Monday, January 11, 2010

Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett Sounds Off About His Four Republican Challengers; Club For Growth Says "Anyone But Bennett"

The Logan Herald-Journal reports that on Thursday January 7th, 2010, incumbent Republican Senator Bob Bennett held forth publicly about his Republican challengers for the first time since his re-election campaign began. They include James Williams, a small business owner from South Jordan; Cherilyn Eagar, co-owner of a real estate Internet marketing company; Tim Bridgewater, former Utah County Republican Party chairman; and Mike Lee, an attorney from Alpine.

And Bennett started off by politely dismissing the chances of Williams altogether, characterizing him as an unknown. “He claims he has a Facebook or a Web presence, and he claims he’s organizing with volunteers to go to the precinct caucuses and be delegates for Williams,” said Bennett. “We have not yet come across any sign of that activity, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going on.”

Bennett acknowledges that Cherilyn Eagar is a more active campaigner, but he tends to brush her off as a media creation. “Cherilyn Eagar has her group, primarily in Utah County with whom she is affiliated ... but she’s a little more visible,” said Bennett.

Bennett pays tribute to Mike Lee's extensive judicial experience and his constitutional expertise, but questions whether or not Lee has the moxie to "dirty his hands" with grass-roots political organizing. “Mike Lee is a lawyer who has been giving seminars on the Constitution, and some of them have been fairly well attended,” Bennett said. “Whether he can turn that group into a political force is something that’s yet to be seen.”

Interestingly, Bob Bennett seems to give Tim Bridgewater a bit of a bump, citing him as having the most political experience, based upon Bridgewater's past service as a county party chairman and also as the Western States Regional Coordinator for John McCain’s presidential race.

So it appears the Bennett campaign is performing a balancing act. They immediately write off Williams, marginalize Eagar and Lee, and gently bump Bridgewater. This implies the Bennett campaign looks upon Mike Lee and Cherilyn Eagar as the real threats, and are trying to neutralize them. Or perhaps the Bennett campaign is trying to induce Bridgewater to drop out of the race and support Bennett. But Bennett himself claims he's not differentiating between his opponents, and doesn't really know how to rank them. “Each one of (the other candidates) has a methodology and a strategy, and it’s impossible to tell which one of them has the best strategy,” Bennett said. “We’re still anticipating preparing and fundraising for a primary. We are also organizing for 60 percent. We’re going for both.” Delegates to the state GOP convention in May will be chosen at a series of neighborhood precinct caucuses in March. If any candidate secures 60 percent of the delegate vote, there will not be a Republican primary, otherwise, there'll be a primary fight between the top two finishers.

Comments posted to the various media stories indicate that although Tim Bridgewater is a "political pro", much of Bennett's opposition is now coalescing around either Mike Lee or Cherilyn Eagar. Lee's supporters seem to want a better version of Bob Bennett (Bob Bennett version 2.0), while Eagar's supporters want a DIFFERENT version altogether (Cherilyn Eagar version 1.0). But a national lobbying group has decided to insert itself into the race and stir up the pot further. The anti-tax group Club for Growth announced on January 8th that it is opposing the re-election of Bob Bennett, but did not endorse a particular successor. The Club for Growth claims that bennett is out of touch with the times and with his state, citing his "disastrous plan for a federal health care takeover" and his vote for the Troubled Asset Relief Program as part of the problem in Washington. Read the Club for Growth's full statement HERE.

On the other hand, both the NRSC and Mitt Romney have endorsed Bennett.


Publius2k said...

I know several supporters of Mike Lee, and not a single one of them want a "Bob Bennett 2.0", so I have no idea where you are getting that impression from. Lee supporters seem to be staunch advocates of the Constitution and limited federal government, which the incumbent has clearly shown antagonism towards.

If anything, Lee's supporters want a "Constitutionalist 1.0", a far cry from anything Bennett has done thus far.

Optimistic in Utah said...

I agree with Publius2k. I think Mike Lee has the potential to offer something unique as Utah's representative. He has the resume and the connections to have a shot at winning, but he is a believer in the Constitution and has actually taken the time to try to understand it.

TFC Utah said...

Agreed on Lee. He's intelligent, articulate, has experience, but hasn't been warped by years in DC. His work as a government and private attorney gave him perspective from both sectors. Best of all, he's a true fiscal conservative right when the country (and the state) need just that.

Cherilyn Eagar is also intriguing to me, but doesn't seem to have quite the background in law and the Constitution that I'd like to see in a Senator. Not that they all have to be lawyers, mind you, but she smacks a bit of a Jason Chaffetz type to me--very willing to be in the public eye, make politically appealing statements, take whatever stance will be popular with "those in charge" and smile nice for the camera the whole time.

