Andrew McCullough's Blog

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Andrew McCullough for Utah Attorney General 2016

April 21, 2016 Everyone knows that Utah is basically a one party state. The full weight of that knowledge, however, did not occur to me until I recently started working on my first financial report for the elections office for the 2016 election season. As I prepared my own report, showing very little financial activity so far, I had occasion to look at the financial situation of my Republican and Democratic opponents. The current attorney general, Sean Reyes, has received many multi-thousand dollar campaign contributions from large corporations and large law firms. He also reported $250,000 left over from his previous campaign two years ago.

Our Democratic opponent, Jon Harper, filed a report showing $20,000 in contributions, mostly from his own family. Mr. Harper does not yet have a web site; and his Facebook page was started on April 14. I am not criticizing or making fun of the Democratic candidate. I am merely pointing out, that at least at this early date, the disparity in resources and the level of effort makes it very clear, at least at this early stage, that there really will not be an election for attorney general in Utah this year, but simply a coronation. Mr. Reyes will spend whatever is necessary, and nobody else will be heard.

That is a sad situation. The democratic process thrives on an open debate and a free exchange of ideas. There will be none of that in the 2016 election cycle. Nobody really has much of a choice. The die is already cast.

So, if you have read this far, you are wondering why I even bother to be a candidate. I don’t have a lot of resources, and I don’t have any illusions of victory. In the past, organizations who might otherwise support my view on the issues have automatically endorsed the Democratic candidate on the assumption that he has a better chance of winning. It should be perfectly clear at this point that Mr. Harper does not have a better chance of winning. His lack of activity so far signals that he is aware of that himself. But there is still substantial value in doing what we can to give the people a choice, and making an effort to be heard. The current attorney general is a strong religious conservative. During the recent Court actions over same sex marriage, he made that most obvious. At great expense to the taxpayers, he hired a team of LDS attorneys from out of state to make the argument that marriage is not about individual love, but is designed for raising children. In making that argument, he appeared to discount the value of marriage between older people who cannot raise children, as well as those who might have medical problems. He simply failed to recognize the whole concept of enduring love between two individuals of whatever sex. That just didn’t seem so important.

The current Attorney General wants to preserve the drug war, and apparently thinks that putting more people in jail will actually remove drugs from society. He ignores the fact that the whole thing has been a total failure since Richard Nixon first declared it. The continued arrest and detention of marijuana users in particular is a travesty of justice. Our side will win this war. The days of marijuana prohibition are numbered. But I am the only candidate for Attorney General who will say this. Possession and use of marijuana needs to be decriminalized, and it needs to be done now. Not only does the current Attorney General vigorously defend this irrational criminal scheme, but he regularly uses it as grounds to remove children from their parents. Nobody with any common sense still believes that this is good policy. But, once again, I am the only candidate who will come out and say it.

In the recent legislative session, the current Attorney General opposed civil forfeiture reform, endorsing “policing for profit” which deprives people due process of law. His general support for “Law and order” brings us closer to a police state.

At the very least, it is important that those who dissent from the 19th century views of the current administration make as much noise as possible. Marriage equality is here to stay, and nobody can stop that. Legalization of marijuana, at least for medical purposes is inevitable. Change will come, despite what the current attorney general and his allies may do to try and stop it. We can encourage change, we can help it move along and we can change the nature of the debate. Please join me in doing what we can to be heard. Make a contribution if you can. Tell your friends and neighbors the good news. Help us put up signs, pass out literature, and use social media to spread the word. The Republican Party’s immense financial and organizational advantage can be slowly eroded, if we work at it. We cannot expect anyone else, such as the Democrats, to do it for us. Utah Democrats don’t promote much of an alternative view anyway. Do what you can. We have nothing to lose but our chains.


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