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Rolly: The art of smearing political opponents in Utah
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Besides being Republican, what do U.S. Senate candidate Dan Liljenquist, State House District 27 candidate Mike Kennedy and State Sen. Casey Anderson have in common?

They all have been attacked in the final days of the primary election campaign with the exact same mailer, with an identical image of what appears to be some kind of self-appointed Messiah standing above the people. The mailer's text says that Liljenquist, Kennedy, Anderson — fill in the blank — wants to take away your right to vote for U.S. senator and give it to the Legislature.

All three do support a repeal of 17th Amendment, which changed the election of senators from the votes of state legislatures to direct popular elections, but the text and image is dramatized to the point of demonizing the targeted candidate.

What else do Liljenquist, Kennedy and Anderson have in common?

Their opponents — Sen. Orrin Hatch, Sarah Nitta and Rep. Evan Vickers, respectively — have political consultant/direct mail specialist Jason Powers on their payroll.

Coincidence?

I wrote recently about Powers' tactics and his direct mail attacks against Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, that mostly focused on a bill he sponsored five years ago and are funded by a group Powers went to great pains to keep anonymous. I mentioned other tricks by Powers in the past intended to discredit opponents of his clients.

I recently learned about the experience of former Republican Rep. Sheryl Allen of Bountiful. She was in a primary several years ago and Powers was the paid hit man for her opponent.

A lawn sign supporting her opponent, Don Guymon, was displayed about two blocks from her home on a busy street. Near the date of the primary election, a hand painted sign went up on the property with the accusation that the home was being egged by Allen or her supporters because of the Guymon sign.

Allen had no knowledge of any egging incident, but after the election, she stopped at the home to express her regret and to explain that she had nothing to do with the egging. The renter of the home was Jason Powers' sister. She told Allen that she had not been egged, and her brother had put up the hand-painted sign without her permission. She apologized to Allen.

Ain't politics great?

Representative sweet tooth • If Merrill Nelson is able to defeat incumbent State Rep. Bill Wright in the Republican Primary and go on to win the seat in House District 68, legislative staffers would be wise to keep plenty of cupcakes in the pantry.

Nelson, who forced Wright into the primary at the State Republican Convention in April, served in the Legislature during the early 1990s and, while I'm sure he was an accomplished and dedicated lawmaker, I remember him for one colorful incident.

I wrote in February, 1992, about Nelson's rant at a young legislative page.

The Utah Foundation for Visual Awareness brought cupcakes for legislators one day, a nice little freebie. And, believe me, legislators were used to getting their freebies.

But when the cupcakes were passed around, the legislative page assigned to Nelson's area was busy passing out bills. Nelson wasn't happy and demanded his cupcake. The page was reduced to tears.

Rep. Dave Adams, R-Monticello, came to the rescue. He rounded up enough extra cupcakes to satisfy Nelson's growling stomach and give one to the shaken page, to make her feel better.

prolly@sltrib.com

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