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So as you know, I'm the guy obsessed with Utah politics. It's a weakness of mine, and it's mainly because I can relate with the cities, internal ideas, and demographics mentioned in Utah political news. After all, I live here. Why shouldn't I be concerned about where I live? And I've been a big supporter of the Utah Democratic Party since I started following politics.

But for a while, I've been disappointed in the weakness of the Utah Dems. I feel like they've alienated groups that they could've won, and haven't reached to organizations that could help. It also seems to me that they're too proud and obsessed with "progressive purity" to understand what they must do to win in Utah.

I think the Utah Democratic Party needs to be reformed and changed extensively, and I'll share my thoughts on how below the orange squiggle, but first, I'd like everyone else's thoughts on how the Utah Dems could be improved.

Alright, now that you've all shared your opinions on how to improve the Utah Democratic Party, here's my suggestions.

1) Stop the ridiculous "more progressive than thou" game. I know Utah Dems feel like we should be clearly different from the Utah GOP, and that we should hold fast to, but it's getting to the point that we're turning on each other for one or two deviations. Yes, those may be major issues, but every state party has to deal with moderates/conservatives and progressives on multiple issues. We are damaging ourselves if we fight each other over individual issues. We need moderates, and I don't honestly care if some progressive groups can't stand them. And we can stay progressive in most of our ideals while acting moderate. Look at Ben McAdam's win in the Salt Lake County race. He only won because he appealed to moderates and had a moderate tone. Yet at the same time, he managed to stay almost perfectly progressive otherwise.

2) Stop looking down upon non-SLC (City and County) Dems. I live in Salt Lake County, but I also live in West Jordan, a conservative suburb city of Salt Lake City. I feel that the "core" of the Utah Dems look down upon us, and treat those living in Salt Lake City as "better" than those outside the city. Most of the major party events are in the city, most of the party activists are there, and I think that leads to an atmosphere of arrogance against those not inside the ultra-progressive bubble of SLC. Yes, I understand, most of the support the Utah Dems have comes from that city, but isolating themselves from the rest of the county (not including West Valley, Murray and Midvale of course), is actively harmful to any notion we might have of winning more of the county.

And that's not even including the rest of the state, especially winnable places. Like Weber County; the Utah Dems have not been very good with promoting Weber County Dems at all, despite holding the state convention there. They've basically ignored these areas, and that's quite harmful.

3) Don't purposefully alienate Mormons. The Utah Democratic Party does this way too much. Meeting at bars and similar actions hurts our standing with Mormons. While I realize that we're never going to be known as the "Mormon party" and that we need to appeal to non-Mormons, this is a no-brainer. We won't lose a single non-Mormon voter if we just stop alienating Mormons, and the LDS Dems Caucus is a good first step. But at the moment, it feels like Mormon voters (if not Mormon public officials) are "token" for Utah Dems, rather than a part of our coalition. Being a Mormon Democrat myself, I feel like the Utah Dems aren't taking the absolute need to get even just 10% more Mormon voters seriously. We could win a lot of elections here in Utah if we got more Mormons to vote for us.

4) Give more support to local candidates, and pick better-known ones, rather that "pure progressive" perennial candidate types. Looking specifically at my own State Senate and House districts, that's all who run here. I didn't even know who John Rendell (Dem state senate candidate in my district) was until I did a lot of digging. And he's one of the perennial types who should have a higher profile. Yes, I understand that in many districts, we honestly can't find any other candidates willing to run, but we should be able to at least have someone with a long history in the county and a 30-40% name recognition.

5) Find local groups to build coalitions with. Find anybody who's willing to work with you on an issue that the GOP won't do, and work with them. We need everyone who could possibly help with getting out the vote, and we need specific policies and issues to run on. Local groups can help with that.

6) Don't be so squeamish on targeting Republicans who have voted in ways you know that district will be angry about. Publicize votes against popular programs every time you can. We might not be able to win on scandals every time, but if we keep up a steady stream of revealing GOP scandals and the terrible voters of other Utah Republicans, we can at least compete for a few seats.

