, Scott Bell -- and I'm naturally suspicious of people who run around trying to declare who's a true conservative and who isn't. Meanwhile, Pete Corroon has too many of the wrong party's wrong ideas; he has the Utah Education Association's endorsement; and I don't want to reward him for obsessing so much over trivia in his campaign. The fact that Corroon chose a Republican running mate, Sheryl Allen, does absolutely nothing for me.

My vote: Herbert and Bell.

Prediction: Herbert/Bell by a very large margin.

United States Senate: Mike Lee (R) vs. Sam Granato (D)

Quite apart from Sam Granato's fondness for ObamaCare and other atrocities, Mike Lee is the most encouraging new face I've seen in Utah politics in a very long time. He's still a bit green as a candidate, but I like his views on the Constitution, and I think he's a feet-on-the-ground conservative more than a head-in-the-clouds conservative. Here's an adapted and condensed version of something I wrote about him a while back:

I am looking at our growing constitutional and economic crises, projecting both into the future, and judging that the constitutional crisis is both greater and more fundamental. The two crises are related, to be sure; neither the Constitution nor our economic freedom and prosperity could long survive the total collapse of the other. And surely a serious effort to push federal power back toward its proper constitutional limits would not only relieve our constitutional crisis, but also go a long way toward mitigating our economic crisis.


Under the present circumstances, and looking ahead, I want to send to Washington the conservative who knows the Constitution, its history, its principles, and more than two centuries of relevant case law inside and out. In the coming years I want the man in Washington who grew up discussing the Constitution at the dinner table with great minds who were steeped in it for decades.


I want for a senator the one who sees most readily and can argue with the greatest credibility that a given policy is wrong not just because it is based on bad economics, or because it's bad for business, but, more fundamentally, because the Constitution does not grant the federal government jurisdiction over that part of our lives.


In this respect Mike Lee is not only the more satisfactory of the two major candidates in the race; he is the best candidate I have seen in any race in which I could vote in a long time. I want, and I think we very much need, minds like his in the Senate chamber.

My vote: Lee -- but you knew that.

Prediction: Mike Lee by a large margin.

US House of Representatives, Utah's 2nd Congressional District: Jim Matheson (D, incumbent) vs. Morgan Philpot (R)

Jim Matheson has run the most transparent and laughable negative campaign I can remember at the moment. Here's Morgan Philpot's response to several very repetitive mailers which have arrived at my mailbox lately, in case you were tempted for the slightest moment of insanity to believe, for example, that Philpot wants to add a 23 percent federal sales tax on top of our existing tax burden.

I tired long ago of Matheson's use of bad science to panic people about all nuclear waste disposal all the time. I'm not uptight about his voting with his constituents when his party doesn't need him; that's business as usual in Washington. But I do think he's missed a lot of opportunities to exert something that looks like leadership, if he really is moderate-to-conservative, as he wants Utah voters to believe. Recently, for example, he could have taken a stand for extending the Bush tax cuts, instead of providing the winning vote for a motion to adjourn until after the election.

I like Philpot's interest in addressing the problem of how much Utah land is owned or controlled by the federal government. (Mike Lee wants to go after that one, too.) I like his principles in general and the practical and intelligent way he translates them into realistic policy proposals. And I think he's the most electable candidate the Republican Party has put up against Jim Matheson since I moved to Utah in 1998.

Here's an endorsement I wrote recently:

Morgan Philpot is the real thing. He doesn't just push all the right conservative buttons. He has a valuable combination of sound principles, grounded in the Constitution, and a keen, practical understanding of how things get done in government. He'll be a workhorse in the US House of Representatives, not a show horse. He'll represent us intelligently and well.

My vote: Philpot.

Prediction: Philpot by a small-to-very-small margin.

US House of Representatives, Utah's 3rd Congressional District: Jason Chaffetz (R, incumbent) vs. Karen Hyer (D)

I don't get to vote in this race, because I live in the district Jason Chaffetz lives in, not the one he represents. If I did, I'd likely vote for Hyer. It's the show horse vs. workhorse thing, plus the fact that Karen Hyer seems intelligent, sensible, and genuinely conservative -- both of which would be good for Congress and for the Democratic Party.

Prediction: Chaffetz by a large margin.

Utah House of Representatives, 27th District: John Dougall (R, incumbent) vs. Jenn Payne (D)

I usually agree with John Dougall, and when I don't, I still find him intelligent, reasonable, and willing to listen and explain. He works hard, and he doesn't let certain education-related organizations bully him, which is particularly important in a state legislator.

My vote: Dougall.

Prediction: Dougall, by a margin larger than that of any other race mention in this post.

Utah County Commission Seat A: Lane Henderson (D) vs. Gary Anderson (R, incumbent)

Strange as it may sound, for me, I plan to vote for Lane Henderson. For a brief explanation, see my notes on last week's candidates event in American Fork.

