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:
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: