Sunday, March 25, 2007

It's time for Utah Democrats to make this a two-Party state


By Wayne Holland Jr.

During the 2006 election, one local Republican candidate ran against his Democratic opponent arguing his district deserved "a representative in the Utah State Legislature who is seen as more than an interloper in a one-party system."

There was a time when a "one-party system" was something to be ashamed of, but apparently not anymore.

Being perceived as a "one-party" state has not exactly resulted in better treatment for Utah citizens from previous Republican-controlled Congresses or the White House. Having our votes taken for granted by the Republican Party has proven bad for both the democratic process we hold dear and for our state in general.

Perhaps the most glaring recent example was the proposed Divine Strake test. Though eventually canceled, it took considerable outcry from the citizens of Utah. Having Republican congressmen like Chris Cannon speak favorably of the test didn't help matters.

The Republican Party demonstrated again this month why enjoying solid support in Utah won'ttranslate easily into benefits for our state. Utah has been seeking a fourth congressional district since the 2000 census. The Legislature was even called back into special session in 2006 to redraw district boundaries in anticipation of the lame duck Republican Congress finally taking some action on the proposal. They never did.

Within 48 hours of Democrats passing a bill out of committee earlier this month giving Utah the fourth congressional district it has been seeking for seven years, President Bush announced his opposition to it. No more than a couple of more days passed before Sen. Bennett declared the bill's chances in the Senate practically zero as a result.

Republicans serving on Utah's Capitol Hill are not immune to the arrogance that comes with almost absolute power over the legislative process. Public opinion polls have consistently shown strong support among Utahns for their neighborhood public schools. In spite of this fact, vouchers passed the House by one vote and the Senate by nine votes without a single Democrat
voting in favor in either chamber.

Popular reforms that consistently enjoy two-thirds support or greater -- including the creation of a bipartisan redistricting committee, banning or further limiting gifts from lobbyists to legislators and prohibiting legislators from using campaign funds for personal purposes -- rarely
received a hearing in committee, let alone a vote on the floor of the House or Senate.

Perhaps the most significant of the reform measures introduced by Democrats during the 2007 session, but denied even the benefit of a debate in committee, was Rep. Roz McGee's legislation creating a bipartisan redistricting commission. Utah is not nearly as monolithic as it appears. Upward of 43 percent of Utahns vote entirely or partially Democratic in just about every election. Unfortunately for Utah's voters, our Legislature has acquired national renown for using the redistricting process to select their voters instead of enabling voters to hold their legislators accountable.

After the 2000 census, Utah's redistricting fiasco garnered attention in papers like the Wall Street Journal, which pointed in disgust at the moving of nearly 700,000 voters from one congressional district to another in a blatant attempt to get rid of Congressman Jim Matheson. The Standard-Examiner, The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News were openly critical of this blatant gerrymandering, as well.

It has become apparent the voices of Utah voters are not being heard on key issues. The Utah Democratic Party commends those willing to exercise their constitutional rights to be the ultimate "deciders" in Utah by pursuing referenda to ensure they are finally heard, and commits itself to continuing to fight for their interests into the future.

Holland is chairman of Utah's Democratic Party.

30 comments:

43% myth said...

The 43% myth is based on statistical sleight of hand.

The Democrats come up with the 43% number for legislative races by EXCLUDING races where Democrats didn't field a candidate. If Democrats are going to claim to represent the ENTIRE state, they should include ALL races when calculating this percentage.

Instead of multiplying 43% by 75 representatives, the Democrats should multiply 43% by the number of races (55) they fielded candidates. That would mean 23 or so representatives in the House.

Keep in mind the 43% occurred in a good year for Democrats. It would be interesting to see what happened in 04 and 02.

The Democratic methodology encourages parties to run candidates and spend resources only in races where they are sure to do well. If the Republicans ran candidates only in their best 55 districts, their overall vote percentage would be more than 75%.

FairVoteSaltLake said...

Decreasing voter turnout shows that voters are disillusioned by the bi-partisan rigging of elections ... and rightly so.

We should be just as outraged that the incumbent parties are cheating us out of fair elections through a "two-party system" as we would be if college admissions were administered under a "two-race system" or radio programming was limited to a "two-station system."

Utah Democrats will have no moral credibility to complain about unfair elections until they abandon their bipartisan bigotry and work to make elections fair for everybody.

Anonymous said...

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How bush destroy usa too much. destroy mental and emotional of amriki people.

but usa media so control (google: mighty wurltizer +cia) never to asking how bush becoming president.

this called the media coverup. bush family long time so corruption with intel community. am him bush jr. real republican? who these eviling people making him the president?

