Tuesday, April 26, 2022


Walter Shapiro thinks this is a great idea:
At [their] convention, Utah Democrats opted by a 782-to-594 vote not to endorse their own candidate for the Senate seat held by embattled right-winger Mike Lee. Instead, Utah Democrats endorsed the independent candidacy of Evan McMullin, a former CIA agent who ran as a never-Trump Republican protest candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

At first glance, this looks like a gesture of abject surrender by a Democratic Party that last elected a Utah senator in 1970. But, in truth, this shrewd decision can serve as a model for a big-tent crusade to preserve democracy during this time of deep fissures in our republic.

... The underlying message in the Utah Democrats' endorsement of McMullin is the same one that has animated the Jan. 6 committee in the House: In the battle against the forces out to nullify free elections, you take your allies where you can find them without worrying about litmus tests.
Yes, but can McMullin win? In the most recent Deseret News poll, Lee outpolls McMullin and the Democrat combined:
The poll found 43% of voters say they most likely would support Lee in the general election, 19% favor independent candidate Evan McMullin and 11% would pick Democrat Kael Weston.
And if McMullin somehow does win, he says he won't even caucus with the Democrats -- although he also says he won't caucus with the Republicans.

As one Utah political insider says,
Supposedly, such positioning gives him a powerful leverage. This is a fantasy because any member of Congress who does not affiliate with a major party diminishes effectiveness to the detriment of their state (i.e. committee assignments). Expect this naïveté to be an election issue.
Shapiro thinks Utahns aren't big Trump fans, and thus might look favorably on McMullin:
Utah has never been a Trump state. Not only is the other senator Mitt Romney (the only Republican to vote to remove Trump from office after his 2020 impeachment trial over Ukraine), but McMullin himself received 22 percent of the presidential vote in the state in 2016.
Yes, but Trump got 46% of the vote in 2016 and beat Hillary Clinton by 18 points. In 2020, without McMullin on the ballot, Trump got 58% of the vote and won by 20.

Shapiro sees this as a model for other forms of pro-democracy cooperation across state lines.
The same possibility of a coalition for democracy exists in Wyoming where Liz Cheney — the embodiment of anti-Trump conservatism — faces a brutal August 16 primary to hold her House seat. Under Wyoming election laws, Democrats could declare themselves as “Republicans for a day” to vote to support Cheney. In a close election, these temporary converts might decide the outcome.

Even if McMullin and Cheney go down to defeat, the strategy behind Democratic involvement in both these races is sound. In one-party Republican states, the best possible approach is to make common cause with conservatives and moderates who uphold democratic values and reject Trump’s destructive fantasies about a stolen election.
But will any Republicans return the favor? Many election truthers will win Republican primaries this year. Will even a segment of the Michigan GOP ally with Democrats to defeat QAnon-linked, Trump-backed election denier Kristin Karamo if, as expected, she wins the secretary of state primary in Michigan? (She has the party's endorsement.) Will any Republicans split off and endorse the Democrat in Missouri if unindicted sex criminal Eric Greitens is the Senate nominee? And so on around the country.

The Democratic Party will abase itself in Utah and Wyoming, and probably in Alaska, where Senator Lisa Murkowski will need Democratic votes to beat Trumpist Kelly Tshibaka in the general election, assuming, as expected, that both survive the nonpartisan primary. Meanwhile, nearly all Republicans will probably vote for the conspiracy theorists and other low lives their party nominates. Walter Shapiro may like this, but it looks as if it will be a one-way street.

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