Sunday, January 31, 2010


Utah leads in Craiglist-powered effort to take down unwanted incumbents

by Larry Geller

Utah progressives had an idea that looks transportable to anywhere. Even to Hawaii. They conducted a job search on Craigslist to recruit a candidate to replace a congressional incumbent.

Here in Hawaii, House Speaker Calvin Say said he would not bring HB444, the civil unions bill, to a vote unless he had a veto-proof majority. There was no vote. The popular wisdom is that legislators are scared there might be voter retaliation during this year’s elections. So why risk losing office especially if the House could not muster enough votes to override Lingle’s expected veto?

Without a vote on record for civil unions, presumably there was a big sigh of relief at the State Capitol.

It’s not inconceivable that there could be retaliation for not passing the bill. The problem is, absent a vote, who should voters retaliate against?

The closest to an indication of legislators’ positions is their voting record from last year, which is on the Capitol website here.

An interesting new twist in incumbent replacement is being pioneered in Utah right now. Yesterday (January 30), the Salt Lake Tribune reported the results of a unique grassroots effort: Progressive professor tapped to take down Matheson (1/30/2010):

Angry, and anxious to engage "a new politics," these activists aren't monkeying around.

More than 100 riled-up residents turned the Salt Lake City Main Library auditorium into a grass-roots primary Saturday, selecting 54-year-old pathology professor John Weis as the "Citizens' Candidate" to unseat Blue Dog Rep. Jim Matheson.

These angry citizens developed a unique approach to their problem. They posted a recruiting ad on Craigslist. This is a snip from their website:

Utah Citizens' Candidate

The Citizens' Candidate is pleased to announce a grassroots effort to elect a new Congressperson for Utah's Second District. This is a citizen-led initiative that seeks a representative who is answerable to the people; the initiative is being introduced by a coalition comprised of citizens who have committed themselves to working for justice on climate change, healthcare, LGBT, labor, immigration, peace, and environmental issues.

The Citizens' Candidate initiative began with a Craigslist help-wanted ad for a "Courageous Congressperson." We have received several applications and will continue accepting applications until January 15th. A final candidate will be chosen through public interviews at the Salt Lake City Library on January 30th.

The project achieved national notice on Friday with a Democracy Now segment, “The Citizens’ Candidate”–Grassroots Effort Uses Craigslist to Find Candidate For Utah House Seat (1/29/2010). Click the link for video, audio or a transcript.

This is really a grass-roots initiative that was an experiment. It has been an experiment the whole way through. It grew out of the realization over 2009 that Jim Matheson and a lot of the Blue dog Democrats were really doing more harm than good, that they were causing more of a problem with our system than the Republicans, actually, and that we needed to replace them

Here’s the ad:

Courageous Congressperson (District 2)

Date: 2009-12-18, 4:43PM MST
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

Progressive Congressional Representative wanted to represent the people of Utah's 2nd district in the United States House of Representatives. Must have solid moral values and a resistance to selling out to corporate interests. Eligible candidate should have a strong commitment to defending fundamental human rights over corporate profits. 

Responsibilities include: 
-Stopping catastrophic climate change 
-Giving all Americans access to healthcare 
-Protecting and reinstating the rights of workers and unions 
-Granting equal rights to LGBT people 
-Defending the rights of immigrants to basic human dignity and a US foreign policy that allows them to make a living in their home country 
-Ending imperialistic wars of aggression 

Travel is required between Washington, DC and Utah. Employee is expected to meet with supervisors (Utah voters) regularly and publicly. This is a salaried position with a two year contract beginning January, 2011. Selection process will occur over most of 2010. 

-Be at least 25 years old 
-Be a US citizen for at least 7 years 
-Be a resident of Utah 
-Commitment to transparency 
-Honesty, integrity, courage 

Benefits include: 
*$174,000 per year 
*travel expenses 
*much better healthcare than most Americans 
*Nice office in the heart of Washington, DC 

Note: This position must be filled. Current employee must be removed as soon as possible. 

The people of Utah are an equal opportunity employer. 

  • Location: District 2
  • Compensation: $174,000 per year
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.
PostingID: 1516466529


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