If Tim Bridgewater wins the Republican Senatorial nomination on June 22nd and goes on to replace Bob Bennett, he may be able to look back upon June 18th, 2010 as a milestone date. That's the day that Bridgewater showed the public that if you take a hit for him, he doesn't just send you a lame thank-you letter; he actually goes to bat on your behalf.
Here's the situation. Bob Lonsberry was a highly popular and capable conservative radio personality who worked for KNRS 104.7 in Salt Lake for 10 years. As recently as a few weeks ago, Lonsberry reportedly packed in over 200 paying supporters to an event to celebrate his 10th year on the air. One would think he had become an icon, so to speak.
Then, on June 15th, Lonsberry decided to openly endorse Tim Bridgewater over Mike Lee. In the endorsement, published HERE, Lonsberry lauds both men as equally competent in life, saying that neither would be a failure as a senator and either could potentially be great. But Lonsberry clearly came down on the side of Bridgewater because he perceived Bridgewater to be a scrapper who's had to fight for everything he's got in life, while Mike Lee, in contrast, came from a privileged family who may have made Lee work for his success, but still paved the way for him. Bridgewater has paved his own way.
Just one day later on June 16th, after 10 years at KNRS and only weeks after celebrating the 10th anniversary of his show with 200 paying customers, Lonsberry, without warning, was suddenly fired. The official excuse: Low ratings. But what Lonsberry tells us HERE is that KNRS had not only switched frequencies earlier, but had adopted a new evaluation system called the People Meter. According to the People Meter measurements, KNRS' ratings suddenly plunged from the top to the bottom. It essentially said that 10 years of ratings were all wrong and that nobody was listening to his show, even though their sponsors still had plenty of customers, their listeners still helped determine the outcome of elections, and station events continued to draw well. By the way, it also cost his son his job at a sister station in Salt Lake.
Be that as it may, the timing is still auspicious. Lonsberry gets fired for "low ratings" just one day after endorsing Bridgewater? Are you kidding? I wasn't exactly born yesterday. Lonsberry points out that by endorsing Bridgewater, he was opposing a candidate (Mike Lee) who made $600,000 from one of KNRS' largest advertisers last year, Energy Solutions. Now you're getting the picture.
When Tim Bridgewater found out that Bob Lonsberry had taken a major hit for him, he didn't merely send Lonsberry a lame thank-you note. He stepped up to the plate and pulled all his campaign ads from KNRS. This was not an insignificant move; the KNRS radio buy was one of the largest for the Bridgewater campaign, and Bridgewater himself was actually scheduled to appear on Lonsberry’s Friday morning show since Mike Lee was on earlier in the week. Campaign spokeswoman Tiffany Gunnerson explained, “It’s hard to conclude anything besides that this firing was political in nature. Just weeks ago when we were purchasing ads on KNRS we were told they could not provide us with ratings because currently the rating system they had was inaccurate. Now weeks later they are firing a morning anchor who as of last September had the highest rated show on their station. If there ratings truly are abysmal, then we save money by pulling our ads, and if the firing of Bob Lonsberry was directly connected to his support of Tim Bridgewater, then out of principal we are doing the absolute right thing.”
In response, Mike Lee's campaign manager, Jonathan Reid, dismissed the allegations, saying "We heard about this for the first time today...Any assertion we had anything whatsoever to do with his firing is baseless and without any support." Reid also said the assertion that the campaign has somehow colluded with Energy Solutions in this matter is absurd. He further stated that the Lee campaign welcomes support from groups like the Tea Party Express.
Energy Solutions spokesman Mark Walker said the company played no role in the show's cancellation. He also said that while the company has made a small ad buy, he wouldn't consider Energy Solutions a major advertiser on KNRS. The company's foundation has bought additional ads for a Going Green campaign. Lonsberry and Energy Solutions aren't strangers. He's had representatives on his show and has toured the Energy Solutions facility, as well.
But one of Lee's former opponents, Cherilyn Eagar, is suspicious, and thinks there's something to it. Eagar -- who has endorsed Tim Bridgewater -- wrote a lengthy post on RedState decrying what she sees as EnergySolution's efforts to put a friendly politician in Congress to further aid them in securing radioactive waste for storage. "Wanting a senator who can bring home the bacon also means that if you cross EnergySolutions and their puppeteering, it could very well cost you your job," she wrote. Eagar also pointed out that "[Lonsberry] openly endorsed the other candidate in the race as a fighter who stood on principle. Not coincidentally, the No. 1 advertiser for KNRS, the station that fired him, is none other than ... you guessed it ... EnergySolutions. Also not coincidentally, EnergySolutions went to Tim Bridgewater earlier this week with a campaign contribution. Bridgewater rejected it. Bob lost his job within 2 days of his strong support for Bridgewater and Bridgewater's rejection of the EnergySolutions offer -- an offer that clearly has strings attached". A pro-Lee site attempts to rebut Eagar's points HERE, though.
The bottom line -- when Bob Lonsberry got into trouble, Tim Bridgewater delivered. And if he'll do that for one Utahn, think what he can do for all of Utah. Mike Lee is an honorable man, but Tim Bridgewater is the man we need in the U.S. Senate. The choice for Republicans on June 22nd is now obvious.