Utah’s Democrats have lost 28 statewide elections in a row, and there’s no sign that’s going to change anytime soon.
In the aftermath of Tuesday night’s election results, the seeds for future electoral successes were nowhere to be found.
Sure Democrats picked up one seat on Utah’s Capitol Hill. Even better, that seat is outside Salt Lake County meaning there will be a rural voice in their caucus again.
But, aside from that, nothing really. They held on to the seats that were open due to retirements from within their own party, but failed to win a single one of other the seats they were targeting this year.
But, it wasn’t all Republican dominance this year either. The GOP had a few opportunities to pick up some seats and failed.
Maybe this is the way it’s supposed to be for a while in Utah politics – with Republicans feasting on votes while Democrats are left scrambling to pick up the electoral crumbs.
Democrats spent the days leading up to the election touting their voter registration efforts. They were going to get thousands of new voters to the polls. That was going to flip some races in their favor.
It didn’t happen.
Maybe it kept some open seats from falling into Republican control, but is that really enough? Maybe it is. Is that what defines success for Utah’s minority party?
So, now what?
The hoary quote about the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over expecting the same result – seems to be appropriate here. Maybe it’s time to do something else?
One prominent Utah Democrat told me the party seems to be waiting for a political “messiah” to come and rescue them from electoral obscurity. They want one candidate who will have such terrible political power that he will vanquish their enemies and usher in a Democratic utopia in Utah.
Problem is, when you’re waiting for a messiah to show up, other opportunities slip through your fingers unseen.
Democrats are going to spend the next year or so holding their collective breath waiting to see what Jim Matheson is going to do.
Will he run for Governor or Senate? Will he run at all?
Meantime, there will likely be very little effort to cultivate another candidate who has a chance of winning either of those races. Everything else will just kind of stop. No fundraising. Just waiting to see if and when Matheson decides to get back in the race.
There’s that stasis thing again.
A body at rest tends to stay at rest, while a body in motion tends to stay in motion.
There’s tons of potential energy in Utah’s political landscape. The trick is to find a way to turn it kinetic.