7) Get your candidates names out into the media any time you can. Part of the reason Utah Dems don't get elected in many parts of the state is because no one knows a thing about them. We need media coverage to be able to beat that lack of recognition.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There is potential in the burbs (9+ / 0-)

    That's where the new voters are, as well as in more rural Utah but hard to reach. and APT dwellers that are so often overlooked . That said, Today is a bad day for Utah Dem party press, seems some curious shaking up is going on so Imma gonna go call my precinct officers and arrange some district walks and door knocking and registering because HQ is likely dealing with distraction & reflection for a few days. ::curtseys and skips away::

    •  Interesting; would you elaborate? (4+ / 0-)

      Excellent comment, I'd like to ask you more about it.

      First, where would you say specifically we can improve?I mean, I mentioned Murray, Midvale, and West Valley as places where we're strong already, but what are some suburbs that we could improve in by the next election cycle? Looking at the precinct numbers, there seems to have been a few Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake, and West Valley neighborhoods we could do a lot better in, so beyond that, what else? And forgive my ignorance, but what's APT? Do you mean apartment?

      Second, what do you mean by "shaking up" in the Utah Dems? All the action I see is on the Republican side, with Swallow and etc. Something with Jim Dabakis, maybe?

      Finally, do you agree with my point about Utah Dems purposefully isolating themselves to Salt Lake City/County?

      Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

      by Gygaxian on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 03:51:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know The county party is really trying to reach (5+ / 0-)

        out to your area and further south and west. The new vice chair and second vice chair are laser focused on that. The State party is working hard on reaching areas all over the state. Weber county is rising fast with a whole new network of issues caucuses and Turner Bitton, a city council candidate has been instrumental in that along with others. Turner just got DFA backing by the way. Great guy !. There is tons going on in St George too. As a Legislative  chair, We need to utilize the network of precincts much much better and make sure officers pull the weight they volunteered for & are out and about actively engaging neighbors and even naming Block captains for GOTV efforts, Education etc... Do you know who your leg chair is ? precinct chair ? vice chair ? has any of them ever contacted you ? If you are not hooked into your neighborhood team, that reflects on them. Offer to have a block or yard party to introduce any local candidates. are you involved in any of the issues caucuses ? Messege me and I'll help !
        My district is likely the most Democratic in the state so I'm spoiled rotten. I also have little contact or experience with what much of the umm "World view" that you out there must encounter often. LOL In my dads neighborhood people fly their Gadsen Flag ff their front porch.
        Yes I mean Apartments :^)

        •  Regarding shake up (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gygaxian, sebastianguy99

          I don't have details and they are likely not my business if I did, but hopefully stuff will mellow out by Monday . . . that is all

        •  It really feels like they've abandoned West Jordan (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          General Goose

          I essentially got the online equivalent of a blank look when I asked about mayoral/city council candidates on their FB groups, and they basically said "We don't have any" in regards to other West Jordan candidates for political office.

          I have no idea who any of the chairs for my entire area are; I'm not sure there are any. They have never contacted me. Besides Matheson and his campaign hanging out in WJ once or twice, I have never seen any Dem candidate, even the state legislature candidates set foot in West Jordan. Like I mentioned in the diary itself, I didn't know who John Rendell was (I knew he was the Dem candidate for my district, but nothing else), but he had no campaign whatsoever. It's pathetic, frankly.

          Yours is one of the SLC districts then? Lucky, mine is Ken Ivory (he of the "sue the feds for public lands" and more recently "don't investigate John Swallow just yet" fame), and Wayne Harper (Empty Suits R Us). I don't tend to talk politics with anyone that I know, especially since despite my pragmatism, I'm more leftist than some of the Salt Lake County Dems! Everyone that I know is mostly very conservative.

          Regarding Weber County, that's excellent! I knew about Turner Bitton (oh lord Utah has the craziest names), but I didn't know the extent of how we were preparing in Weber County.

          Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

          by Gygaxian on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 06:23:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Love Utah! (8+ / 0-)

    Would love to have a retirement home there some day.

    Been to the state several times, and there's something magical there. Beautiful, beautiful deserve better than you've gotten politically.

    I'd also add one more thing for sure, and maybe one more for added measure.

