The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.
On the national front, the political observers are straining to analyze “Mitt’s Meltdown” in a misdirected campaign. In Utah, however, the missteps are coming from Democrats who are waging a silly fight in a race they cannot win.
Let’s face it Й Orrin Hatch will win a seventh term. Utah Democrats haven’t won a statewide race since gasoline was $1.05 per gallon; the Democratic heyday was when women saved Green Stamps and bough mascara at Woolworth’s. To make it worse, Romney’s top-of-the-ticket presence has Republicans salivating over their 2012 legislative campaigns.
In nominating former Utah Senate minority leader Scott Howell, the Democrats placed substance over style. Howell is a likeable guy, active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, respected by his former Republican colleagues, a get-along pal rather than a stern ideologue.
In a swing state, Howell would be a great candidate. In Utah, especially with Mitt at the top of the ticket, he’s roadkill for the Republican convoy.
In the Cyclops world, if you are going to lose, do it with dignity and resolve. Contrast your vision of the country with that of your opponent. Hatch’s abrupt turn-to-the-right bothers a handful of Republican voters, and Howell could certainly claim that 36 years in office was not the definition of a citizen representative.
But instead, Howell went rogue. Last week, he questioned Sen. Hatch’s fitness for office, challenging him to release medical records, even noting the possibility that Hatch could collapse in the next month and “could die before his (next) term is through.”
Hatch’s campaign manager, Dave Hansen, was appalled, issuing a statement that Howell was acting more like a candidate for sophomore class president than a serious U.S. Senate candidate. Even the Salt Lake Tribune editorialized that Sen. Hatch “at 78 is a vigorous man.”
What were the Democrats thinking? The most active voters are senior citizens who, while admitting that they are not quite as sharp as they were in their fifties, are not eager to be put out to pasture simply because they’ve seen their share of birthday cakes. To younger voters, the Howell charge sounds mean-spirited. Being in office too long is one thing; asking someone to prove they aren’t dim-witted is quite another.
Hansen’s defense of Hatch is reasonable.
“Sen. Hatch has been a public figure for many years. People see him every day either in Utah or Washington, D.C., or elsewhere Й This past year, he has been all over this state. Voters have had a chance to talk with him and be with him.”
Giving Howell’s lack of traction in the campaign, his medical records request and die-in-office chant was the equivalent of a “Hail Mary” football pass. Ask a football fan how often those things work out.