The left has a narrative and template for the image of a Republican. They try to convince themselves and everyone else that a Republican is an old white guy who is a throwback to the father figure on the TV show, “Father Knows Best.” This is why they don’t fight the confirmation of a judicial or cabinet nominee who looks like this as hard as they fight against confirming a Miguel Estrada or a Janice Rogers Brown. I believe the left is losing this identity politics battle concerning the image of a Republican.
One example of a state Republican party and voters in the general election destroying this meme is Utah. There are 4 US House and 2 US Senate seats that comprise the Utah congressional delegation. Five of these six seats are up for grabs in 2012. The US Senate seat Mike Lee won in 2010 is up for grabs in 2016, and Mike Lee is not the left’s image of a Republican. The results of the Utah state convention are that the Republican nominees for the four US House seats are secured, and only the US Senate nominee is yet to be determined in the June runoff primary. If the 37 year old candidate Dan Liljenquist wins this primary, then five of the six members of the Utah congressional delegation are not the left’s image of a Republican. Even before this June primary the Utah Republican party is to be applauded. Let’s not boo the voters in Utah even if we don’t like the results in June…they’ve still done so much over the past three election cycles in terms of out with the old and in with the new.
Below is some information about Senator Mike Lee and three of the Republican nominees for US House seats. Many states may have really cool GOP candidates running, but Utah has really cool GOP nominees.
Jason Chaffetz (age 45), who grew up in California, Arizona, and Colorado, was invited to Utah in the mid-1980s by the legendary BYU football coach LaVell Edwards to be a placekicker. His years at BYU literally transformed his life.
He still holds the BYU individual records for most extra points attempted in a game (10), most extra points made in a game (10), and most consecutive extra points made in a game (10). After a successful football career that included two years as the starting placekicker and school records, Mr. Chaffetz earned a degree in communications and married Julie Johnson of Mesa, Arizona. While a student at BYU, he was a Utah co-chairman for Michael Dukakis’s 1988 campaign for U.S. President. He became a Republican after meeting Ronald Reagan in 1990, when Reagan came to Chaffetz’s employer, Nu Skin, a multi-level marketing company based in Provo, Utah, as a motivational speaker.
Chaffetz became the Republican nominee after defeating 12 year incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon in the primary election which took place on June 24, 2008. He went on to defeat Democratic nominee Bennion L. Spencer in the November 2008 general election. On November 4, 2008, Jason Chaffetz was elected by a 37-point margin to represent Utah’s Third Congressional District. He distinguished himself by building a grass roots campaign organization rooted in principle and with a demonstrated commitment to fiscal discipline.
To secure the Republican nomination, Mr. Chaffetz did so with no paid staff, no polling, no free meals for potential voters, no campaign office, and a refusal to go into debt to finance the campaign. Despite being outspent by over $600,000, Mr Chaffetz’s approach to conservative principles resonated with voters and resulted in an unprecedented victory.
While Mike Lee spent about half of his childhood years in Utah, he spent the other half in McLean, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. His father served first as an Assistant U.S. Attorney General (overseeing the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice during the Ford Administration) from 1975 until 1976, and then as the U.S. Solicitor General (charged with representing the United States government before the Supreme Court during the first term of the Reagan Administration) from 1981 until 1985.
Growing up Lee went to school with Senator Strom Thurmond’s daughter and lived three doors down from Senator Robert Byrd. He was friends with Harry Reid’s son Josh. Senator Reid was the Lees’ home teacher. Lee recalls as a child how Senator Reid once locked him and Josh in their garage as a practical joke. Accroding to Lee the Reid family were the first Democrats he knew well and it was dealing with them that showed him the importance of being able to defend his political views in discussion with those who held other views.
Lee ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010. At the Republican State Convention on the first ballot he received 982 votes (28.75%) defeating Tim Bridgewater and 18 year incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Bennett. Bridgewater, however won the second and third ballots to win the party endorsement. Both Bridgewater and Lee received enough support to have their names placed on the primary ballot.
In the primary election, held on June 22, 2010, Lee became the Republican nominee by winning 51 percent of the vote against Bridgewater’s 49 percent. The general election was held on November 2, 2010. Lee won the election with 62 percent of the vote to Granato’s 33 percent and Bradley’s 6 percent. At the age of 40, Lee is the youngest current U.S. senator.
Pilot and author Chris Stewart, age 51, beat former Utah House Speaker David Clark in the 2nd District.
Chris Stewart joined the United States Air Force where he was the Distinguished Graduate (top of his class) in both Officer Training School and Undergraduate Pilot Training.
He served for fourteen years as a pilot in the Air Force, flying both rescue helicopters and the B-1B bomber. On June 3, 1995, Chris led two B-1s on a nonstop flight around the world, setting three world speed records in the process, including the fastest non-stop flight around the world.
Chris is president and CEO of the Shipley Group. Shipley is nationally recognized for their consulting expertise in energy and the environment, as well as government anti-terrorism training and corporate security and executive preparedness consulting. During the time that Chris has been at the helm of the company, Shipley has increased its sales and profitability many times over.
Chris Stewart is a New York Times bestselling author who has published more than a dozen books, has been selected by the Book of the Month Club, and has released titles in multiple languages in seven countries. He has also been a guest editorialist for the Detroit News, among other publications, commenting on matters of military readiness and national security concerns.
Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love easily defeated former state lawmaker Carl Wimmer for the 4th District nomination. In her spare time Mia, age 37, is an avid runner, tread trainer, and accomplished singer and dancer.
She credits her parents with providing the foundation for her ideals. After many years of living in the unstable, regime-torn socialist island country of Haiti, her parents immigrated legally to the United States with $10 in their pockets in hopes of achieving the American Dream. On the day of Mia’s college orientation, her father said something to her that would become the ethos for her life:
Mia, your mother and I never took a handout. You will not be a burden to society. You will give back.