Utah Democrats can’t see the forest for the electoral trees

Do Utah’s Democrats have even the slightest clue what they’re doing? You would think a party that hasn’t won a statewide election since the Clinton administration would be looking for anything that would help them get off the shneid.

That’s why it’s astonishing that the party is virtually ignoring Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams’ success during the 2016 election as they plot a path forward.

Political malpractice.

As we reported earlier, McAdams outperformed the party across Salt Lake County, winning 10 more House districts than other Democrats, including some of the seats the party coveted the most. Hell, McAdams won the home districts of Ken Ivory and LaVar Christensen. Don’t tell me Democrats wouldn’t like to get their hands on those seats.

It doesn’t take a political genius to figure out that McAdams has found a winning political equation.

However, the Democrats seemingly don’t want any of what he’s selling.

Sources close to McAdams tell UtahPolicy.com that only a handful of the candidates for chair have reached out to McAdams for his expertise, and those conversations have been brief. It’s puzzling, to say the least.

But, it’s also indicative of the systemic problems that plague Utah’s Democrats. They’ve been a party at war with itself. One group rails against the more conservative members of their party, calling them “Republican lite.” Another wing has an axe to grind against the LDS Church, blaming Utah’s predominant religion for any and all political defeats they suffer.

Perhaps that’s why they ignore McAdams. He straddles both of those viewpoints. He’s a conservative Democrat who just happens to be LDS. The same goes for former Rep. Jim Matheson.

Yet, those two have enjoyed the most political success the party has enjoyed in nearly a generation.

The politically prudent take away is that Utahns will vote for a conservative Democrat. If they’re LDS, that’s even better.

The party is at a crossroads right now. They are still at near-historic lows on Utah’s Capitol Hill despite picking up one seat in the Utah House in 2016. Despite the fervent hopes of some, the Utah electorate is not trending toward the Democrats. They have to convince Utahns to vote for them. They’re not going to vote Democrat unless they have a reason to vote Democrat.

Whoever wins the race to be the new party chair must find a way to win elections, and soon. Starting with the McAdams blueprint might be a good place to begin.