Is Being Anti-Trump Enough?
When Bernie ran for president in 2016, he beat Hillary in every single county, mostly in landslides. Of Utah's 29 counties, Bernie exceeded three-quarters of the vote in 15 of them:
Daggett County- 86.7%
Utah County- 85.3%
Weber County- 82.8%
Davis County- 82.4%
Iron County- 81.5%
Cache County- 81.5
Tooele County- 80.0%
Grand County- 79.6%
Salt Lake County- 78.8%
Kane County- 78.2%
Wasatch County- 76.4%
Uintah County- 76.3%
Box Elder- 75.5%
Hillary broke 30% in just 5 counties:
Millard County- 36%
San Juan County- 35.2%
Carbon County- 33.5%
Summit County- 31.2%
Washington County- 30.4%
Statewide, it was a rout-- Bernie 79.3% and Hillary 20.3%. Bernie campaigned in Utah several times; Hillary ignored the state. And yet... the Democratic establishment, unlike the Democratic voting base, was/is conservative and corporate-oriented. Virtually all of the prominent Democrats in the state endorsed her. But even after such a complete rejection by the state's voters, Hillary still walked away with 8 of Utah's 37 convention delegates.
Four years later, Bernie swept the 2020 Utah primary, despite massive ad spending by Bloomberg:
Bernie- 79,728 (36.1%)- 16 delegates
Biden- 40,674 (18.4%)- 7 delegates
Elizabeth Warren- 35,727 (16.2%)- 3 delegates
Bloomberg- 33,991 (15.4%)- 3 delegates
Mayo Pete- 18,734 (8.5%%)- no delegates
Why the history lesson? I just wanted to establish that utah Democrats aren't a bunch of neanderthal conservatives like Utah Republicans. The Democratic voters chose Bernie over Hillary and then Bernie over Biden. This year, they won't have a Democrat to vote for, just a choice between two Republicans-- a fascist and a conservative... because that's what the Democrat establishment wanted. I'll come back to that in a minute. A little more history.
In 1958, when I was 10, Utah was already a ruby red state but when a Republican 2-term former governor ran as an independent, Democrat Frank Moss defeated GOP incumbent Arthur Watkins with 38.7% of the vote (to Watkins' 34.8% and 26.4% for Bracken Lee, the other Republican). In 1964, Moss was reelected 57.3% to 42.7% and 6 years later he won with a similar margin. In 1976 he was finally defeated (by Orrin Hatch, who died yesterday). No Utah Democrat has been elected to the Senate since. And yesterday the state party decided to not even bother running a candidate but to instead endorse conservative former independent Evan McMullin, who is running as an independent.
You think Sinema and Manchin are bad? In the off chance that McMullin wins-- very unlikely-- you will be pulling your hair out of your head. He is anti-Trump... and other than that a typical conservative Republican-- anti-Choice, anti-gay... conservative on every important issue. The Democrat behind this coup was former Congressman Ben McAdams, who won a term in the 2018 blue wave, joined the Blue Dogs, voted like a Republican-- including voting against raising the minimum wage-- and was immediately defeated in 2020.
This is where the Democratic establishment-- not just in Utah-- sees the Democratic Party going-- merging with the anti-fascist conservatives, abandoning whatever is left of the party Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt once led to greatness. They've always wanted to reclaim the party's conservative, pro-corporate roots.
In Utah, this came as no surprise. The Republican wing of the party-- the McAdams shit heads-- had been plotting this for months. McAdams has been campaigning for McMullin since the day he announced his candidacy in October, 2021-- so long before the evidence came out that Mike Lee was an active participant in Trump's attempted coup. (Unlike Utah Democrats, in 2020 McMullin had endorsed the conservative Biden.)
