An Open Letter to @kathrynallenmd

Dear Dr. Allen,

Let me start off by saying that I enjoy your passion. It’s great to get involved in the political process, and one of the highest callings we as citizens have in this country is the ability to run for office. “Of the people, for the people, by the people” still rings true and should be how our country is governed. I’m just a little perturbed by what I personally view as an attempt to use your potential opponent’s name as a fundraising tool, instead of focusing on why you would be the better candidate.

It’s great that hundreds, if not thousands of people have enabled you to run through donations on CrowdPAC and Act Blue, as you went “viral” when someone retweeted your comments against Congressman Chaffetz. I’m glad that there are people out there with disposable income and passion for your cause. I’m just kind of confused what that cause really is, besides raising money for an election that is still 20 months away. Beyond that, accepting money from people outside of Utah is what a lot of people complain about when it comes to our Utah politicians, and now you are doing the exact same thing. Don’t think that Mr. Chaffetz won’t bring this up.

From your statements, I feel like you have a misunderstanding about how elections work in our state, which has led to misinforming your supporters. Sure, anyone can file to run for office provided they pay the applicable fees, sign the oath, and all that jazz. But actually getting on the general election ballot takes a few more steps, which doesn’t require you to begin a campaign so early in the process.

For starters, there is the petition process, where prospective candidates need to submit petitions “signed by at least two percent of the registered political party’s members who reside in the political division of the office that the person seeks.” (Source) If we use the recent election numbers as a guide, and use the number of votes for Stephen Tryon against Chaffetz as a proxy for registered Democrats in District 3 (I know this number is probably higher because some Dems stayed away), you will need just over 1,500 signatures… and those signatures should probably come from all over the district, not just Cottonwood Heights and Utah County.

That doesn’t seem all that hard, and with all the time and new resources at your disposal, there’s no reason to think that this can’t be accomplished. The thing is is that you won’t know how many signatures are needed until the lieutenant governor publishes the count in mid-November of this year. You can gather signatures in the meantime, while the iron is hot and everyone kinda knows your name, but what happens when November rolls around and you are a hundred signatures short? Will your local supporters still have that passion?

Speaking of local support, let’s take a look at the recent electoral history of Utah’s 3rd Congressional District:

UT District 3 Candidate Votes Percentage
2016 Chaffetz          209,589 73.46%
Tryon            75,716 26.54%
2014 Chaffetz          102,952 72.35%
Wonnacott            32,059 22.53%
2012 Chaffetz          198,828 76.61%
Simonsen            60,719 23.39%

Democrats don’t have much success in a District that has Utah County as an anchor. Chaffetz beat Tryon by a 5-to-1 margin in that county in November, with the other counties unable to make up the difference. In fact, Chaffetz even won in the slice of Salt Lake County that makes up the second largest piece of the district. Would a Democrat be able to turn some of those people to their side in an election? Sure, anything is possible, and with the election 20 months away, a lot can happen. But the turnout in non-presidential elections tends to get cut in half, so the work needs to be about getting those people that don’t vote in midterms out to the polls, about keeping those people engaged long enough to get to the end. It’s hard enough to do this for two months, let alone 20. You are potentially running against a person that has been doing what a majority of his constituents have wanted, otherwise they would have already voted him out of office.

I agree that Jason Chaffetz is kind of a scumbag and should probably be replaced, but there should be more to a campaign than just “I’m not that person and he sucks.” Running against somebody else is never as effective as running for something else. How will your years of experience as a physician translate to being an elected official? How will your policies help Utahans? What actually makes you a better alternative than the status quo? These are the questions that people will need to know in order to vote for you. You need to convince 30% more of the voters in your district that you are the better alternative. People don’t vote in a vacuum. If their life is relatively good, they aren’t going to upset the status quo simply because the unknown is scary.

I honestly hope that you can make it to November 2018. And if you happen to be facing off against Representative Chaffetz, I will do everything in my limited power to help. But Chaffetz might be running for Senate (if Hatch decides to retire), or might even get defeated at the convention by a capable Republican challenger. But it feels disingenuous to raise money in the way you currently are when there isn’t a ballot printed in the State of Utah that has either of your names on it. I am glad that people are passionate about you and your campaign, because this country needs passion in its politics. But it’s time to turn your attention to Utah and stop worrying about gathering money from everywhere else.


Robert Eberhard
Fellow Utah Democrat


4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to @kathrynallenmd

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