Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gender Studies Instructor Claudia Wright Replaces John Weis As Progressive Challenger To Utah Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson


The progressive Utah Citizens Initiative has chosen a new Democratic challenger to incumbent Utah Congressman Jim Matheson. Claudia Wright (pictured at left, in front of the microphone) has been selected to replace John Weis, who was originally chosen at an ad hoc citizens caucus held involving 100 people at the Salt Lake Library on January 30th, 2010.

Weis, a pathology professor at the University of Utah, initially accepted the group's nomination, but after further reflection, decided he couldn't campaign across the farflung 2nd Congressional District while keeping up with his job. "I don't think I had any idea of the magnitude of the commitment it was going to take to mount an effective campaign," Weis said on Friday February 5th. "I came up against the hard reality that I could do two things poorly."

So the mantle was offered to Claudia Wright, who had finished second behind Weis, and she accepted. Wright, who is an adjunct instructor in the Gender Studies program at the University of Utah, explained that the campaign will be about much more than a single race. "It is about the need to reclaim our democracy, and the state of Utah is one of the rare places where we really have the potential to make that happen," Wright said. UtahsRight lists Wright's annual salary at $7,111. More information on Claudia Wright now available at Utah Citizen's Candidate. Since this post, it's emerged that Claudia Wright is also a lesbian.

Looking at the photo above, one could understandably question Claudia Wright's qualifications for teaching anyone about "gender". It was not immediately obvious at first glance which of the three individuals in the photo was Claudia Wright. On the other hand, appearances can be deceiving; one individual commented to the Tribune story that "Claudia is a fantastic person and educator. I first met her as my teacher at Cottonwood High School in 1983. She taught me AP US History and AP European History and was one of the best teachers that I ever had. She was knowledgable, prepared and passionate. We always knew she had strong political views, but never knew exactly what those views were (as it should be in school)..."

As for John Weis, he is "100 percent behind" Wright, and said that she will carry the same message he would have; namely, that Matheson has moved too far from his base. Progressive Democrats criticize Matheson for his positions on such issues as climate change, health care, gay rights, immigration reform; they don't like the fact that he's a moderate blue-dog Democrat. But if Matheson starts moving to the left to co-opt Wright, that will leave him vulnerable to a Republican challenger; most people believe that challenger will be Morgan Philpot.

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