Jones: A totally awesome candidate

Published March 27, 2010 5:55 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Just when you thought Gov. Gary Herbert was a shoo-in to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination, look, up in the sky.

It's a loon. It's a dodo. Yup. It's "Super" Dell Schanze on his motorized paraglider, here to rescue us from a boring election and to fight for truth, justice and the American way -- specifically fast cars, big guns, small government.

Schanze, former owner and foaming mouthpiece of Totally Awesome Computers, Totally Awesome Internet Service and Totally Awesome Guns, is seeking the GOP nomination. And he thinks he'd make a totally awesome governor, assuming he can stay out of jail. I'm not convinced.

The citizen and taxpayer in me wants a governor who wears pin stripes, not stripes.

And, as a former reporter, I take offense at "Super" Dell's characterization of the Fourth Estate as rife with "liars, murderers and agents of Satan." The old stereotype -- hyperbolizers, drunks and agents of Obama -- is less harsh, and probably more accurate.

But, as a columnist, there's a lot to like about a governor who inspires ideas for columns that write themselves.

If you're groaning, forgive me. (Full disclosure: I was never subjected to the "Super" Dell treatment -- the tacky billboards, the self-righteous infomercials, the grating radio ads that played for a decade on an endless loop. I don't know what you've been through.)

By the time I got to Utah, Schanze had sold his gun shop, closed his computer stores and quit cutting commercials. To me, he's just some guy who keeps getting arrested and losing elections, but can't seem to make the connection between the two.

Then I read this newspaper's "Super" Dell archives in their entirety -- 119 stories, thousands upon thousands of words. If you're a Republican delegate, I suggest you do the same before you vote at the convention.

It's a success story. Schanze opened his first computer outlet in 1996, and by 2003, the self-made millionaire owned nine stores.

It's a love story. "Super" Dell is smitten with firearms. If a woman asks Schanze if that's a gun in his pocket, the answer is invariably "yes."

And it's a crime drama -- Schanze pulls a gun on road ragers, Schanze buzzes I-15 traffic on his paraglider, Schanze has a rap sheet twice as long as his Glock, Schanze ...

Plus, the third grader in you will giggle. Schanze is quoted using such gubernatorial-sounding words as "doo-doo," "gashole" and "shiffer brains."

But in the end, it's a documentary of a disaster: An empire falls, collapsed by the weight of an overinflated ego.

And, for voters, it's a cautionary tale.

The archives reveal that the private sector's loss was also the public sector's loss. With his businesses shuttered, Schanze turned to politics, and turned on the charm.

In his first bid for governor -- he ran as a Libertarian in 2008 -- he called incumbent Gov. Jon Huntsman an "anti-Christ socialist" and accused Democratic challenger Bob Springmeyer of exhibiting the same respect for the Constitution that Schanze shows for the criminal code.

Next, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Saratoga Springs, and noted on his blog that one of his opponents, Jeff Francom, has an "evil countenance."

"You have to create craziness to keep their attention," Schanze once said, when asked to describe his advertising philosophy.

Apparently, he applies the same logic to campaigning. Here's hoping we never have to learn how he governs.

E-mail Jones at cjones@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">cjones@sltrib.com

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