In his relentless push to cancel Kael Weston, the Democrat in the Senate race, McMullin boasted that McMullin "isn’t going to align with Democrats on every issue. But he has a path for winning this race." Westin's path would have been the exact same path as Frank Moss' in 1958-- slip in while the 2 conservative Republicans savaged each other. But McMullin, in his mania for a conservative, has guaranteed that Lee will get another term in a head to head match-up with McMullin, who only drew 21.5% of the vote in 2016. (Trump got 46.5% and Hillary 27.5%.) In 2020, Trump took 58.1% to Biden's anemic 37.6%
McAdams made this case: "There’s a lot at stake in this election, and it’s time that we join together-- join a coalition with moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats-- to say we want a senator that’s going to be part of solving the problem, not causing problems. Someone to break the gridlock, not be a source of gridlock. So I’m a proponent of Utah Democrats voting to not have a candidate and to join the coalition alongside Republicans, independents, United Utah Party, to have a say, to be relevant in this election rather than just give up and go down a path that we know will end in a loss."
Imagine that McMullin is likely to vote against every single thing that is important to Democrats-- albeit not important at all to McAdams. Did I say worse than Manchin and Sinema? This is what the Deseret News reported last week about the non-McAdams argument:
“The Utah Democratic Party is not the unseat Mike Lee party,” Weston said. “If this campaign is just about Mike Lee, Utah families lose out.”
He worries it would “short circuit” important policy issues like housing affordability, air quality and water if there’s not a Democrat on the ballot in November.
“Now, (the race is) very negative between Evan and Mike Lee,” Weston said, “and if there’s not a Democrat on the ballot I believe it will get even more negative, and a lot of those issues will be pushed aside.”
Weston said he and his team have been making “a lot of calls” to delegates, and he trusts them to make the right choice. The real issue they have to “reckon with,” he said, is whether to decide for themselves to end Democrats’ Senate bid in the auditorium at Cottonwood High School on Saturday-- or let voters decide.
“I do think this is verging on being dismissive toward voters,” Weston said. “If we really are a party that prides ourselves on being focused on democracy and what an election means, it’s about voters in my mind.”
Weston said it’s far too soon for Democrats to throw in the towel. The race “really starts” on June 29, the day after the GOP primary. Leading up to November, Weston said he’s willing to sit down and have a private conversation with Lee’s GOP challengers, Becky Edwards and Ally Isom, as well as McMullin, in coming months “because we need to start thinking through what each of us probably need to do along the way.”
“But by stopping the process on April 23 for Democrats, I think it’s a real disservice to voters,” he said.
After the Utah Legislature approved “egregious” gerrymandered maps in its redistricting process early this year, Weston said he’s been in a battle against “apathy” among Utah Democrats.
“I’m trying to say, Democrats, let’s not crawl into a corner and give up,” he said.
Weston said he’s not taking the effort to squeeze him out of the race personally. Having served in Iraq and Afghanistan in war zones for the U.S. State Department, he said he’s endured much worse.
“At least there, though, the bullets are coming from the front and not necessarily from behind,” he said.
Weston said he’s more concerned about the future of the Utah Democratic Party and if abandoning the party’s effort for the Senate in 2022 could have a far-reaching impact.
“The reckoning inside the Utah Democratic Party is happening, and it wouldn’t be happening if no one had filed (to run),” he said. “But I think we’ll come out of this. I do believe the Utah Democratic Party is going to come out of this OK.”
Whatever happens, Weston said the party should focus on a “10-year rebuilding effort” focused on balancing Utah’s “political marketplace” in a healthy way.
“It’s not healthy,” Weston said, adding there are “a lot of communities” in our state that have a different view of the “Utah way” mantra. “They’re like, ‘The Utah way is the steamroll.’ And that’s not right.”
The final vote was McMullin 782 to Weston 594. Which will be the next state Democratic parties to throw in the towel? Wyoming? Mississippi? How long before Ohio and Florida do? Has McMullin even said which party he'll caucus with if he's elected? this just fits in so well with how the Democratic establishment thinks it has to battle the Republicans-- the only way it knows: lesser of two evils-- we may be terrible but they're so much worse.