Prediction: Anderson will win, because his party affiliation and his promises of no tax increases are enough for a lot of voters.

Utah County Commission Seat B: Doug Witney (R) vs. Ted Barratt (D)

I'll be voting for Doug Witney. For some brief discussion of this race see my notes on last week's candidates event in American Fork.

Prediction: Witney, by a comfortable margin.

Alpine School District Board of Education, District A3: Tim Osborn (incumbent) vs. John Burton

If you don't already know I'm voting -- and campaigning -- for Tim Osborn, this may be the first time you've read my blog. Welcome. Here's my published endorsement:

As a parent, taxpayer, and voter in Tim Osborn's district, I am pleased to have him as my elected representative on the Alpine School Board. He's smart. He works hard. He thinks independently. He has a spine. He knows the schools and the community. He listens when people talk to him. And he shares thousands of parents' desire for a solid, effective mathematics curriculum in every school.

See Tim's campaign blog for a good, thought-provoking explanation of what I think I consider the best reason to vote for Tim Osborn.

My vote: Osborn, as I said.

Prediction: Osborn by a nose.

Constitutional Amendment A

This amendment would preserve the secret ballot in union and other elections in Utah. At the federal level, President Obama and other Democrats want very much to remove this requirement, presumably to make it easier to unionize workers, who will be more likely to vote to unionize if the union is looking over their shoulders and knows how each of them votes. Ironically, the requirement that ballots be secret was originally put in place to protect workers from intimidation by management, not the unions.

For me, this one is a no-brainer. My vote: For the amendment.

Prediction: It will pass.

Constitutional Amendment B

This amendment will apply the same residency requirements to state representatives who are appointed to fill unfinished terms as the state constitution applies to those who are elected. It's filling a loophole, and it makes sense to me.

My vote: For the amendment.

Prediction: It will pass.

Constitutional Amendment C

This slightly expands a tax exemption already in the Utah Constitution, to include nonprofit entities which provide water to irrigate land, provide domestic water, or to provide water to a public water supplier. I'm bemused that there are tax exemptions at the constitutional level in Utah, but I'm include to take a Morgan Philpot line here: cut taxes whenever you can, as much as you can, or words to that effect.

I plan to vote for the amendment.

Prediction: It will pass.

Constitutional Amendment D

This amendment would "establish a five-member legislative ethics commission with authority to conduct an independent review of complaints alleging unethical legislative behavior." This sounds good on its face, and I'm certainly in favor of ethical behavior in government. But I'm suspicious that this won't make much difference in the behavior of state legislatures, and that its principal consequence will be to allow legislators to boast that they've solved the ethics problem. It's also possible that this commission will become politicized sooner or later and be used to serve political, not ethical, ends.

Opponents argue that the voters themselves are the ultimate ethics commission. Proponents say nice things about how important it is to have an independent ethics commission, with no lobbyists or sitting legislators. All in all, I'd probably be suspicious enough to vote against the amendment, if it weren't for a few party leaders and legislators -- whose names I won't mention -- who are against it, which makes me think it might be a good thing after all, and a few I trust more, who are for it, albeit with some reservations.

My vote: For the amendment.

Prediction: It will pass.


I have no views whatsoever about any of the judges the ballot will invite me to approve or disapprove. I've hear third- or fourth-hand rumors about one of them, and there is a campaign -- by parties unknown to me -- against one particular judge, but I don't believe everything I hear on the grapevine or read on a sign.

My votes: I will look into this a little further before Tuesday, but I don't expect to vote against any of the judges, unless I find the arguments against one or two of them credible and convincing.

Prediction: All will be upheld, and almost no one will even notice.

Parting Thoughts

There will be a tidal wave of spin from both sides at the national level, after the results are in. The spin won't matter at all in the long run, even if a few bits of it might be intoxicating. What matters -- to me, at least -- is that people running with a promise to push back the tyranny and profligacy of modern Washington actual start doing that, intelligently and persistently, and create in the process some good momentum for the 2012 elections. The beginning of this revolution is a two-part affair, 2010 and 2012. 2010 is not the end of anything, and we cannot afford it to be.

The composition of the Alpine School Board may or may not change considerably. If it does, and if the new board approaches things sensibly and forcefully, but not too ideologically, it will be interesting to see two things: how openly the establishment fights back, and whether ideologues who feel like change is a win will end up opposed to the new ones, too, because they don't quite toe the ideological line some supporters think they should. I can tell you right now that it will be impossible to govern effectively in the long term and please the ideologues on every point, because some of their favorite points are incompatible with governing -- and, for that matter, with reality. On the other hand, it's time the people's representatives actively governed the public schools, instead of allowing themselves to be led by the establishment instead.

One guy's opinion.

Don't forget to vote.

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