Political punditry will never be the same if Claudia Wright is elected to Congress from Utah's sprawling second congressional district. The district encompasses the whole southern part of the state, the whole eastern part of the state and a nice chunk of Salt Lake City and its southern metro area, from Millcreek and Murray down to Sandy. Almost 60% of the district's population lives in the Salt Lake City area; the rest of the huge district is mostly beautiful park land. It's also Utah's relatively "progressive" district with a PVI of R +17-- which sounds pretty dismal until you look at the first CD (PVI of R +22) and the third district (PVI of R +26). McCain "only" won 57% of the vote in the 2nd (64% in the first and 67% in the 3rd). But the second has been sending a Democrat to the House since 2000-- sort of.
The congressman from the second is reactionary Blue Dog Jim Matheson, son of two-term Governor Scott Matheson, and he pretty much always votes with the Republicans on important issues. He first got elected by attacking Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore for his health-care reform proposals. Needless to say, Matheson was an eager aisle crosser when it came to the recent votes on health-care reform. And three weeks ago Democratic activists in his district -- despite a parachute jump in by wheeler/dealer Steny Hoyer-- were eager to deny Matheson the Democratic Party endorsement. They forced him into an open primary with today's Blue America endorsee, Claudia Wright.
Inside-the-Beltway pundits and political "pros" insist that Democrats only win in red areas like UT-02 by running on Republican talking points. Ignoring the outstanding campaigns run by working family champions -- from Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) to Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), each of whom ousted an entrenched Republican incumbent in a "red" district -- the conventional wisdom is that only corporate shills like Jim Matheson can win in places like Utah. We know conventional wisdom is wrong and ignores the reality of the district. And so does Claudia:
Mr. Matheson and the party wasn't prepared for the reception he got at the mass meetings we had last March. He had no idea how angry he made his constituents. He was booed and jeered... The party has misread its membership and misread the fact that we are witnessing a political realignment, not just here in Utah, but across the country. The alignment is shifting right to left and top to bottom. A Large number of delegates at our convention were actually moderate Republicans who are now more at home with our party than they are with the extremist right of the Republican Party. Grassroots candidates like myself agree with tea partiers in that we need to get corporate money and special interests out of politics so that our representatives are accountable to their constituents and only their constituents.
Claudia is running as a full on champion of working families and her campaign platform is about the issues that most concern real people, not the nonsense manufactured by Republican propaganda puppets like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity to persuade voters that hating each other is more important than electing people who will help protect them from powerful predatory special interests and the politicians (and media outlets) they own.
While the banking bailout may have been necessary, handing over billions of dollars of taxpayer money with no strings attached doesn't serve the interests of working families. We gave all this money to big banks so they could give enough credit to small businesses to jump-start employment but the banks used that money for their own purposes rather than what it was meant for. That's what I mean by "no-strings-attached;" it should have been a requirement that that money be used to loosen up credit for small businesses. There needs to be much more oversight of Wall Street than what is being proposed in the new legislation Congress is working on.
I'd like to ask you to consider two things now. Surf over to our comments section below to meet Claudia and also please consider making a contribution to her campaign through Blue America's ActBlue page. In fact everyone who donates to Claudia's campaign this weekend (offer ends Sunday at midnight, PT) will have their name entered in a contest to win an autographed copy of Al Franken's book The Truth AND an autographed copy of the Al Franken DVD God Spoke; the winner gets both.