"For a song I was bought / Now I lie when I talk." -- Bright Eyes, "False Advertising" ---
Peter Corroon's campaign has spent seven months throwing all sorts of things at Gov. Gary Herbert, trying to find an issue that can stick. Most of the issues have not developed any sort of lengthy life, generally because Corroon seems to be trying to out-wonk Herbert and prove he would make a better executive. I think that, more than anything, Corroon's efforts have made him a serious candidate in the eyes of donors and helped him raise a boatload of money (to Herbert's freighter).
Still, Corron's strategy is the political equivalent to "small ball" in baseball. Instead of trying to outgun the other team, players run out every ground ball, try to turn singles into doubles as often as possible, steal like mad, bunt and so forth. Often, the underdog will find themselves close and needing only one error. Corroon has done this (while Sam Granato has not, as of yet), and he may actually have stumbled into a nice Herbert error.
A prediction: Herbert "forgetting" to sign up for the Clear the Air challenge is going to dog him for the rest of the campaign. Whether or not it's a legitimate issue isn't important, because it's very easy for people to wrap their heads around. After all, Herbert has already expressed doubts about global warming, which to many people equals not believing that smog is bad. Now, he's not signing up for a stupid, little challenge to clean the air. The simple take-away for many people, especially coveted moderates along the Wasatch Front, is that Herbert is disconnected and doesn't care.
Now, the question is, will Corroon take advantage? So far, the campaign has played nice, and has told me they will continue to play nice. If I were running the campaign, however, I would roll out every possible shot of Corroon on a bike (even if he looks as dorky as Mayor Ralph) and contrast it with the Herbert motorcade. I would make clean air the number one issue. And, I would make damn sure that everyone got the message that Herbert is a disconnected politician. (For the record, I am not saying that these are all accurate portrayals of Herbert, but they are certainly fair attacks in a campaign).
On the flip side, if I'm Herbert's campaign, I first hope this blows over. Second, I have Herbert do the Clear the Air challenge starting now, and track his exceptional performance on the campaign website. Third, I work really hard to find a different issue to define the campaign.
I kinda had this thought yesterday, but this story came out after I had drafted my update. Work gets in the way, eh? Well, I had it reinforced today by posts from devoted City Weekly reader Deb Henry (among other things). She had a few tweets about Herbert's failure, include this and this and this. Also, on her Facebook profile, she wrote:
Herbert's cold-shoulder to the Clear the Air Challenge - Utah is incorrigible and selfish. I don't care if he likes clean air or not, that's not the point. He's the Governor and he needs to support hard work by people who make our state a better place. He just gave me another non-partisan reason to be committed to Corroon for Governor.
I don't know Henry's political leanings, though I'm pretty sure she's not a "swing" voter, but pretty well-entrenched in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. But her sentiment, I think, will be echoed among voters who are on the fence. If handled right by Corroon, this race will become a whole lot tighter sooner rather than later.
Now, other news:
* Last night's primaries around the country should give Democrats some hope in the fall, but they still are shaking. Holly Richardson, aka Holly on the Hill, broke down the primaries in her usual strong fashion (Coloradohere, other states here. There was plenty of national analysis, as well. I stuck to my Google Reader feeds, especially WaPo's The Fix and Salon's War Room. Salon also wrote about how Tea Party candidatescontinue to help Democratic chances in the fall (usual disclosure: I sometimes write for Salon).
* Speaking of foul air, Davis County health officials want to prevent hookah bars because of the second-hand smoke problems. They're okay with hookahs in homes, however. Yeah ... I'm sure that most people with hookahs on their shelves are only tobacco.
* The air may be cleaner in the Uinta Mountains, but the water has been fouled by an ass-ugly but apparently tasty fish. No limit fishing for burbots has been authorized. Bubba, get the dynamite!
* Mayor Ralph can't get a break. He proudly unveils his "green" police headquarters that he describes as "not a fortress." Glen Warchol then unleashes a blog post with about a dozen pictures of similar complexes that are, indeed, fortresses.
* The Tribune political blog points out that the Republican National Congressional Committee is targeting Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, for taking "tainted money" from Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. Not surprisingly, they don't link to the blog I wrote on July 27, because those jerk-offs at the largest corporate media outlet never link to stories in the alternative press.
* Obama saves 1,800 teacher jobs in Utah. Stupid feds.
* Finally, Seth Godin, who is a genius, makes a great argument for real-time results during elections: It will boost participation as people see what's happening. And he does it far better in almost as many words as it took me to describe what he wrote. Did I mention genius?