No-Vote Elections?

Yes, sometimes the New York Times has something interesting. In this case, though, it’s a vitally important thing happening in Utah that they decided to bury at the very bottom of their story on all the local elections going on across the country:


In dozens of communities in Utah, the question was whether to have an election at all. A new state law this year, aimed saving money for local governments, allows local authorities for the first time to forgo voting if the results would have no material effect; as of Monday, 45 towns and cities had notified the state that they were taking up the offer.

A no-vote election is available to a community only if every office on its ballot is uncontested — not uncommon in small towns where recruiting candidates is tough — and if there are no ballot propositions. The 45 participants this year saved an estimated $270,000, said the state’s director of elections, Mark J. Thomas.

On the face of it, I understand the reasoning. All the offices are uncontested, there’s no referendum for the public to vote on, and nothing anyone does will actually change the makeup of the local government, so why spend money? The pragmatic argument for this is obvious.

But America was never about pragmatism. If America was pragmatic, it would never have started the American Revolution, or fought to keep the Confederacy within the Union. It would have never gone to the Moon, or decided that NASCAR made any sense. No, even today, in these “dark times,” America has been one of idealism, not pragmatism.

Huntsman compares his jobs record to Romney’s in new ad

You have to hand it to Jon Huntsman, he’s averaging barely over 1% in national polls in his quest for the Republican nomination for president; but he just keeps on truckin’. His team put out a new ad yesterday contrasting his record on jobs to that of Mitt Romney (although he was never named, but video of a baseball glove or a mitt is shown), whose state, Massachusetts, was 47th in the nation during the same time:

UT Senate: Chaffetz will not run against Hatch

Count me among the people that are disappointed that Rep. Jason Chaffetz will not challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch in the Republican primary next year:

In bowing out of a U.S. Senate clash with Orrin Hatch on Monday, Jason Chaffetz avoided what he said would be a “multimillion-dollar bloodbath,” but predicts Hatch is not in the clear.

“I think he’s vulnerable,” Chaffetz said. “He’s got a major task ahead of him in convincing Utahns he’s still the right guy for that job. I think he’s got a serious threat of [Democratic Rep.] Jim Matheson running against him, a serious campaign, and another insurgent campaign on the Republican side.”

Chaffetz ended months of speculation Monday, announcing that he would pass on a Senate bid and instead seek re-election to his House seat.

“If I were to run an interparty battle it would be a multimillion-dollar bloodbath,” Chaffetz said Monday. “I don’t think that’s necessarily in my best interests. I don’t think it’s in the best interest of our party, the nation or our state.”

It looked likely that Chaffetz was going to challenge Hatch. He talked like a candidate and received nudges from grassroots activists and national groups, including the Club for Growth. In fact, poll commissioned by the Club for Growth indicated that Chaffetz would be off to a solid start.

Sean Hannity endorses a big government Republican

With a recent poll showing a tight race in his bid for re-election against Rep. Jason Chaffetz in a likely primary match up, Sen. Orrin Hatch has scored an endorsement from Sean Hannity, the prominent conservative talk show host:

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has won a high-profile re-election endorsement that will surely help him with Tea Party voters in his state: Fox News commentator Sean Hannity on Tuesday endorsed the Republican Senator on his radio show.

“I’m not sure if Clarence Thomas would be on the bench today but for you,” Hannity said, according to audio released by the Hatch campaign.

“I don’t think guys like John Roberts and Sam Alito would be there either,” he continued. “All the times you have been fighting for these Balanced Budgets over the years … what you’ve done for the Supreme Court which is impacting this country literally now for generations and decades … is why I’ve endorsed you for your race in the Senate.”

Mark Levin also endorsed Hatch backed in June.

Mike Lee on the debt ceiling deal

See Video

UT Senate: Chaffetz leads Hatch

In a defense against criticism against his fiscal record, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch recently claimed in a interview on Fox News that he is “one of the top conservatives in the history of this country.” The Club for Growth, a group that has not hid their contempt for Hatch, noted that his record has several negatives, including voting for the TARP bailouts, expansion of Medicare and No Child Left Behind.