As to the others, well, I don't know much about them. At this point, I'd give the edge to Lee.

Whatever happens, we've got to get Bennett out. This whole financial mess happened on his watch.

arc said...

It was interesting to have Jim Hansen take as much time introducing Lee. I have forgot how well he likes to talk. Jim Hansen was back in DC for, forever.

It would also be interesting to hear why Curt Bramble was endorsing Lee.

With the family name recognition, and the establishment endorsements, Lee is starting to look like the David Leavitt candidate from 2008.

Lee has been talking Case law and constitutional amendments. He really looks like he is going after the moderate voters and not the 9.12 and Tea Party groups.

Publius2k said...

arc, I've noticed you on other news sites and blogs, and it's quite obvious that you're a Cherilyn supporter. That's fine, but why don't you just mention Cherilyn's positive points instead of trying to paint Mike with a broad brush and raise these issues on every web page possible?

Negative campaigning has never really worked well. The 912 and Tea Party groups you refer to are sick of "politics as usual", which is exactly what you're doing.

Deseret Dawg said...

Publius2k: When I say "Bennett version 2.0", I mean Bob Bennett without the careerist baggage he's accumulated during his lengthy service in Washington. Mike Lee is somewhat different in philosophy from Bennett, but Cherilyn Eagar is even more different.

Let's put it this way - Mike Lee merely wants to replace Bob Bennett at the table. Cherilyn Eagar, in contrast, wants to kick over the table and start a new game. We need revolution in Washington rather than mere reform; Cherilyn Eagar seems more open-minded towards revolution.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't disagree more with the article's charaterization of Mike Lee in the article and by a couple of commenters. Mike Lee is for radical change. Radical in a sense that he wants to end what is going on in DC. He is everything that Bob Bennett is not. Mike is for limiting the powers of the Federal Govvernment. Bob is for more power. Bob is for earmarks that go to donors, Mike wants to completely end those types. Mike is the anti-Bennett in everyway. I know, because I went to his event and I asked him directly about it.

Deseret Dawg said...

Anonymous 1:57 P.M. - If Mike Lee told you that he is for radical change, then that's good news and implies that either Lee or Eagar might prove to be equally capable successors to Bob Bennett. Perhaps Mike Lee is simply playing it close to the vest publicly at this point in time.

My point is that the system itself is corrupt, and reform will be insufficient. A Congress that votes for hate crime legislation, cap-and-trade legislation, a monstrous health care boondoggle, and TARP funds for corporations, all of which were clearly against the public will, is a Congress which appears to be corrupt AT THE CORE. A "nice guy" will not be able to change that corruption.

Anonymous said...

Mike is a nice guy, but not a nice guy.. if you know what I mean. :)

If by revolution you mean gutting the federal government to its constitutional size and scope and putting a bit of 1776 and 1789 into 2010, then Mike's your man.

Jack Flagstaff said...

To TFC Utah: I respectfully disagree. Mike Lee is intelligent and articulate, but he has no experience except as a lawyer, and his Constitutional experience seems to me limited.
I'm backing Eagar because she's been in the trenches fighting for conservative principles since the 1970s. She knows how to get things done politcally, she knows how to beat the establishment.
Lee (and AG Shurtleff, who has endorsed Lee) were major McCain backers, and McCain turned out to be very moderate--not what America needs now.
Someday, Lee might be the right candidate, but not until he builds real conservative credentials and more experience than being Rex Lee's son. He's never fought a political fight in his life, he dosen't know how to win one.
Eagar does, she's won many, and Utah will win with her in the Senate.

Thinking smart said...

To those who don't know Cherilyn Eager, she has come from nowhere to being the lead candidate facing Bennett. Yes she is an excellent campaigner, but more than that she knows how to get things done, and has worked with groups like the Tea Party, 9/12, Eagle Forum, Mitt Romney's campaign and others.

But I think you all miss the point, and I'm going to take a big leap of faith and say it. She is a strong female conservative who can disarm the "gents" in Congress who want to put family values and other conservative issues on the back burner. She's not just the best candidate, she's the only candidate that offers these unique qualities.

arc said...

I believe that Cherilyn Eagar is the only one running who has supported and been active in fighting for conservative values for the last 30 years at the local, state, national and international level. [That includes Bennett]

Principles for a Change.

Fiscal Restraint
Limited Government
Free Market Solutions
Energy Independence
Strong National Defense
... not only abroad and along our borders, but within our communities and our families.

Anonymous said...

Mark my words. Mike Lee will be the next Senator from Utah. And he will do it at convention