Sunday, January 20, 2008

It can't be! Republicans running as Democrats?! In Utah?!

Rolly: Voucher fallout: Some Republicans running as Dems in Utah County

By Paul Rolly

Believe it or not, there is evidence of a political sea change brewing in Utah County politics. If so, chalk it up to last year's tsunami over private school vouchers.

Whether it turns out to be a ripple or a flood remains to be seen. But two registered Republicans who are prominent citizens of their communities have announced they will run for the Legislature as Democrats. And at least a half dozen more well-known leaders will announce as Democratic candidates within the next few weeks.

"Things are changing," says Utah County Democratic Chairman Larry Brown. "The Republicans here have lost touch with their constituents. The Democratic Party is a moderate party here that represents the mainstream voter."

He points not only to the voucher debacle that dominated Utah's political climate in 2007, but to the Republican legislative leaders in Utah County having pressured a Utah Technical College official to build the party a parade float using school resources, and to some Utah Valley lawmakers running legislation that benefits them personally.

Utah County has been one of the most Republican counties in the nation the past two decades. A Democrat has not been elected to the Legislature from that county in this millennium. For the past several election cycles, many races have gone uncontested, or a token Democrat with zero expectation of victory has been offered up for slaughter. Every race in the county is decided in the Republican convention or in a primary.

But this year is different.

Steve Baugh, the former superintendent of the Alpine School District, recently announced he would run as a Democrat against Republican Rep. Steve Sandstrom of Orem. Baugh has not been much involved in partisan politics, although he says in his heart he always has been a Democrat. Still, he registered as a Republican two years ago to support Sandstrom, who was running in the Republican primary against incumbent Jim Ferrin.

Ferrin had benefited financially from the growth of charter schools made possible in part by legislation he sponsored and Sandstrom was running as the anti-voucher candidate. That is why Baugh, as an educator, supported him. Then Sandstrom shocked his supporters by voting for the voucher bill, which passed the House by a single vote.

"It seems the predominant party has moved away from the centrist point of view," said Baugh, who acknowledged he considered challenging Sandstrom as a Republican but decided against it.
That's the same for Gwyn Franson, a two-term member of the Highland City Council whose husband, Jay, is the current Highland mayor. Franson, too, is a registered Republican but is running as a Democrat against Republican incumbent John Dougall.

She, like Baugh, found the Republican Party in Utah County too closed, too cliquish. "I just decided there needs to be competition. There needs to be a race between two sides for the issues to be debated properly."

The voucher law rejected by voters was a factor, she said, but not the only one. Baugh said vouchers highlighted how out of touch GOP legislators are with their constituents. The rigid reverence most Republican legislators had for vouchers stood in sharp contrast to the general public, which defeated vouchers in the referendum by 24 percentage points. Utah County voters rejected vouchers by a 53-47 percent margin.

The Democratic Party lost its way with Utah voters beginning in the 1970s with a sharp turn to the left by the national party and many rank-and-file Utah Democrats showing a disdain for Mormon candidates.

Now, Baugh, Franson and perhaps several more respected Utah County citizens are saying it is the Republicans who have abandoned the mainstream. For the past several election cycles, many races have gone uncontested, or a token Democrat with zero expectation of victory has been offered up for slaughter. Every race in the county is decided in the Republican convention or in a primary.


Anonymous said...

This is exactly the opposite of what we need to do. Instead of Republicans running as Democrats, we need to run Democrats as Republicans.

That's how we got Calvin Bird, Brent Haymond, Jordan Tanner, and Dave Cox elected. They knew they couldn't get elected as Democrats in Utah County.

In 2000, Utah County Democrats were "resurgent" under Nancy Jane Woodside. John Curtis was supposed to beat Curt Bramble but lost two to one. Jed Mitchell was supposed to beat Bill Wright. And so on.

This is a flawed strategy. Now all we have is conservative Republicans in Utah County. If we could get some Democrats elected as Republicans, we could have some moderate Republicans in Utah County.

Anonymous said...

The truth is Steve Baugh has always been a Democrat in his heart. I disagree. We can never win as long as we are not true to who we are. So many Utahns are Republicans and don't truly know why.

Rob, do not fall for this line of thinking. You're going in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Reasons NOT to vote for a Utah Democrat

Utah Democrats distort the biblical view, and redefine "morality, values, diversity, tolerance, discrimination, and hate crimes."

In the hopes that more Utahans, whose families have always voted for Utah Democrats, awaken to the fact that the liberal Democratic Party caters to and refuse to object to the likes of:

Labor Union Bosses who collect forced union dues to fund Democratic campaigns
National Education Association which has already changed public and higher education into indoctrination, removing America's Christian Heritage from the classroom and allowing GLSEN to spew forth its distorted unbiblical view of "morality, values, diversity, tolerance, and discrimination."
Pro-death industry which has successfully been a part of killing over 45 million babies since 1973.
Anti-Christian Organizations such as the ACLU, American United for Separation of Church and State.
Hollywood elites
Liberally biased "mainstream News Media
Michael Moore
Michael Newdow

Utah Democrat said...

Anonymous, your horns are showing.

"Utah Democrats distort the biblical view, and redefine "morality, values, diversity, tolerance, discrimination, and hate crimes."

Who has redefined a false morality?

Who has distorted biblical views?

It is so unfortunate that you continue to bear false witness by spewing hate, fear, and discrimination against your friends and neighbors.

Jason The said...

What you've listed there, anonymous, is a long list of poorly informed talking points.

The ACLU is "anti-Christian"? Who taught you that?