While Hatch has declared that he will not share the same fate as his former collegue, Bob Bennett, a new survey from Public Policy Polling of a likely primary matchup with Rep. Jason Chaffetz shows that Utah Republicans may do just that.

Utah GOP Senate Primary

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (i): 43%
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz: 47%
  • Not sure: 10%

Interestingly, 60% of Utah Republicans approve of the job Hatch has done. However, only 45% of them believe he should the nominee against a generic “someone more conservative,” which received 44%. In case you’re wondering, Chaffetz is viewed favorably by 61% of Utah Republicans. Only 17% view him unfavorably.

Republicans in the state don’t necessarily hold a normal primary, at least not right off. To win without a primary, a candidate has to receive 60% of the vote during the state party’s convention. If no candidate receives 60%, the top two from the convention will go head-to-head statewide.

Anyway, if you’re Orrin Hatch, you certainly don’t like the outcome of this poll; but this will likely be a very messy primary.

Club for Growth launches ads in Indiana and Utah

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that both Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) could be the targets of primary challenges. The Club for Growth, which has targeted Republicans in Congress in the past and won, had hinted that they may go after Lugar. They were much more open in encouraging Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to run against Hatch. FreedomWorks, an influential group inside the tea party movement, also announced their “Retire Orrin Hatch” campaign.

The Club for Growth just bought ad time against the two in their home states as they push for them to back fiscally conservative policies, while at the same time noting that they have not great great records on spending.

Here is the ad running in Utah:

And the ad in Indiana:

Is Richard Mourdock the guy to beat Dick Lugar?

Two long-time big government Republican Senators may wind up with tough primary battles on their hands in 2012; Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN). Hatch’s race would be higher profile, given his likely opponent, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the ousting of Sen. Bob Bennett by Utah Republicans in 2010 and the fact that several conservative groups, including the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks are already making plans to to get involved.

But Lugar could be in as much trouble, since he has mostly thumbed his nose at tea party activists and continued to support positions outside the base of his party (Hatch has shifted to the right); most recently voting against an amendment to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to bailout foreign countries.

Richard Mourdock, who currently serves as Treasurer of Indiana, got a boost yesterday when Erick Erickson of RedState endorsed him in the primary:

I have, for a number of months, been asked what I thought of Indiana and the race for the Senate there. I have said all along that Richard Lugar’s time has passed and it is time for us to replace him with someone else.

I wanted to wait and see who would stand up to take the challenge of moving that seat to the right. One man has — Richard Mourdock.

Club for Growth on Jon Huntsman

Just like in 2008, the Club for Growth is putting together a series of white papers on candidates running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. They’ve already looked into the records of Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney. The next candidate under the microscope is Jon Huntsman, who formally announced his campaign on Tuesday.

Jon Huntsman is being pegged as 2012’s John McCain, a moderate-ish Republican that has crossover appeal. But he does have some conservative credentials, such as a generally solid record on taxes. The Club notes that Huntsman cut over $400 million in taxes from 2005 to 2007, though he did raise fees and proposed a cigarette taxes hike during his time as governor.

While the Club makes note of his “B” on fiscal policy Cato Institute in 2006 (a grade that is largely due to his record on taxes), they also point out that Huntsman received an “F” on spending in the same report:

Where Huntsman fails utterly is on spending. He has proposed an annual average
hike in spending of close to 6 percent in real per capita terms, which substantially outstrips personal income growth in Utah, and makes him one of the biggest spending governors in the nation.

Jon Huntsman enters the race for the GOP nomination

Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and Ambassador to China, formally announced yesterday that he will seek the Republican nomination for president:

Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) launched his presidential campaign Tuesday with the message that he is a post-partisan political leader.

Speaking with the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline as his backdrop in an effort to evoke Ronald Reagan, who held a campaign event from the same spot a generation ago, Huntsman said he would bring to the presidency a focus on substance and not on politics.

“We will conduct this campaign on the high road,” Huntsman said during his speech, calling modern political debate mostly “corrosive.”

The mounting debt and other problems facing the United States are “un-American,” he said. But he wouldn’t extend that line of attack against his former boss, President Obama.

Huntsman said his campaign against the president for whom he’d served as ambassador would boil down to policy, not attacks on patriotism.

“He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love,” Huntsman said. “But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better president, not who’s the better American.”

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