1. I think we will be able to glean very little about what will happen in November from Tuesday’s primary elections.
Republicans have a lot at stake on Tuesday with big primaries. That should lead to (relatively) big turnout for a June primary around 20-25%. Will that translate to more turnout in November? Probably not.
University of Utah political science professor Tim Chambless tells me there’s no correlation between turnout in a primary race and the general election, especially since the general is 4 ½ months away.
“Voter turnout is always higher in a presidential election year. Mitt Romney's name at the top of the election ballot is expected to raise voter turnout,” he says. “In Utah, in the newly-created 4th Congressional District, we are expecting voter turnout to be 80% -- the highest of the three other Congressional Districts.”
80% turnout in Utah’s 4th District? Wow. Just...wow.
2. I think if Dan Liljenquist loses to Orrin Hatch, most of the blame will fall on his campaign staff rather than him.
Even if he fails to unseat Hatch, Liljenquist is still a rising star in Utah Republican politics. He’s young. He has money. If he wants to run for another office, he certainly will be able to.
But, who gets the blame for his loss? I think the knives will come out for campaign chairperson Holly Richardson. I’ve had several Republicans remark to me that Richardson may have been in over her head or too concerned about press coverage. That’s unfortunate, but it’s also the nature of the beast. Too bad. She’s bright and engaging. I hope she gets another chance to run a campaign because the lumps she’s taken this time around could be quite instructive in the future.
Instead of blaming someone, we should be focusing on the way Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen has handled the contest. It’s been nothing short of brilliant. Nearly every move he’s made has been the right one. He got Hatch supporters to the caucus meetings and came within a hair of avoiding a primary altogether. Since then, he’s managed to avoid any pitfalls that could have given Liljenquist an opening.
I don’t see that was ever a chance for Liljenquist to grab the momentum in this race,. That’s primarily because of the tactical superiority shown by Hansen.
3. I think no matter who wins the Republican nomination for Salt Lake County Mayor, the general election contest will be one of the best races in Utah in 2012.
Ben McAdams has raised a bunch of money so far. Mike Winder and Mark Crockett have spent a bunch of money in their primary contest. That makes for a competitive race for one of the biggest seats in the state.
Think about it - Salt Lake County Mayor is either the second or third biggest bully pulpit in the state (usually fighting with Salt Lake City Mayor for that honor). It will be the second-highest profile competitive race in November behind Jim Matheson vs. Mia Love. Yes, I know we have a contested U.S. Senate and Gubernatorial race, but there’s a big difference between “contested” and “competitive.” The games between the Harlem Globetrotters were always contested, but rarely competitive. Not all opponents are created equally.
McAdams vs. Crockett would be a study in contrasts. McAdams is young, energized and has embraced social media better than any other Utah politician.
McAdams vs. Winder would be equally intriguing as the two men are both dynamic and aggressive.
I can’t wait to watch this one play out.
4. I think I was surprised by some of the food choices at the Paul Ryan fundraiser for Mia Love.
I got a peek into what some of the well heeled donors were munching on at the Glenwild Golf Course Clubhouse on Friday night while they rubbed elbows with House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan. Prime rib, sushi and...pizza? Yep.
Among the buffet items were 3 or 4 pizzas, including straight-up pepperoni and a Hawaiian pie. An interesting menu selection for attendees, least two of whom drove to the event in a Bentley.
5. I think Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series “The Newsroom” has shot to near the top of my list of favorite television shows.
Sorkin is the kind of writer I want to be like when I grow up. His talent for rapid-fire dialogue is unequaled. His pacing is fantastic and engrossing. You knew you were in for a wild ride in the first 5 minutes when news anchor Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels) responds to a question from a college student about why America is the greatest country in the world with an epic rant about why that’s not true. Just watch this...
Yeah - that just happened.
The rest of the episode is catnip for someone who has spent the majority of his professional life in newsrooms (not as high profile as this one, but stil). Those unfamiliar with the newsroom culture will still find a lot to connect with.
The language can get a bit salty, but if you’ve ever been in a newsroom, that’s not news. Okay, lame joke, but I couldn’t resist.
Shameless self promotion: Here’s my review of the Def Leppard/Poison/Lita Ford triple bill from last week. What a great show! My ears are still ringing.
Parting thought: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” Isaac Asimov