I went to the Saturday debate between the 4 candidates vying for Chris Cannon's seat in Congress and it was extremely enlightening. First up I have to thank Ivan Keller for putting it together. That's one thing that I'd love my Leg District to do, but that we haven't (the blame, of course, goes to me as the chair). Now on to my impressions of each of the candidates:
Joe Ferguson. He's the candidate of choice for the John Birch Society and he's a staunch opponent of the North American Union. Of course the NAU is a conspiracy theory project at this point and just because we ratified NAFTA and CAFTA doesn't mean we're all for the NAU (although Joseph Smith proposed it back in the 1840s, so why is it such a bugaboo anyway for Mormons?). Nevertheless, he only had one real opinion - no NAU and no steps towards it.
Jason Chaffetz. Is there a bigger jerk in the race? During the 2 hour debate he managed to toss Orrin Hatch, David Leavitt, Chris Cannon, George W Bush, and his old boss Jon Huntsman under the bus. All of this so he could be seen as the guy who gets things done and says what needs to be said. If you criticize Huntsman's position on global warming, you criticize your policies. If you manage to marginalize yourself from every single member of Congress before you even get to the House, chances are that you will be very ineffective. For someone who touts being a member of Reagan 21 (in fact, he mentioned that he mentioned it before anyone else did, but that was mainly because he was the first one who had the question asked to him), he certainly doesn't belong. What was it that was Reagan's 11th Commandment? "Don't criticize fellow Republicans." That's something Chaffetz could learn from. Another politician he could learn from is Al Gore. Chaffetz managed to pull a Gore and roll his eyes, tut-tut, and shake his head at every opportunity when Chris Cannon was speaking. That comes across as condescending, and if memory serves me correctly, when Gore did it in 2000 against George W Bush it didn't turn out too well for him either. Oh, and one other thing. His "God bless you and God bless the United States of America" line - I hate it. I HATE it. Words can't describe how much that bugs me. If he was the President and this was the State of the Union, that'd be fine. I don't recall any candidate for office, sitting or otherwise, ending his debate performance and his standard stump speech with it. It's ridiculous. Instead of being statesmanlike or whatever he's aiming for, it comes across just like the rest of his performance. Condescending, ill-advised, and patronizing. The sooner we rid ourselves of him the better. One thing I will say - if by some wild stretch of the imagination he is our candidate, I would look very closely at either throwing my vote away or voting for the Democrat. I will not vote for Jason Chaffetz.
David Leavitt. I thought Leavitt gave the best performance in the debate. He was articulate, he was statesmanlike, he made good points, and I thought he aquitted himself quite well.
Chris Cannon. Poor Chris. He's a great guy, but he is not at his best in a forum like this. He's not great at providing a concise, direct answer to a question and it makes him look like a chump. He'll obfuscate and hem and haw on things. At the same time he did make some nice little points like why is Jason Chaffetz running against Cannon in the 3rd District when he lives in the 2nd District and could go against Jim Matheson (answer: because he's a calculating sucker who thinks Cannon is the most vulnerable). There's also his record, which is pretty solid as well.
At the end of the debate, I was leaning more Leavitt, but right now I'm a little bit more in the Cannon camp. The one thing it did serve to do is eliminate Jason Chaffetz from serious consideration.