This make the cure for republican freedom people making majority. love the god, and love the family and working so hard every day.

but controlling hims of republican not this kind good person. him the wicked and loving the power and the torturing people, children of god, this too wicked. hims also loving the LBT (low back tattoo) and the killing the baby of abortion and ameriki woman becoming the slut for taking all the man.

stop1984now@yahoo.com

Emily said...

43% myth -

Why so testy? The 43% number can only be based on races where there were Democratic candidates. A voter can't vote for a Democrat if there isn't one in the race.

I believe the best is yet to come for Utah Democrats. We are already fielding an excellent slate of candidates in 2008 and I believe we will pick up more seats.

Finally your misguided logic regarding the "Democratic methodology" on how we run candidates - It is true that we look for the best possible candidates we can find, but to say that we only spend resources where Democrats can win is kind of silly. Many of our state-level candidates took the bullet for the party this year, knowing full-well what the results would be. They did it in the interest of balance, and to offer voters a different point of view.

Jeremy said...

Mr. Holland and Emily are right on.

I'm a conservative/libertarian who moved back to Utah a year ago after an 8 year absence from Utah's politics. I had always been a Republican and anticipated remaining one when I returned to Utah. Utah's status as a one party state changed my mind. It is a corrupt system that needs to change.

I'm surprised more moderate conservatives haven't made the switch with me. I know there are huge number of Utahns who don't want money wasted on a voucher system, who don't want a legislature which is so easy to buy, and who are tired of being ignored because their representative government can't be changed unless the Republican party machine is the tool doing the changing. Here's hoping these Utahns finally decide to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

I don’t believe that Utah is ready for more Democrats in the legislature.

Look at the last election, look at all the time and money that was spent in a year when democrats made great strides around the country, democrats standing in the state legislature remained the same – if democrats couldn’t make great strides in 2006, I don’t think they ever will.

In order for democrats to make inroads in this state, they need to prove that they are not the party of social change, the need say no to gay rights, no to gay marriage and show that they actually have something to offer voters outside the SLC area.

Anonymous said...

Emily,

The Democrats have been saying that they should have 43% of House seats because they received 43% of the vote in 2006. What if the Libertarians ran in only ONE race and that candidate received 20% of the vote in that ONE race, should Libertarians be able to claim 20% of all House seats?

Anonymous said...

Emily,

If Republicans ran candidates in just 55 districts (presumably the Republicans' strongest districts), then the Republican "share" of the vote would go up also.

In the last election, if Republicans just included their best 55 seats (which is what the Democrats did), then their share of votes would increase to over 70%.

If the Democrats want to run candidates in just 55 districts, fine. Just don't take the percentage of votes in those 55 districts and multiply it by 75 House seats to determine the Democrats' "fair" share of the House.

Anonymous said...

Utah is ready for more Democrats. I was raised a Republican by my parents who made my brothers and I believe that being LDS meant that politically I was a Republican.

When I told my mother that I thought I was a Democrat my mother smiled and told me that she has been voting Democrat for years (Dad died five years ago).

The reason mom changed? She explained that she can no longer trust those running the Republican Party.

You can keep using the old slogans and rhetoric, but if Corroon and Matheson are example's of those "socialist" Democrats than I say elect more Democrats!

Emily said...

55 races.

Utah democrats didn't recruit candidates in the remaining 20 districts because we had nobody to recruit. If a Peter Carroon or Christian Burridge or Trish Beck had shown up anywhere in Utah County, believe me, they would have been on the ballot.

And by the way, just because there is a republican monopoly in Utah, ti doesn't mean our candidates couldn't have won anywhere else. It's not that we don't have excellent candidates, it's that voters have a stuck mindset.

Emily said...

Here is the formula -

It is based on the number for all races (federal and state) where there were D's in the race. Where there weren't D's, the Democrats *still* received 38.9% or 39%. And the number for all contested races (federal and state) is 43.9% or as follows:

Democratic
535,093
Republican
683,864
Total
1,218,957
Dem %
43.9%
# of Races
66

In 2004, Scott Matheson, Jr. received 42% of thte vote.

In 2000, Bill Orton received about the same number.

Anonymous said...

Emily,

I think your comment is insulting to the voters Utah.

Utah voters are not in a mind set, I believe they are well educated and know what they are doing when they enter a voting a booth.

Just like your comments on vouchers, you fail to look at the whole picture.