    The for sure is, I'd also not be afraid to embrace FAMILY. That's a Dem problem all too often. Because we often support non-traditional family structures, we think of the other kind as antagonistic. Doesn't have to be. Can't we embrace the idea of FAMILY however that family is structured?

    Second one is a bit touchier -- I'd also from a policy perspective try to encourage our party to be more open about supporting FAITH, but faith as a PRIVATE rather than public matter. Doesn't need to matter WHAT the faith is, it deserves support and respect...without needing for it to be trashed by others. But faith should be a matter of PRIVATE concern, not public.

    Just must bunch of cents, hope they help. Maybe Utah can help lead the way for the national party!

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 03:42:24 PM PDT

  •  Great to see people fighting in other red states! (5+ / 0-)

    Glad too see people aren't just conceding when it would be so easy to do so.

    The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

    by sebastianguy99 on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 05:15:01 PM PDT

  •  How is the Utah Democratic Party structured? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's hard to come up with ideas on how to reform the Utah Democratic Party when most folks have no idea how their state and local political parties are structured.  Is there something about how it's organized that cause it to be so focused on Salt Lake City to the exclusion of other areas?  What kind of reforms could have an impact?

    Most state Democratic Parties offer extra votes or delegates to underrepresented minorities or key Democratic constituencies.  Could an approach like that help broaden the party's appeal in Utah?

    •  Well, for starters, Salt Lake City (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, General Goose

      is the donor base, the most multicultural (and thus Democratic) city in the state, it's got a decades long Democratic lean, many of the Utah Dem movers-and-shakers live there, and it's been loyal to the Democrats for a long time, beyond the lean. Also, besides Jim Matheson, the mayor of Salt Lake City is usually the most prominent Democrat in the state (even moreso than the Salt Lake County mayor). And many of the SLC suburbs are not as friendly to the ethnic groups and lifestyles that make up the Utah Democratic leadership.

      So it's a natural spot of power for the Utah Dems, but my concern is that they rely on and isolate themselves in SLC too much, and don't have the right infrastructure to win other areas.

      It's kind of like in a few other states (Illinois, maybe?) where the Democratic leadership always comes from one specific city, and they focus on that city to the detriment of other possibly Democratic areas.

      I would say some good reforms would be mandating that specific amounts party resources (money, volunteers, organizations, etc) go to different sections of Utah, possibly with a rotating level for each area. Also pushing for a Democratic party leader outside of Salt Lake County/City may help.

      Your extra vote idea may help, not sure how it would work though.

      Utah political writer Bryan Schott actually has a good article on Democratic weakness in Utah:

      Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

      by Gygaxian on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 06:48:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If this diary reflects the potential strength (4+ / 0-)

    of Utah's Democrats, I'm very impressed.

    My previous impression of Utah's political landscape was honestly rather bleak. Obviously Republicans have significant advantages, and I thought progressives in the state had almost given up.

    The truly striking thing about this post, though, is how much applies to all states (even one as "blue" as my home state--Oregon).

    In one sense I understand that folks in rural areas have different priorities than people in urban or suburban areas. Still we share much more common ground than we often recognize--no matter how far we must travel to the nearest "large" town.

    Playing the "more progressive than thou game" is an indulgence we can't afford. Anywhere. We can be proud liberals, while still voting for the most progressive candidate who can win. Otherwise we're making it too easy for the Republicans.

    I'll be watching for more ideas about outreach. Although in Oregon I expect we are perhaps more rigidly divided. Many may call themselves independents or "undecided," but most of them would have trouble recalling the last time they voted for a candidate which didn't belong to the party they "mostly" support. Do you have a sense that many Utahans could be swayed?

    It matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. Henry David Thoreau, in Civil Disobedience

    by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 06:24:42 PM PDT

    •  To be honest, it is a little bleak, though hopeful (2+ / 0-)

      As I've covered in my first Utah diary, there's really only about 8 state house seats and 3 state senate seats that we have any semblance of a chance at, and besides County Mayor and Matheson, we don't have a good shot at most offices (though there's a good progressive city council candidate up north in Ogden, Turner Bitton, great guy).

