Some voters in Utah's 2nd Congressional District, if they have not been paying strict attention, may walk into the voting booth Nov. 6 and be frustrated to find that the name of their longtime representative, Jim Matheson, does not appear on their ballot. Redistricting and political expediency encouraged the six-term congressman, long the only Democrat in the state's delegation, to move over to the newly created 4th District.
Voters who were prepared to return Matheson to Congress can do themselves a favor by voting instead for Jay Seegmiller, a former member of the Utah Legislature and a Democrat very much in the Matheson mold.
Seegmiller, whose day job has been working for railroads for many years, would fit right in with the pro-business, fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats exemplified by Matheson. And that's good because, with the increasing polarization of U.S. politics in general and Congress in particular, the number of relatively conservative Democrats mostly from the West and South and relatively liberal Republicans mostly from the Northeast has been rapidly shrinking, depriving Congress of the middle ground that is necessary to solve most of our problems.
The Sandy resident's campaign is so focused on efforts to revitalize the economy that his website is called "jayforjobs.com." But, rather than the stereotypical cant of Democrats who simply seek to put more people on the public payroll, Seegmiller advocates for tax reforms, export promotion and other policies that, he contends, will increase the number of taxpayers, boost government revenue and help attack the federal deficit as they shore up Social Security.
Seegmiller also stresses a balanced approach to energy development, one that would be open to all sources but never sell out the environment.
Seegmiller's plan includes a temporary tax cut for corporations that would encourage them to bring home the billions of dollars they have socked away in foreign bank accounts, pay tax on the money and put it to work building facilities and hiring workers in this country.
The Republican nominee in the 2nd District is Chris Stewart, a businessman, author and Air Force pilot whose enterprise and patriotism cannot be questioned. But Stewart's paper trail includes several popular books that present an alternative, supernatural, view that puts him more in the camp of such extremist oddballs as radio's Glenn Beck and somewhat beyond the American, even Utah's, mainstream.
Voters in the 2nd District would be much more grounded to send Jay Seegmiller to Congress.