by Gordon Jones

It’s a mercy John Curtis ran for Congress in the Third District. Otherwise, Tanner Ainge and Chris Herrod would have precious little to talk about. Neither of them seems at all interested in explaining exactly how they are going to accomplish their grandiose promises (which are in all essentials exactly like those of Jason Chaffetz, Mia Love, Mike Lee, Orrin Hatch, Chris Stewart, Rob Bishop, and every other elected official Utah has sent to Washington in the last 30 years).

They seem to be more interested in protecting us from Mussolini.

Really!

In the last few days I have been informed by mailers from their two campaigns, and by at least one outside group campaigning on their behalf, that there is not the proverbial dime’s worth of difference between Provo Mayor John Curtis and Bernie Sanders, or Hillary Clinton, or Nancy Pelosi (or, to judge by the photo of John these campaigns use, Bela Lugosi).

Is there no one at these campaigns or at Club for Growth (I’m talking to you, Dave McIntosh) with the slightest sense of shame?

To paraphrase Lloyd Benson, I knew Nancy Pelosi; Nancy Pelosi was a friend of mine (at least she used to be willing to come on my TV show at a moment’s notice). And you, John Curtis, are no Nancy Pelosi. To suggest that you are is beyond silly.

I hold no particular brief for John Curtis. I am not connected in any way with his campaign. I can’t even vote in this primary.

Nor do I deprecate, as a matter of principle, negative campaigning. In general, it provides more actual content than positive campaigning (do we care that the candidate has a lovely wife, wears checked shirts, and likes dogs?). Negative campaigning forces candidates to respond (if they’re smart) and those responses tell us something.

But please, a little sense of proportion here.

I’m no big fan of Bus Rapid Transit (tho it’s vastly preferable to fixed rail), and I oppose any and all subventions to Google Fiber, or whatever the latest iteration of Utopia is called; nor do I defend Provo Power or any of the other examples of socialism the citizens of the most conservative city in the world have imposed on themselves.

But a city is not a state and it is not the United States. If the citizens of Provo adopt BRT, with or without cheerleading by Mayor Curtis (who is an executive, and as such does not vote on the policies adopted by the city), that’s their business. There is no reason whatever to think that a mayor, if elected to Congress, will try to do the things for the nation that any municipal officer has to do for his city. The last mayor Utah sent to Washington, Jake Garn, used his experience in local government to temper the proclivities of the likes of Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, and Hillary Clinton. He was certainly not their ally on any issue I can think of.

Tanner Ainge wants to “fix a broken Washington the Utah way.” An admirable goal (and one I’m sure Curtis shares). What might be helpful would be some insight into how that can be done. Is there some reason to think that Ainge will be more effective at exporting Utah values to Washington than Jason Chaffetz was? Chaffetz was as politically inexperienced as Ainge is.

Chris Herrod will “always protect taxpayers” and “fight for smaller government.” Mike Lee said the same, with little measurable success to date. Will Herrod help Lee in his campaign to torpedo the one possibility Republicans had to get Medicaid under control?

John Curtis also wants to “send some Utah values to Washington.” Whether he does so or not, Curtis does seem to have presided over, if not engineered, the development of Provo into a city whose reputation for job creation, livability, and sound economics is nation-wide. Maybe that doesn’t tell us everything we need to know, but it is a sight better than anything we have gotten from the other two campaigns.

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Gordon S. Jones is a long-time Washington policy analyst and political consultant who resides (again) in Utah, where he is on the faculty of Utah Valley University and Salt Lake Community College. He also teaches history and literature at Williamsburg Learning and works very difficult crossword puzzles.
  • I agree. The tactics of the Ainge and Herrod campaigns, along with outside organizations who’ve decided to offer their own input, are unbecoming. John Curtis gets a lot of misplaced blame, even though he’s been a successful mayor and is largely popular with Provo residents.

    A correction, however, the last mayor Utah sent to Washington is Mia Love, who was Mayor of Saratoga Springs from 2010-2014. Not Jake Garn.

  • David Rogers

    I have worked with John Curtis before. He is a fine man and unique leader. He seems to be focused, ethical and honest. If he has the courage, he could be a significant influence in D.C.