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There is a lot of talk and speculation about the re-districting plan for Utah in the effort to add a seat to both D.C. and Utah.

Many, if not most Utah Democrats are unhappy with the present plan and grumbling about it pretty loudly.  After the jump I'll explain why I think this plan is the best thing the Democrats could hope for.

Support Pete Ashdown, part of Utah's great future"

The plan proposed by Governor Huntsman to add a fourth district to Utah gives Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson a significant portion of Salt Lake County and adjacent Morgan and Weber Counties, a very liberal region, Dividing the rest of the state along county lines, leaving majority conservative districts to the North, East and West.

Democrats are up in arms over this "packing" of all the liberals into one district, claiming it will supress the party statewide.  I find this a bit like standing in an ocean and saying "don't spill any water, you will get your feet wet!".  The democrats are already supressed statewide.  Many are afraid to put up Democratic Signs and bumperstickers due to fears of "retaliation" from neighbors, co-workers and employers.

Congressman Matheson is a phenomenally popular office holder, the most popular in the state's Congressional delegation, but what he is not is a party builder.  That is part of what has made him popular (with both R's and D's) and allowed him to hold his seat, I mean him no disrespect and understand his actions in this regard.  Given the districts that were drawn for him, and the state of the Democratic Party in Utah, he has acted in the proper defense of one Democratic seat for the state.

As such, Matheson runs his own races, mostly independent of the State Party (which thanks to the 50SS has 4 brutally overworked staffers), and as such, does not have much of a "coattail" or "party building" effect for other Dems statewide or within his districts (shifting) boundries.  If you moved his district to a mostly Democratic/Liberal area, yes he would likely face a challenge from the Left, but more importantly, he, or whoever takes the seat, would be provided an opportunity to build the party.

Starting from the already liberal district, better data could be compiled for donors, volunteers, etc, a vocal majority could be more visible and express their pride in affiliation with the Democratic party.  Presently, many of these liberals are divided into the 3 districts, having their votes diluted in giant pools of Republican voters in two fo the districts, as such, many of them are disenchanted and less likely to vote in statewide and off-year elections.  

From this one district, a strong organization could be built, and then have its efforts and energy channeled into shifting the balance in another district, likely to be the proposed district 4, which includes Washington County and the rest of the South West corner, an area of great growth, including many "move-ins" who are often moderate or liberal.  

This is an area a Democrat could capture, it includes several counties I believe we (the Ashdown campaign) will win outright this November, and there are some good strong Democrats down there running in State Assembly and State Senate races that would make viable candidates for the U.S. House in the near future.

Of course all this is just wasted bits if the naysayers are right in suggesting this plan is a pipe dream from the start and will never actually happen...I am optimistic it will happen, the question is just when it will happen and what the finer details are.

As for the way the lines are drawn? I am in favor of lines drawn as these are, mostly on county boundries, keeping communities together, that is how districts should be drawn.  I would rather see districts drawn with no regard to party affiliation, only regard for contiguous communities, but this step is needed, and beneficial to the Democratic party in Utah.

Just don't get too giddy about it, then the Republicans might figure out this is a bad idea for them.  In fact, keep grumbling a little bit, maybe even fume here and there just so it gets passed sooner rather than later. The tie-in to the campaign I am working in is very simple, make the party stronger and statewide races become much more competitive.

Originally posted to mp on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 09:29 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well (0+ / 0-)

    By "liberal" I think you mean less conservative by most other standards, right? For a "liberal" district in UT is probably like a conservative district in CA. For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

    by jiacinto on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 09:47:19 AM PDT

    •  Not at all. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ballerina X

      Remember, people like Rocky Anderson live in this area of the state, and Salt Lake City and Park City are no less liberal than their counterparts in CA or MA.

      "Another terrorism speech by the president is sort of like reruns of Seinfeld. It's on every night and we've memorized most of the lines." --Craig Crawford

      by UTLiberal on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 10:02:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ! (0+ / 0-)

      There are a lot of conservative districts in California. In fact, name one moderate California Republican in Congress.

      •  MA? (0+ / 0-)

        California having 53 districts where something like 20 are safe Republican and 30 are safe democratic is probably not a good example, Massachusetts might work though.

        California has the distinction of being the only state where the two parties worked together to in a fashion to make ALL the seats as safe as possible.  It may be the only thing that Republcians and Democrats have gotten together on in the last 20 years of California Politics.

  •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ballerina X

    the status quo is we have no seat in D.C. and one very shaky district (held, as you said, on the strength of Matheson personally) out of three in Utah.  None of the current 3 Utah districts is naturally a Dem seat; the GOP redistricters did that intentionally in hopes of getting rid of Matheson (and it almost worked--he got 51% in 2002).

    Under the proposed plan, the Dems get a gimme seat in D.C. and a strong natural seat in Utah, with the GOP having 3 fairly solid other seats in Utah.

    In other words, we go from a 1-2 situation, which likely goes to 0-3 when Matheson decides he doesn't want to be a Congressman anymore, to a solid, lasting 2-3--with a possible long-term opportunity for a 3-2, as you said.

    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire -8.25, -6.51

    by Superribbie on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 09:48:00 AM PDT

  •  Ashdown (0+ / 0-)

    excellent points ! I'm glad to see a growing presence for Pete here on Dkos He needs more national grass/net roots attention in this race. Especially since the Nat. Dem party folks aren't offering full support.Thanks, keep up the good work !

    secret Agent Fairy Princess,twirlng about performing acts of graceful espionage

    by ballerina X on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 09:52:40 AM PDT

  •  I agree with you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ballerina X

    That Matheson is no party builder.  I would hope the concentration of progressive votes into one district would allow a successful chalenge from the left.  After the lines were redrawn the last time the Democratic vote in the state took a big hit and have really had to work to keep a very moderate Dem in office.  If not for the popularity of his family in this state I doubt he would have been re-elected.

    "Another terrorism speech by the president is sort of like reruns of Seinfeld. It's on every night and we've memorized most of the lines." --Craig Crawford

    by UTLiberal on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 10:06:07 AM PDT

  •  Question (0+ / 0-)

    Doesn't this plan give Utah and the GOP an extra vote in the Electoral College?  Utah, as a state, gets one EC vote for every member of Congress.  DC is locked in by the Constitution at 3 votes.

    How is this not bad for us?

    We hold these truths to be self-evident . . .

    by LeftCoastTimm on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 05:43:41 PM PDT

    •  Answers: (0+ / 0-)

      a) Population will control how many Congressional seats Utah has, it is in need of the additional seat whether it comes in this form or another.

      b) one vote in the EC is unlikely to be very significant, though if adding that one vote comes in the process of making the state (somewhat) more competitive, how is that a bad thing?  Currently the Republicans expend 0 dollars campaigning in Utah (actually they gain money unopposed) for the Presidency, making 1 of the seats true democratic and building the party there may force the Republicans to expend some $$ and time campaigning here every 4 years.

      I really haven't studied the EC impacts of such manuevers and if there are specific stipulations, but I will say that the Democratic Presidential hopefuls would be wise to put some effort into Utah.  It could be a bold statement that they are the real leader many of us have been looking for.  We (the Ashdown Campaign) invited some of the hopefuls to town, none have really bothered to respond.  Kerry won some counties in Utah, and had some decent fundraising as well, if one of them actually came to Utah, there is no telling what kind of rewards they would reap.

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