The Week Ahead
Why don’t we all just agree to have a nice quiet week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday? Avoid anything political. Enjoy eating, football, and time with family and friends. And go for a long walk, crunching through a carpet of fallen leaves.
For those who can’t leave politics alone, a few legislative meetings will be held today and Tuesday (see calendar for notices and agendas), including an appropriations subcommittee today at 1:30 that will focus on transportation funding (see agenda). Check the calendar at the right, below, for other activities on this holiday week.
Hatch OK, Cannon Has Issues
Despite having a “naked re-elect” number under 50% in the latest Morning News poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, Sen. Orrin Hatch seems to be in reasonably good shape for re-election. The same poll gave him a 67% approval rating. The reason the somewhat low re-elect number isn’t much to get excited about is that such questions don’t match the incumbent against anyone. In a head-to-head poll against his Democratic opponent Pete Ashdown, Hatch would likely do much better.
Meanwhile, the member of Congress with the biggest challenge is Rep. Chris Cannon, according to the Morning News report on approval ratings. At 50%, Cannon’s approval rating isn’t great, but of bigger concern is his disapproval rating at 34%, the highest of the delegation by far. And 20% of respondents said they “strongly disapprove” of Cannon’s performance, which is also quite high. Facing a couple of likely intra-party challengers in businessman John Jacob and Sen. Curtis Bramble, Cannon clearly has some work to do.
People You Ought to Know
Name: Randy T. Simmons
Occupation: Professor and Department Head, Political Science, Utah State University. I am also now the mayor-elect of Providence, Utah.
Education: BA USU, MA and PhD in political science at the University of Oregon
Growing up: I grew up on a dairy and put myself through college trimming cows’ feet—a bovine pedicurist. The Brown brothers in Coalville were among our clients.
Family: My wife Janet teachers kindergarten. Our son Dan is Natural Resources task force director for the American Legislative Exchange Council. Emily conducts impact fee analyses through her own consulting firm. Mick is at Goldman Sachs.
Why political involvement: Because I have a passion for liberty. Philosophically I am libertarian in the same sense that Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater were. My guiding principle is that we should unleash capitalism and let people run their private lives without interference from government.
Hobbies: Reading science fiction; backpacking; cooking beer can chicken and turkey, brisket, pulled pork, and ribs on the grill; and searching for good chocolate
Motivations/ambitions: To promote liberty and efficiency-enhancing public policies—restricting people’s ability to take their neighbors’ property through zoning and encouraging user fees for private services provided by government such as parks, public lands, and golf courses for example.
Hottest issue you’re watching: Zoning and planning issues along the Wasatch Front. I read this to keep up with issues outside of Cache Valley. Wilf Sommerkorn, who runs the blog, is one of the clearest thinking planners I have ever met. Of course that is a low standard, but Wilf truly stands out.
Proudest moment: Proudest public moment was publishing a full-page article on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post on the follies of the ivory trade ban—it does not help elephants and makes poor Africans even poorer.
Most embarrassing moment: Losing the election for mayor of Providence by 6 votes in 2001.
Favorite book: The Robert Fox translation of the Five Books of Moses: the Shocken Bible” and his translation of I and II Samuel titled Give us a King! Raymond Scheindlin’s translation of The Book of Job. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. And of course, Beyond Politics: Market, Welfare, and the Failure of Bureaucracy by William C. Mitchell and Randy Simmons.
Favorite mentor: The authors I read: Moses, Samuel, Job, Adam Smith, F. A. Hayek, the authors of the Federalist Papers, Scott Card, Robert Heinlein.
A small insight into my psyche: I believe two of the most important problems facing any society are personal responsibility and leadership. Thus, questions about what it means to ask for leadership, how the leaders measure up to the task, how the ideals of that culture fare in that process, and what is the just society become the core questions. That is why I read the Old Testament and science fiction that address these questions. As Everett Fox asks in his introduction to Give us a King!, “What will you do to ensure the flourishing of a just society? And what happens to society if it seeks, and finds, leaders who are not just?” My answer to Fox’s questions is that political institutions must be designed so that even unjust leaders promote the public interest. That is the genius of the American system as designed by the Federalists.
Jennifer Napier Pearce’s InsideUtah.com features all things food...Senate President John Valentine (1:13) on removing the sales tax on food, plus commentary from Salt Lake Chamber President Lane Beattie and House Minority Leader Ralph Becker (4:52). Also, the Utah Food Bank’s Amberlie Phillips (9:30) on the state of hunger in Utah. Then food expert Steven Rosenberg (14:01) discusses his love affair with flavor, the owner of one of Salt Lake’s newest cafes describes life running a cereal bar (18:57), and Bambara executive chef Robert Barker (24:24) outlines his delicacy this season – creole fried turkey. Bon appetit and Happy Thanksgiving!
On the Senate Site Blog, Sen. Lyle Hillyard pays tribute to Reed Bullen, a true Senate legend who spent 22 years representing the Logan area. Hillyard describes how Bullen used to campaign and closes his post with some comments about the increasing size and expense of government.
Meanwhile, Green Jello responds to Sen. Chris Buttar's evolution bill announcement... The Weber County Forum criticizes the Ogden City rec center feasability study... SLCSpin notes that the Tribune "finally broke the Big-2 newspaper silence on the candidacy of Julian Hatch."... The Project on American Oversight blog takes a long look at connections between Rep. Chris Cannon and his former Chief of Staff, David Safavian, now in legal trouble... National Blogger Brendan Nyhan criticizes Sen. Orrin Hatch and other Republicans for attacking Democratic dissent.
Green Jello congratulates Rep. Jim Matheson for being the sole member of Utah's congressional delegation to vote against budget-cutting bill... The Internet Patrol and The Quiet Revolution have long posts supporting the Free Speech Coalition's suit over Utah's anti-spam email address registry... Texas congressman/blogger hails Rep. Steve Urquhart for his blogging prowess, as does national blog Lawmakers, which in turn condemns as fake Sen. Orrin Hatch's blog.
Congress passes construction conference report that includes money for Utah military projects requested by Sen. Orrin Hatch (see press release); Congress also passes Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Appropriations conference report containing several Utah community development and transportation projects pushed by Hatch (see press release). Meanwhile, the Senate passes legislation, developed in part by Hatch, that prevents a "dramatic" tax increase on middle-class Americans (see press release).
Sen. Bob Bennett hails his colleagues in Congress for approving spending bill that sends $62 million to Utah military installations (press release unavailable online)... Of the same bill, Sen. Orrin Hatch says, “This funding goes to show that the Defense Department recognizes the superior level of work performed by Utah’s military personnel” (see press release)... Senate also approves legislation sponsored by Hatch and Rep. Chris Cannon allocating funds for expanding the Richfield Municipal Airport, providing Paiute Indian Tribe with economic development money (see press release)... Meanwhile, amidst heated debate in D.C. over Iraq War, Sen. Hatch says Democrats "want to do anything they can to cripple the president," adding, "Unfortunately, the only people they are hurting are our soldiers overseas" (Sacramento Bee).