You are becoming one of those liberal elitists that looks down their noses at the common person.

Richard Watson said...

Anon:
That was uncalled for! What Emily is saying is that most voters in Utah are lazy. No one is saying that they are not educated enough to make a decision in the voting booth, but they are lazy when it comes to investigating the candidates. Many voters assume too much when it comes to individual candidates.
Also, there are many who have no idea who the candidates are. Last fall, as I walked my district, I found quite a few people who had no idea who I was. And those same people had no idea who my opponent was, even though she was a 12 year incumbent. The scary part is that most of them actually vote.
Also, if anyone is voting because of party and not because of the candidate, then that is why we are having the problems in our state. The stereotypical labels that Repubs are the "moral" party and Dems are the "immoral" party needs to change.

Richard Watson said...

Also,
Comments about "liberal elitists" usually comes from Hannity wannabes. Give me a break, if anyone in this state are elitists, it is people like Chris Cannon, Orrin Hatch and Greg Curtis. They do not care what the people want, they are satisfying their own needs and wants.

Anonymous said...

Liberal elitist?

Look in the mirror anonymous

Anonymous said...

"The scary part is that most of them actually vote"

Richard you are just as bad, not trusting the voters in your district, no wonder you weren’t elected.

On Election Day, I see so many people on line at the election polls with hand written lists of who they are going to vote for, I trust that they read the paper and the campaign literature and know what they are doing in the election booth.

If you don’t have trust in your fellow citizens you are just as bad as the elitists in Democratic Party who look down at the common man.

An old fashioned Democrat Who Votes

Anonymous said...

Maybe the voters of Utah should be insulted. They keep voting for Orrin and that protector of pedophiles Chris Cannon.

Anonymous said...

Old fashion Democrat.

You are no Democrat.

Anonymous said...

“Richard Watson said...

…..that most voters in Utah are lazy

…..but they are lazy when it comes to investigating the candidates”

Richard, on your campaign web site you went on to say

“I will strive to represent Davis County residents with:
• good character and ethics while earning the public’s trust.

an understanding that voters are my equals and that I am not above anyone.”

These comments show what a hypocrite you are …. You praise potential voters, but when you loose you ridicule and critize them.

Don’t throw stones when you live in a glass house.

Anonymous said...

“Richard Watson said...

The stereotypical labels that Repubs are the "moral" party and Dems are the "immoral" party needs to change.”


These labels are the common impression of most people, in order for these labels to change ; the party needs to change.

Emily said...

Anon -

I take offense to your comments that somehow because I'm calling it like I see it that I'm an "elitest liberal." I knocked on over 6,000 doors last fall and although many of them were receptive to my message, there were a few people who 1. slammed the door in my face; 2. told me that they couldn't vote for me because of my position on choice (never mind that I'm a pro-life Democrat) and 3. told me not to waste my time because they would NEVER vote for a Democrat. I believe this mindset to be true of many utah voters. One young voter at SUU yelled at me for 20 minutes because if I was a Democrat, apparently there was no way I could have ANY moral virtues. Another student told me to just "put my garbage away" because there was "no way in hell" he would *ever* vote for a Democrat.

So, say what you want, but there IS a mindset among Utah Republican voters - some of them even think that they cannot physically VOTE for a Democrat, as if the voting machine won't let them do it. (I met one of these people so don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about.)

So, is calling a spade a spade being elitest? No, my comments are only based on exactly what I see and what my experiences are. You ought to try running as a Democrat in Utah - for me, it was an eye-opening experience.

hello dashing said...

Anonymous -

Would be really cool if you would use your real name.

I don't believe for one minute that you are really a Democrat. I have read your bile directed at Emily. How can a person not like Emily? Everybody likes Emily!

I also don't think you're a Democrat because you take such offense to anything anybody says about Republicans... and you seem to champion their ideas (vouchers) and use their language (elitest liberal.).

Rob said...

Emily, just remember the old saying, "up your nose with a rubber hose".

I like it A LOT!

Emily said...

Rob -

You are right, that does feel better.

:-)

Anonymous said...

Like my father before me, I am a Democrat.

Where I find fault with the party is that they have forgotten about the Middle American voter, the silent majority.

Democrats don’t do well with alternative opinions in their ranks here in Utah

Support vouchers – you are out

Support economic development – you are out

Pro-life – you are out

Believe in God – you are out

I remember hearing fellow democrats talk with Glee about how they voted for Ralph Nader in lieu of Al Gore – and how the party had been defiled by Clinton for moving to the middle and how the democrats would have to wake up and go more to the left.

