I live in Murray, a fine city with everything I need. I’m attracted to the nearby clubs and restaurants and easy freeway access. I like Murray’s central location, nice parks and great schools, including Parkside Elementary where a fellow Bingham High School graduate, Brent Bateman, makes a fantastic principal. Gene Davis and Judy Ann Buffmire, both Democrats, represent me in the Utah Senate and House—talk about good fortune! Murray has its own cops, water and electricity, not to mention a solid commercial tax base and a good mayor.
The only thing Murray doesn’t have much of is horses.
So I was caught off guard the other night when I saw a TV commercial for John Swallow, candidate for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Murray. In that commercial, Swallow dressed as what is now a Utah congressional race cliché—the neo-Marlboro Man. He’s good looking too—for a Republican—and if he just had a decent belt buckle and a felt Stetson, I’d buy a pack of ciggies on the spot. Impressively, though, Mr. Swallow demonstrates in that commercial a crucial, election-year skill that is dear to me and my fellow Murray Smelterites: horse-mounting.
Jim Matheson is going to get my vote, though. Not that he’s done a whiz-bang job. I cringe when I hear him invoke the name George W. Bush. But Matheson has done nothing to warrant his ouster after just one term. He’s been a fair and able representative for Utah, and there’s nothing cliché about his own résumé. He’s a man who is part of Utah’s urban cloth, a cloth knitted firmly with his own, deep Southern Utah roots. He’s a Democrat and a Mormon—the latter a fact never revealed for political expediency (hello, Chris Cannon), just simple part and parcel of who he is.
I’ve met his mother and his late father. Nice folks. I’ve never met Jim Matheson, but most assuredly, I will support him, if for no other reason than the Republicans tried to screw him out of his seat via some of the most heinous district gerrymandering ever. Not only are Matheson and Swallow vying for votes in Murray, the 2nd District also includes Monticello, Maeser, Manila and Mt. Carmel—over half the land mass of Utah. Besides the horse-mounting, I can’t think of much that’s common to me and the citizens of LaVerkin. Swallow, in the best git-up-and-go fashion, tries to make that connection by making a plea for public access on public lands. I can Dutch oven cook with the best of them, so he almost had me.
Just before mounting his horse, Swallow says about public land that “those who lock it up for the privileged few, just don’t understand Utah.” For a right-winger, his statement matches pretty much what the ACLU has been saying about our formerly public Main Street. From here, I can’t much tell the difference from a belching bulldozer and a bellicose Baptist. Once again, the horse’s head meets the horse’s ass right in the middle.
I guess it all comes down to how you define “privileged few.” For my money, that means betting on the right horse.
Matheson is that horse.