Hello, everyone! Welcome to the Kos campaign diary for the Democratic candidate for Governor of the great state of Utah, (Ret.) Gen. Peter Stryker Cooke, and his running mate for Lt. Governor, Vince Rampton. We here at the Cooke for Governor team are excited to introduce ourselves and our candidates to the Daily Kos and the Netroots at large. In the coming weeks, we look forward to developing a dialogue and partnership with the community and getting into some detail on how we plan to win the race.
But before we go any further, we know what you're probably thinking...
...You're probably thinking that in an election cycle featuring favorite-son Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket, there's simply no fight to be had in the state of Utah. After all, Romney dominated the state primary with 93 percent of the Republican vote, and Five Thirty Eight currently has Mitt Romney as the projected winner of Utah's electoral votes by a whopping 43.2 points (70.6 to 27.4). It's understandable to presume that the "Mitt-mentum" will filter down to the rest of the GOP ticket on the Utah ballot this year.
Even here on the Daily Kos, that sense of predestined defeat is palpable. A few months ago, Daily Kos' own David Nir put Utah's gubernatorial race into the "Safe R" category once Republican Governor Gary Herbert made it out of the state convention without a primary challenge. "It's a shame Utah is so blood-red," Nir also wrote, "because Democrats have actually put together what seems like an interesting gubernatorial ticket [...] to call this race an uphill battle would be an understatement, but at least Team Blue is showing up to fight."
Well, we're here to tell you that not only are we showing up to fight, the fight is not the foregone conclusion that you think.
In the coming weeks, we're going to be getting into the specifics of why that is, and we'll discuss what we call the 4 Reasons why we can win. Here's a short taste of the four:
Reason 1: our Candidates. Neither Peter nor Vince are career politicians, but they are both life-long Utah Democrats with leadership experience. Peter comes from 39 years of award-winning military service in the Army Reserves, rising to the rank of Major General, while Vince is a successful trial lawyer and the son of the most popular governor in Utah history, the late Democrat Cal Rampton. The more people know about Peter and Vince, the more they like.
Reason 2: our Policies. Two of the most important issues Utah voters value are education and the environment. Utah's education is ranked 42nd in the nation and dead last in per-pupil-spending, with some of the worst air pollution in the country that on a bad day rivals that of urban China. Peter aims to fix these problems with a better education budget and development of renewable energy such as wind and solar. Meanwhile, Gov. Herbert has no lasting plans on improving Utah's education, and he wants to sell as much of Utah as he can to energy companies, even if it means engaging in unconstitutional landgrabs.
Reason 3: our Opponent. In addition to his aforementioned policies, our internal polling has shown that people in Utah simply do not think Gov. Herbert has the executive leadership qualities that Utah tends to value in a governor. He's too timid to corral the radical GOP state legislature (which much of the state despises), and his administration is rife with scandal, waste and buck-passing. The more people know about Gov. Herbert, the less they like.
Reason 4: our Race. Believe it or not, the plurality of voters in Utah are independents ("unaffliated") and the Mormon Church has been adamant about shedding their Republican reputation and increasing participation in both parties. Further, caucus turnout this year broke records even for the Democrats, so there's no shortage of energy for both parties. However, turnout in Utah is some of the lowest in the country. Simply, the only thing preventing Utah from shedding its "blood-red" reputation is greater turnout, and a gentle push that yes, it's ok to vote Democrat.
These are only tastes of what we know about all of these Reasons. When you put them all together, the path to victory in this Romney-election cycle becomes possible.
The idea of turning Utah "purple" with Romney on the ticket is certainly an exciting possibility, but the truth is, Kos community, we can't do this by ourselves. Peter and Vince need your help. Forces such as ALEC and FreedomWorks are maintaining a robust presence here because they understand that Utah is not a state that can be presumed to be "red" forever. They're working to keep things the way they are, and they hope no one notices. Well, we noticed, and soon you will too!
Of course, there are many electoral battles in this country this year, from top to bottom, that require the attention of Daily Kos and liberal Democrats across the country, and the Utah gubernatorial race is but one of them. Once we've gotten into the specifics of our plan, you can make up your own minds if you want to help us in this fight.
But we humbly ask that you keep an open mind about this race. We here at the Cooke/Rampton campaign subscribe to the 50 State Strategy that all 50 states are worth fighting for. Well, that includes the "50th" state as well...Utah!
We leave you with this YouTube message from General Peter S. Cooke himself.
Thank you Kos community! Please follow this diary closely, recommend it, and feel free to leave comments with your feedback!
- Cooke staff