Utah Democrats now have two highly-qualified Democrats to choose from to either replace Bob Bennett or compete against Bennett's Republican replacement, which would most likely be Cherilyn Eagar or Mike Lee at this point. First-time candidate Christopher Stout has officially filed to seek the Democratic nomination for Bennett's seat, joining established Democrat Sam Granato in the race. Although numerous candidates have been campaigning, the official filing period didn't begin until Friday March 12th. The list of officially-filed candidates is available HERE. Stout's campaign website is fully operational:
The Deseret News revealed that Stout actually first announced his intent back on January 23rd, 2010. Stout also posted the following assessment of his chances on JMBell's blog:
I suppose I would have a better chance if I ran as a Republican? The problem is that Democrats themselves don’t believe they can win. Republicans would vote for a good solid Democrat that shares some of their views. I don’t believe that all Republicans in Utah are of the Carl Wimmer, Chris Buttars, and Mike Noel variety. The core or base of either party here in Utah makes up probably 20% on the Democrat side and 30% on the Republican side. These are the hard core liberals and conservatives. Everything else is up for grabs.
It also depends on who the ultimate candidates are. If Mike Lee wins the nomination at the Republican Convention – which I think is a strong possibility, the moderate Republicans and Independents will be looking for a strong fiscal responsible candidate to vote for. In that case, the odds favor the more rational candidate. If Bob Bennett wins the nomination, then the job is harder, but not out of reach. Bennett has become a flip-flopper and with money and support and believe I can steal votes from him.
Four videos of Stout's speech at the Weber/Davis Democrats Breakfast on March 13th are accessible HERE.
While Stout does not identify himself as a "blue-dog" Democrat, an examination of his website reveals that he identifies with many blue-dog positions, just like Rep. Jim Matheson. Two of his key issues include reducing the national debt and freeing America from its energy dependence on foreign oil. Specific core issues identified include Effective Government, Energy Independence, National Security and Veteran Care, Recovery, Growth, Prosperity, and Reducing the Debt. But his primary reason for running is because he believes many candidates already in the race are taking positions that preclude compromise, in turn precluding the state and the nation from bringing resolutions to our problems. He considers himself the candidate that will listen, formulate solutions, and act in the best interest of all the people of Utah. He believes best candidate for this job must listen to the people and work towards resolution, which results in a better, stronger and more efficient government. But Stout is not without liabilities; he told KCPW that, like Bob Bennett, he would have voted for TARP.
As for Sam Granato, the Provo Daily Herald reports that Christopher Stout says Granato has done little to explain his platform in the intervening months and that he doesn’t have what it takes to beat a Republican if he gets the nomination. The former is true; Granato took an inordinate amount of time to organize a coherent Internet presence. A subsequent report from KSL Channel 5 records reaction from the Granato camp. Granato's campaign manager, Rob Miller, said Granato will be updating his website with his positions next week. He also said Granato has been stating his positions on campaign stops throughout the state and that there's no question Granato is in the race to win.
Stout was born in Salt Lake City and has lived in Utah for the better part of his 44 years, married, raised two daughters, and carved out a successful career as an accountant and working with my family on several business ventures. He is a veteran, having served an Active Guard Reserve (AGR) position as a U.S. Army Reserve Recruiter in Ogden. He obtained an Associate Degree in Business from Salt Lake Community College in 1997, and finished his accounting degree at the University of Utah in 1999.
Prognosis: It's too bad Stout waited so long to get into the race. Nonetheless, Stout has shown himself to be a more active candidate than Granato. In addition, Stout is actively reaching out beyond Democratic ranks. Consequently, he is a better candidate than Sam Granato, although it might require a primary contest for him to dispose of Granato.