While US Senator Bob Bennett is fighting for his political life another locally important but much less known race is underway; the House District 20 seat currently held by Republican Becky Edwards. Representative Edwards is running for re-election to a second term along with two Republican challengers, Chet Loftis and DJ Schanz. As a State Delegate for the Republican Party I need to decide who to vote for.
I met Becky when she ran against Paul Neuenschwander in the last election. Becky is one of the nicest people you would ever meet. As a matter of fact I have never met anyone who doesn’t believe the same about Becky even those who don’t want to see her re-elected agree that she is a genuinely good and decent person.
I was a supporter of Paul and I felt that he did a good job with his first and subsequently only term as a State Representative. I asked Becky when she ran against Paul if she thought that he had not lived up to her expectations as her representative. I must admit that I fully expected that a challenger of a one-term State Representative would be running against the incumbent because she did not believe that the incumbent did a good job or had somehow let down his constituents. But her answer was quite a surprise to me. She said that she liked Paul and thought that he had done a good job in his first term but that she just wanted the opportunity to serve.
I realize that there are many reasons people decide to run for public office but it seems to me that if you, as member of the same political party believe that your representative has done a good job that you would not let your personal ambitions lead you to run against that person. I don’t say this to be harsh toward Becky, again, I think she is a wonderful person and as a State Representative I believe she has done her best to be thoughtful and fair when voting on the issues that face our state. She is not as conservative in many of her views as I, but I would not lose sleep is she was re-elected. Her answer to me that day simply left me somewhat speechless and I don’t think that Becky thoroughly considered her reply to my question before she answered.
This brings me to the one issue that I believe will be the biggest cause of trouble for Becky in her bid for re-election. It’s occasional poor judgment on critical issues. Let me explain. Becky has been accused of leaving the Democrat party and registering as a Republican shortly before she decided to run for the Republican nomination for State Representative in House District 20. If those accusations are true it would have made sense for an ambitious person who wanted to be elected in a heavily Republican dominated district to run as a Republican and not a Democrat. Strategically, it would make great sense. But, if it were true it would also put her in a very difficult position trying to explain her actions.
I recently spoke to her husband John Edwards and I asked him to explain to me what had happened and if the rumors were true. He denied that Becky was ever anything but a Republican. He even insisted that she had served as a Delegate for the Republican Party in Davis County. I took him at his word and did not verify his assertion. I will leave that up to others.
John said that he and Becky were big supporters of Mitt Romney during the Republican Presidential primaries in 2008. He said they donated to his campaign, supported him and even had one of his signs in their yard. But when Becky went to her neighborhood voting precinct to vote in the Republican primary she was told that she was not a registered Republican and could not vote in the primary. (hmmm…) According to John, Becky became very upset and frustrated. He said that she thought that it was ridiculous that she had to be a registered Republican to vote in a Republican Primary. He continued by saying that she was not allowed to register as a Republican at that time and in her frustration and strong desire to vote she simply registered as a Democrat so that she could, as he put it, “exercise her civic duty and right to vote.”
He then said that she never told him who she voted for and he never asked. He concluded the explanation by telling me that sometime later Becky asked him to tell her who she was politically. He reminded her that she had always voted Republican and that she always voted for the Republican Presidential candidate so there was no question but that she was a Republican. Hence, she changed her short-lived political party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and soon thereafter ran as a Republican challenger to Paul Neuenschwander.
After hearing John’s response to the “rumors” about Becky changing from a Democrat to a Republican just to increase her chance of winning I told him that I did not question the truthfulness of his story but I did question the critical judgment of Becky, especially if she had ever before considered the possibility that she would one day run as a Republican for State office. He agreed that in hindsight it was not the best course for her to have taken.
Two years later Becky now finds herself in the same position that Paul was in and she is seeking another term, her second. I told her that I thought that a two-year term was too short to judge an incumbent unless they were blatantly pathetic in their performance and overall I do not think that anyone could honestly describe Becky that way. She has made some tough decisions, many of which surely caused some deep soul searching but I believe that she has worked hard to be as “conservative” as her beliefs and values dictate even if she had been judged by some as not conservative enough.
Ronald Reagan was a Democrat before changing to the Republican Party. Of course, he claimed that the Democrat party left him and if Becky’s story is entirely true she was never really a Democrat or at least her time as a Democrat was short lived and ill-conceived in a moment of poor judgment. This is Becky’s challenge in a very fired up “Conservative” movement in this year’s election. And her challengers know that this is her biggest weakness and they will surely take advantage of the situation.
Now let me briefly write about her two challengers. First, who is Chet Loftis? Is he a Republican, or more importantly is he a “conservative”? I spoke to Chet on two occasions and frankly I have two problems with Chet. Number one, he is an attorney and I think that we don’t need any more attorneys in our government. They have a way of arrogantly assuming that the rest of us need their intelligence and wisdom due to a lack of our own. I know that I just offended any attorney who reads this, but relax, not every attorney runs for political office, only those who believe as I have stated above. OK, I apologize for my broad and possibly unfair characterization of an important segment of our society. It’s just that so many of our inept and unethical legislators are attorneys that it makes me suspicious of another attorney running for political office.
The main reason that I will not vote for Chet is that he is a lobbyist and in my opinion the only thing worse than an attorney in political office is a former lobbyist. Chet doesn’t seem to have many strong political views or conservative ideas but he definitely relishes the opportunity of being “lobbied to” instead of “lobbying at” for a change. Chet may be a wonderful person but there is nothing about his campaign that reaches out for my vote as a conservative.
Now, on to DJ Schanz. I have spoken to DJ a few times and recently spent nearly an hour one-on-one with him. There is no question in my mind that DJ is a conservative. He is also quite articulate and well versed in politics and constitutional issues. Of the three candidates DJ more closely represents my political views in almost every area. But the more you get to know someone the more you realize that we are all different and no one thinks completely alike on every issue.
This is not a bad thing unless the difference of opinion is a political deal breaker. Everything that DJ expressed to me hit home for me and rang very true in my conservative soul, until he mentioned the one thing and frankly, the only thing that would cause me to question his political judgment. He was a big supporter of Ron Paul. Although I think Ron Paul is an intelligent man and quite the student of the constitution I believe that his political views are too isolationist and narrow-minded. I agree with him that it is not the responsibility of the US to be the world police, but we do have political and economical interest throughout the world that we must protect. Like it or not, we are a big part of the world economy and it is simply too late to pick up our toys and go home.
Is DJ’s support of Ron Paul a political deal-breaker for me? Probably not, but this brings up the same issue I have with Becky Edwards; political judgment. Perhaps it would be easier if we didn’t know too much about our candidates. It would be easier if we simply judged them according to their actions and political record and not their rhetoric.
To me this race is between Becky Edwards and DJ Schanz, two good people with similar ideas. Becky wants what Paul Neuenschwander wanted two years ago-- the opportunity to serve a second term and ironically DJ wants what Becky wanted two years ago to defeat the one-term incumbent.
If you ask DJ he will tell you that Becky is not conservative enough and if you ask Becky she will tell you that she deserves another chance to prove that she can represent our district according to the values and beliefs we hold true.
I am going to keep my vote private at this time. But I will say that whoever of the two becomes our Republican nominee will, without hesitation have my full support in the general election.