      And the problem isn't that we've given up, it's that we've turned into a circular firing squad if you deviate from specific issues, or if you're a Mormon (to be honest, the LDS Dem effort is tokenist at the moment). I'm as hopeful a progressive as anybody in Utah, and I see this "of course if we go progressive on every issue we'll win" and "Oh we lost? Must have been all those Matheson-style candidates" attitude as incredibly damaging. We can be pragmatic and liberal at the same time.

      I also believe that we can get better candidates than we currently have, in nearly every district of the state. We're just not looking for them, and the party rejects them if they're not progressive enough.

      As for whether Utahns can be swayed... Yeah, I think a lot of them can be. Maybe not a majority, but we can certainly do better than we are. We have the "independent=vote for our preferred party, but don't admit it" thing as well, but I'm sure that we can unite on some issues like we have in the recent past, like opposition to school vouchers, approval of sex ed in schools, strengthening of ethics laws, the list goes on. I would say that we could be a Georgia or a Montana in terms of partisan control if we really strengthened the party and got our message out.

      Speaking of message, we really need to have a single idea we can rally around; I mean, a lot of states have a legacy or current idea they can feel proud of, Wisconsin with the La Folletes and a history of progressivism, Montana with it's opposition to corporate power, New Mexico and it's support of disenfranchized ethnic groups, etc. Utah Dems don't have that. We've got LGBT issues sure, but with extreme social conservatism looming over the state, that's not an issue we want to focus on. We need a legacy or a theme to unite behind.

      Also, not to be pedantic, but it's "Utahns".

      Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

      by Gygaxian on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 07:12:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh here's another solution to reform UT Dem Party (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Get Pete Ashdown to become Utah State Democratic Chair.  He''s a strong progressive, pro-transparency, anti-B.S.

    •  Well, so is Jim Dabakis (0+ / 0-)

      And his tenure has been helpful in keeping what we have, but not so helpful in expanding the party.

      Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

      by Gygaxian on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 07:18:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  'Tiss the problem in a Mormon-founded state (0+ / 0-)

        Of course, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is Mormon and so is progressive Democratic Senator Tom Udall but sadly, they don't represent Utah and the state is more conservative than Nevada or New Mexico.

  •  How do Democrats do among non-white Mormons? (5+ / 0-)

    I know there is a large Pacific Islander population in Salt Lake City who moved to Utah in part due to LDS missionary activity.    What about other non-white Mormons?

    The lady was enchanted and said they ought to see. So they charged her with subversion and made her watch TV -Spirogyra

    by Taget on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 08:59:01 PM PDT

  •  Not sure, there's not that much info about it (3+ / 0-)

    But as I understand it, Hispanic Mormons are at least more Democratic than Republican, based on the precinct numbers I've seen in Latino-heavy cities and a few articles I've read.

    I'd assume that Pacific Islander Mormons are somewhat Democratic, but there's even less info on them. Black Mormons (what few there are) are definitely very Democratic though, not counting Mia Love.

    Asian-American Mormons in Utah are kind of like Cubans; the older, more established nationalities and communities seem to be GOP-leaning (the only three Asian-American legislators are Japanese and all Republicans) while the newer communities will probably be Democratic.

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 10:54:21 PM PDT

  •  Agh, I've been talking with the SLC progressives (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KingofSpades, Taget

    (their Salt Lake County Progressive Caucus FB group to be precise), and it's like pulling teeth. They don't see progressive purity tests as problems for the party, and they see the problem as "too many moderates". They keep getting defensive on my point that the Utah Dems have in-fighting one on or two issues (and they claim that it's only Marriage Equality and Federal Assistance/Medicare and food stamps that they're purity-minded about).

    I'd find another Utah Dem group, but theirs and the Utah-wide Progressive caucus is the only one with a FB discussion group rather than a normal page.

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 12:30:42 AM PDT

  •  Do nothing (0+ / 0-)

    Just what Republicans can do in Rhode Island.

  •  One thing I'd make sure to change (0+ / 0-)

    is the Utah Dem's relationship with Utah unions:

    While I understand the desire to keep the Utah GOP from punishing them further, that kind of betrayal is unacceptable. We need to both worker harder for Utah unions and at the same time make sure they endorse and GOTV for Democrats, not Republicans.

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 10:40:41 PM PDT

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