Guest editorial |

Guest editorial

Kraig Powell, Utah House of Representatives District 53,

April 20, I withdrew my candidacy for Utah House of Representatives. I owe the voters an explanation of this decision that my wife Kim and I reached after much turmoil and introspection.

During my eight years in office, I have tried to act in a manner that brings people of differing views together. As I studied the nature of the upcoming primary campaign in this House district, and the existing tone of politics in our country generally, I realized that the current political party system lends itself to extreme positions and negative attacks. From dozens of conversations with people all over my district, I could see that this campaign was going to be not only pointed but divisive.

Against my better judgment, I myself had already begun to join in the insults and name-calling that quickly were beginning to characterize this race. We are still a relatively small and close-knit community. We go to school and church and the grocery store together. Kim and I concluded that we were not comfortable pitting our friends and neighbors against each other for the next two months in bitter arguments over who is a real Republican.

My service in the legislature, though rewarding, has exacted a large toll on my family and work responsibilities. My son Benjamin is getting married right in the middle of the primary election season in June. My best friend, loving companion, and heroic campaign manager for all these years needs to use her physical and mental energies right now on responsibilities that are more meaningful than throwing and dousing political flames. My clients in my law practice demand and deserve more attention over the next 10 weeks than I would be able to give them while running what I know from experience would be an all-day, every-day political campaign.

Another factor weighing on our minds was that wealthy, ideological interest groups from out of state have begun to insert themselves with force in local political campaigns. Their first expensive mailers and door hangers with negative, simplistic sound bites attacking my less-conservative brand of politics arrived at thousands of homes in my district last week. Because I do not accept campaign contributions from lobbyists, corporations or special interest groups, I could see that personally spreading my more nuanced message to thousands of voters would be very difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Simply stated, for all of the above reasons, Kim and I concluded that waging this type of campaign at this time was not feasible or prudent for our family or our community.

I deeply and truly apologize to my constituents for not recognizing these realities earlier so that other people could run in my place. I alone am responsible for the detrimental void that I have left in the political system this election cycle. I know that the Republican challenger in this race firmly subscribes to the libertarian principles that he espouses, and that he is doing what he believes is right. Although I disagree with many of his views, I commend him for articulating them. If he is elected in November, he will begin to develop a record that the citizens of this House district can judge. Then, in future primary campaigns, possibly at a time when our country is not so politically heated and polarized, I hope that other people in our community will step up to conduct a rational dialogue about just how conservative Republican policies should be.

I thank all the voters of this district for their heartfelt support to me over the years, and I wish the two remaining candidates in this race a substantive, civil and fruitful campaign.

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