Moving to Utah, I was shocked to go to precinct night (where I was elected a delegate 3 times for 3 State and County Conventions) where I heard jokes cracked about Mormons that the politically correct would never tell about any minority and realizing, Democrats in this state didn’t trust Mormons.

I look at how the Democratic Party panders to the gay vote in SLC, alienating voters in the rest of the state.

Look at yourselves, we live in a conservative state, if we are going to make inroads we need be more conservative fiscally, and more important socially. If we don’t our status as a minority party is assured

An Old fashioned Democrat Who Votes

Emily said...

Old Fashioned Democrat who votes -

I can't take it anymore. How can you claim all of those things about me and make such assumptions?

Believe in God - I am IN. I am an active and committed member of the LDS church. I hold a stake calling and I have been active in the LDS church all of my life and I was married in an LDS temple. Your comment is playing into the idea that Mormons can't be good Democrats. I am living proof that words LDS and Democrat can co-exist in the same sentence. I also know many many many people of faith who believe in God and who attend church regularly who are also registered D's. If you want to know exactly how I feel about this? go here: Sacrament Meeting

Pro-Life - I am IN. I am a pro-life Democrat. Period. I have said for years that there must be a larger tent on this issue. Many Democratic donors would not give to my campaign because I wouldn't delcare myself "pro-choice" in the way they wanted me to do it.

Support economic development – I am IN. I am a small business owner and I come from a long line of business-owners. I support capitalism as long as it doesn't step on the toes of the little guy or the regular old citizen. Economic development is good for our rural communities, so long as we don't have out of control growth. But nothing about this says that economic development is bad.

Pandering to the gay vote - I don't have to pander to anybody. I have friends who are gay and I am sensitive to their issues, but I *never* made their issues a point of my campaign. If I lived in SLC, I wouldn't do it there, either.

Vouchers - you and I don't agree, but I believe I am on the side of Utah citizens.

Since the beginning, I have supported Congressman Jim Matheson because he is a fiscally conservative, blue dog Democrat. He receives a lot of flack for his politics, but I have solidly stood behind him because I am the same kind of Democrat.

So pay attention before you start telling me who I am and what I stand for.

Anonymous said...

Emily,

That wasn't directed at you - it was my impression of democrats in SLC.

Emily said...

Ok, thank you for the clarification.

But you have to remember that the Democrats in SLC can afford to go a little bit more left than the rest of the state. They win there anyway because their voters tend to be more liberal.

I became involved because I'm more conservative than they are, and I believe that Utah needs more conservative Democrats in the Utah legislature.

So there it is... I am a Utah Democrat... If you are concurring that there are some of us, no *many* of us in this state who hold some of these core Utah values very dear, then holy cow, we actually agree on something.

Jeremy said...

To: Old Fashioned Democrat Who Votes Republican

You clearly have no clue about what it means to be a Democrat in Utah. The Democratic party in this state is more accepting of ideological diversity than the Republicans will ever be because it HAS TO BE! We need all the members we can get because we are vastly outnumbered by uninformed Republicans who vote for the "R" candidates because they've never bothered to consider any other alternative. I've seen this lazy behavior and I've participated in it too. Before leaving Utah for 8 years I would never have considered voting Democratic. Now that I'm back and can see the corruption that one party rule has brought to our state and local governments I can't see how any sane person who is paying attention could possibly vote for most of the jokers the Republicans put on the ballot.

Your defense of Republicans at every turn makes you part of the problem. We can blame people like you for the unethical legislators who can still take campaign contributions and uses them for their personal finances. People like you are responsible for a new "parental choice" program that isn't needed and that wastes tax payer money. Thanks also for a government that thinks it is our nanny and legislates our morality.

You...an "Old Fashioned Democrat"....?

Not likely.

Richard Watson said...

anon:
You're calling me the "hypocrite"? Give me a break. Sounds like you need to visit a dictionary and look up what Hypocrite means. First of all, you have never revealed who you are, which means you can not stand up for yourself and you have to hide. Second, by calling yourself an "old-fashioned" Democrat, you are putting yourself into a position of hypocrisy with the months anti-public education comments posted on this blog.
Third, you have no idea who I am and who my neighbors are. I'm surrounded by Republicans and I go to church where 90% of my ward votes Republican. They like me and we constantly talk about dozens of local issues where most of the time, we are in agreement. So back off, Anon!
Signed,
By Richard Watson,
an FDR Democrat who cares about people