Claudia Wright: The Right Choice 

It's time for a change—not of direction, but of heart.

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Some Utah Democrats living in Rep. Jim Matheson’s congressional district are wringing their hands about what to do come next Tuesday’s primary election. Should they vote for the guy who has, time and again, forsaken them, believing it’s better to have a Democrat in that seat—any Democrat, even one whom they often despise—or should they vote for political neophyte Claudia Wright, perhaps risking Utah’s only congressional seat held by a Democrat?

I’m not a handwringer on this one. I’m voting for Wright and have three reasons for doing so. First, Matheson abandoned his Salt Lake County base long ago. The only kinship he retains with that crowd are on environmental and land-based issues in Utah, and claiming he is against open-air nuclear testing. Outside of backsliders like Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee—the Republicans vying for Utah’s open Senate seat—most are against such nuclear testing. Thanks to Matheson being descended from Utah’s nuclear Downwinders, he’s gotten lots of mileage out of that issue. Every two years it mushrooms up, then blows away. It’s time to put that old Geiger counter down, Jim. We get it. It’s not only your problem; we’re all in this together.

Secondly, he’s been a lousy representative. If you voted for Matheson in the past, did you expect that he would thank you by not taking your phone calls? Or not returning your e-mails? Or asking you to talk to him instead via electronic public meetings? Or by talking to the press only when it suited him—as with the little-boy-in-the-sandbox cold shoulder that he gives to City Weekly?

When Holly Mullen was our editor, she began publishing a regular tick of how many weeks had elapsed since Matheson had granted an interview or talked to a City Weekly reporter. It was a number that equated to years of elapsed time since Matheson had spoken to this paper. According to his press aide, we weren’t nice to Jim. Holly’s been gone for over a year, and only this week—the one just before his most important election date ever—has he finally been sufficiently scared into answering a couple of questions. So, no thanks, Jim, I’m not voting for a pandering fool such as yourself, and I don’t feel bad about saying so.

And third, I’m with the Tea Party on this one—it’s time to vote the cynical, incumbent scoundrels out of Congress who do less for us than we can do for ourselves. Matheson, for example, cites his allegiance to due diligence and fiscal responsibility when he defends his vote against what is derisively called Obamacare. He says the bill was flawed. All congressional bills are flawed. The real flaw is that he doesn’t mention how much money he reaps from the health-care industry. He can claim fairness all day long, but it just isn’t so.

It isn’t fair that the health-care bill is lambasted as socialized medicine when he has a taxpayer-paid health plan that is more socialist than the one he would deny his constituents. What is fair is if Matheson finds himself without health care and without health-industry-support dollars in his pocket. It would also be fair if he would do as some Americans have done—shoot himself. That way, he wouldn’t be denied admission to an emergency room where he could then show why he’s really there, to renew a lapsed medication, perhaps. Not to worry—if he loads a gun the same way he handles his public comments, he’d be firing blanks anyway.

Jim Matheson entered office nearly a decade ago upon the backs of tens of thousands of formerly disenfranchised Democrats, their hopes pinned tightly to him. He turned on them. Forget the narcoleptic argument that his district is equally rural, equally Republican and his votes reflect his constituents’ wishes—he’s been consistent at licking that shoe from Day 1.

He’s made his money. He’s made fools of his Democratic supporters. His Republican detractors know he will do it to them, too. He’s not a man of substance; he’s a man of opportunity. His bus left the depot, and, this time, I and many others, aren’t along for the ride. He’s just one long night of empty foreplay—not only will he never kiss you back, he wants you to pay for the gas that burned in his engine while he let you fool around.

I don’t want to fool around, but neither do I want to be fooled again. Claudia Wright can win this primary election and she can win in November. It is indeed time for a change—not of direction, but of heart.

John Saltas:


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