Above the Fold Ale: This past week, the Peter Corroon for Governor campaign made their first tepid stabs at attacking Gov. Gary Herbert.--- Most notably, they employed a well-worn political tactic, the trial balloon, to see how the public might react to charges of ethical malfeasance on Herbert's part.
Most Utah media took the bait, at least in some fashion, especially after the Corroon campaign had one-on-one sit-downs with multiple reporters, including me, on Friday. Links: Tribune. KSL-DN. Fox 13. Also, my "Big Lebowski" themed take from Friday.
During those meetings, Corroon read from a pretty repetitive script. He began by explaining that the timing of numerous contributions "raised questions" about whether companies who made campaign donations received preferential treatment from the state. Those are pretty serious allegations ... if they were actually allegations. But, as Corroon repeatedly said, he is not accusing Herbert of anything. He just thought Herbert should take steps, such as releasing memos and notes from those meetings, that proved he was not guilty of something that would necessitate accusation. (Programming note: Herbert and other state officials are having a Monday afternoon press conference to defend the governor.)
Simple, right? Well, yes, if you don't focus on the ethical charges against Herbert and the "I'm not saying what I'm saying" juggling act that Corroon is attempting. Instead, look at for what I consider the real meat, the shift to a negative tone by the Corroon campaign. A quick Politics 101 lesson: Friday is a great day for two things, dumping potentially damaging information about yourself (or your candidate) and giving new strategies a test run. In this case, it seems pretty obvious that Corroon is testing out the reaction to attacking Herbert's ethics by asking these "questions" on a Friday afternoon.
So, now that it's Monday, how did those stories play publicly? Let's look at it from two angles:
Media: The story got great play Friday, when KSL TV News & Deseret Virtual Pulp broke it. Friday morning, the Corroon campaign had their dalliances with reporters, and it got front page play in the Trib on Saturday while KSL-DVP ran a second-day story about Corroon "pledging" to not take donations from companies doing significant business with the state. It's a pledge he told me, as well, but it like most ethical proposals, it's riddled with loopholes. Individuals associated with said companies could still donate, for one. Also, what the hell is "significant?"
So yes, Corroon got good play. But will it continue? As a reporter, if I get called to an one-on-one meeting only to find out that everyone else also got the same meeting, I feel burned. But the KSL-DVN folks are in love with themselves for this story, so they may keep it alive. But will it matter? Let's look at ....
Public reaction: Anecdotally, these stories didn't generate a lot of heat. The comments on the KSL-DVN story and the Trib story were relatively light, and about half of them seemed to be calling Corroon out for taking a cheap shot at Herbert and not owning up to it. Also, ethics -- as I've written before -- is not an issue that actually gets the public that upset. Without actual criminal violations, it's simply too easy for the water to muddy and get everybody dirty, thereby confusing voters who generally consider politicians corrupt until proven innocent.
My prediction: The media coverage was enough to convince the Corroon camp that this issue has legs, especially with the Mormon Media Empire humping their leg. So I suspect they will go ahead with their planned advertising campaign, which is great because it means that this race will actually start to get interesting. But I don't know that the public will care.
Political Pocket Rockets: Sam Granato claims that Mike Lee is extreme. Truthers crash Tea Party rallies. Corroon gets a nice boost from a former legislator. A current legislator wants Medicaid recipients to earn their coverage.
3.2 Beer: A few Saratoga Springs residents rally against their justice court judge. City Weekly reporter Eric S. Peterson broke this story last week. Another non-drinker will decide how liquor is sold in this state. The ACLU opposes Draconian measures against alleged gang members.
Leisure Time Lager: Mexico is starting to look at legalizing marijuana. Matt Taibbi tees off anti-union blowhards at ESPN. Short men (under 5'8") have their own clothing line thanks to a man who got his start designing clothes for jockeys and actors (over 50 are under that threshold, apparently).
Josh's Java: A good sports weekend, overall. The S.F. Giants are tied for first place. However, one fan, Randy Moss (based on his hat), thinks everyone hates him. My fantasy teams all did well. Finally, USU "dominated" in football while BYU lost.
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