Some people are complaining about how tough it is to get elected in Utah or that the political system is broken here.  There are many sound reasons for keeping our current system just the way it is.  The process is not the tough part, winning each vote is.  It takes money and a good message to win, even if elected officials don’t hold to their message after the election.

Running for office is expensive.  You have to gain name recognition and communicate to voters to get the message out.  Todays entertain-me-in-five-seconds-or-I’m-leaving atmosphere have made successfully communicating ideas an expensive process.  People running for office need money.

Unless you are independently wealthy you need to raise money for the campaign which leads to the problem of the corrupting influence of money on campaigns.  We tend to believe that large campaign contributors have special access to elected officials and are able to use their influence to inappropriate ends.  Maybe it does, so we should make the process less expensive.

In the Utah Republican Party a candidate needs to file in the appropriate government office to be eligible to become the party nominee.  If a candidate is unopposed in the party then they will go straight through to a general election in the fall.  If there is more than one candidate in the same party then the candidates will meet and face a vote in convention.  If one candidate gets 60% of the vote at the convention then they are automatically determined to be the nominee from the party and will be in the general election.

If no one candidate has 60% support at the convention, then there is a primary election.  In part due to the ouster of the generally popular Sen. Bennett there have been many complaints about the convention system, that the voting threshold should be raised to 70%, or like California we should move to a top two primary system.  These proposals only empower moneyed interests.  If you are not troubled about the influence of money then this is a good idea.

Part of the reason the Utah Republican party moved to a 60% threshold at the convention level was to help eliminate the necessity and additional cost of primary elections.  By removing a primary election campaign you can lower the cost of a campaign and reduce the need to raise money in the first place.  This would allow non-wealthy folk a fighting chance at getting elected and save money as well.

If you are concerned about the average Utahn having the capacity to run for office without having to raise a lot of money then this process makes a lot of sense.

Public financing of elections is not the answer either.  There are too many strings attached and the candidates from any party other than the Republicans or Democrats never quite seem able to qualify for financing.  It would only help to further entrench the two major parties.

There has been a lot of complaining about the dominance of the Republican party in Utah.  Some people have already given up on Sam Granato (the Democratic Party Nominee for U.S. Senate) in November.  The answer to this problem is to change the Democratic party or be resigned to back seat status.  Cultural shifts that take decades are not likely to return the Democratic party to power any time soon.

The national Democratic party has become far too socially liberal for the majority of Utahns.  Support of abortion on demand, radical feminism, anti-war fervor, repeal of don’t-ask-don’t-tell, support of gay marriage, affirmative action hiring preferences and quotas, gun control, amnesty for illegal aliens, and other issues are opposed to the values of many people in this state.  No wonder they can’t win here.  Utah is so conservative the Constitution Party is gaining power faster than the Democrats in this state.

As long as the Democratic party in Utah continues to mirror the national party they will continue to lose statewide elections.

Attorney General Jan Graham was the last Democrat to win statewide office and left office of her own accord as it became apparent her liberal views would steer her actions which would cost her the next election.  Jim Matheson wins regularly because he has many Democrats in his district and he is one of the most conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives.  If he were any more liberal he probably would have lost already.

The current system allows less well financed people an opportunity to participate and save money by avoiding a primary election.  It helps to negate some of the negative influences money has on elections.

The Utah Democratic party has chosen to adhere to deeply held values rather than being more pragmatic about winning elections in Utah.  Complaining about Republican party dominance without doing anything realistic about it is silly.

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