What is happening here is Utahns are realizing, belatedly, that the Democrats better reflect the values we often tout but seldom legislate; defense of the middle class family, protection of our civil liberties, and responsible government as opposed to the largess of today's GOP. As the commenter before you writes, many in Utah are Republicans and don't know why. The Republican Party has changed, and left them behind.

And Steve Olsen can proudly say he was the first to tell us! (Even if it took us years to listen)

Anonymous said...

To Anon.1,

How can Democrats run as Republicans in Utah County when the Utah Co. GOP limits even its own from participating in leadership positions -- even if or perhaps especially if they are moderates?

The problem is that the GOP tent has become so small and restrictive in Utah County that it is not representative of its citizens or for that matter even its own party. Gwyn Franson is exactly right when she says the Democratic Party has become the moderate party of Utah County. What's more the Republican Party in Utah County has become so extreme that it is no longer effective -- i.e. the only way it can get anything done is to shut out other opinions. This has created a stranglehold on the party in Utah County. So the problem in Happy Valley is really two-fold: the Republicans are so conservative that they are no longer representative of the mainstream party and citizens, and because of this, to maintain their power they feel they have to monopolize the situation, which has the result of making things even more extreme. The handling of the voucher issue is the perfect example.

Hopefully, normal, everyday Republicans will recognize this and the fact that they will actually have a greater voice if they look outside their own GOP for representation. It's actually kind of sad that the Democratic Party now finds itself in the position that it must represent not only members of its own party but the opposing party as well. But that just goes to show how accepting, tolerant and inclusive Dems really are.

Cameron said...

Not everyone is happy with the moderation of the Utah County Democratic Party.

Salt H2O said...

Nationally we've got Democrats running as Republicans (McCain and Huckabee)

Democrat, Republican- who cares? Let's start worrying about electing responsible, intelligent compitent individuals versus those that have been labeled correctly.

Jason The said...

Salt H20,

Not by any stretch of the imagination can you call McCain or Huckabee "Democrats" running as "Republicans." Both belong, entirely, to the Republican nomination field. Examples:

Q: If you were in the Senate or the House, would you vote to oppose the president sending more troops to Iraq?
A: I think that's a dangerous position to take, to oppose a sitting commander in chief while we've got people being shot at on the ground. I think it's one thing to have a debate and a discussion about this strategy, but to openly oppose, in essence, the strategy, I think that can be a very risky thing for our troops.
McCain: Mr. McCain not only interrupted a voter’s question telling him we should ‘make it a hundred’ years in Iraq and ‘that would be fine with me,’ he told a reporter after the event that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for ‘a thousand years’ or ‘a million years,’ as far as he was concerned.

Those are both arguments created, propelled, and now owned by the Republican Party. And to support those with better ideals is now, just because they happen to be Democrats, is now too partisan? Historically, this is the argument conservatives use when their chips are down. When they are in a favorable public light it's all "Vote Republican!" and when they are taking their lumps for abuse of power, its "this is too partisan, we need to stop thinking so partisan!" It's foolish.

Plain and simple, all of the intelligent, competent candidates in the 2008 national race are Democrats, and using the argument Rolly offers here, a majority of the representatives locally who support values and principles reflective of Utahns are Democrats. It's not time to seek a third party, or complain about a two party system (when we've only had one in Utah now for many, many, many years), it's simply time we started voting more intelligently and competently ourselves (for Democrats).

I don't mean to yell, but the "they all suck" argument which arises anytime the GOP is painted in a poor light is one of my pet peeves, and does a disservice to, in your own words, very "intelligent and competent" candidates (can't say it enough, this time around it's Democrats).

CraigJ said...

salt h2o,

Thanks for stopping by the Amicus.

Mike Huckabee does not represent the values of the Democratic party. He's running exactly where he should be - as an undignified, out-of-step, hatemongering Republican extremist. He's a horrible candidate who will soon be relegated to a footnote.

Rob said...

You can't please everyone Cameron.

Cameron said...

McCain and Huckabee (especially McCain) support the current efforts in Iraq, so that supersedes all else? I guess it did for Sen. Leiberman.

Isn't that a little too "single-issue voter" for Democrats? Utah Republicans catch a lot of flak, including on this blog, for being Republican mainly because of social issues like abortion. I personally know a number of people that will not be Democrats based solely on the abortion issue. Those people are lamented, if not outright ridiculed, on forums like this one for being too attached to a single issue. But apparently that only cuts one direction.

Both McCain and Huckabee espouse policies that many Republicans take issue with, including things like taxes and immigration. Many feel that on those issues, these candidates are awfully similar to the Democratic candidates. Hence the RINO tag.

As far as being "intelligent, competent candidates", it's worth noting that the only candidates with any executive experience are Republican. Now, that might not be a huge deal when considering presidential aspirants, but flying the "competent" flag sounds a bit disengenous when the top Democratic candidates' experience ranges from losing a run for Vice President, being a Senator for about 2 minutes, and being the wife of a former president. Also worth noting is that two of the three voted for the Iraq war, and the other didn't solely because he wasn't elected yet. His current protestations against the war, however, haven't stopped him from continually voting to fund it.

Nikki said...

It's funny how certain situations change a person's perspective.

Since Barack Obama came along my eyes have opened to the grievances republicans had against the Clintons.

Lately Bill has been basically telling lies and distorting Obama's record. I'm sure these are the kinds of tactics that have led to the bitter divisions between the two parties. It's almost not surprising that they took him to impeachment proceedings to prove the point that Bill lies.

I hope we don't end up with Hillary as our president. The gains our party could see in Utah would be lost.