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In this Sunday Edition, KSL 5's Bruce Lindsay sat down with Congressman Jim Matheson and Claudia Wright for a conversation about the upcoming Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District. Incumbent Matheson is seeking his sixth term, while Wright is hoping to win her first term in office.
Matheson and Wright were given the opportunity to make an opening statement
Matheson: "You know me. You know that in my time in office I've always put Utah first, and I am proud of the fact that I approach every issue with the notion of solving problems and making progress. I've listened to people in Utah and they've helped guide me in how to make progress on issues. So whether it's stopping foreign radioactive waste from coming to Utah or whether it's resolving very contentious public lands issues and moving the first major BLM wilderness legislation in 25 years. Whether it's standing up for Utahns who are looking for jobs in this down economy, as the only member of our delegation who would vote for the stimulus package, I always put Utah first. I value the relationship that we have. Thank you for your help in making me such a good congressman by your input. I look forward to your vote this Tuesday."
You know me. You know that in my time in office I've always put Utah first, and I am proud of the fact that I approach every issue with the notion of solving problems and making progress.
Wright: "I am running for Congress because I believe that the people come first. Not the lobbyist, certainly not the corporations, not the banks, not Wall Street. I believe that a different kind of politics is possible. One that replaces dollars with citizen engagement. One that allows elections to be publicly financed and making our representatives accountable only to their constituents and not to the next election or the dollar. I believe that I have traveled all over the state, talked to many people and have become increasingly aware of the unique nature of the different communities in Utah. I would hope that you would find it in your hearts to support me." Both respond to claims Matheson is no longer liberal enough
Wright: "I believe that in fact over the past decade, my opponent has moved consistently to the right. He has in fact kind of disenfranchised himself from his base. I believe that was made very evident in the mass meetings March 23, when his representatives across the state were heckled and booed. I believe that that had to be a terrible day in his political career and I don't think he was aware until that day how far from the base he had moved. So I think it is time to reexamine this. Take a good close look and see if this is the kind of representative you want to have."
I believe that a different kind of politics is possible. One that replaces dollars with citizen engagement. One that allows elections to be publicly financed and making our representatives accountable only to their constituents and not to the next election or the dollar.
Matheson: "It's easy to throw out generalized statements. The facts just don't bear it out. One thing I've always been proud of in my career in public service is that I've told people that I am what I am. I run on the politics and the values and the approach I learned from my mom and dad. I've told people, you know you shouldn't expect to agree with me on every issue, but you should expect that I am going to take a thoughtful and common sense approach to every issue. I think that's what I've done. And for the vast majority of folks in our state, I think they know that and they are comfortable with it. I think we got to be real careful about just making general statements about ‘Oh he's moved to the left or moved to the right.' It's funny. The Republicans say I am too far to the left. We have some folks in the Democratic Party saying I am too far to the right. But I think I've been pretty consistent all along. I am happy to engage on any issue you want to talk about. This notion there's been some change, I just don't buy it." The candidates also weighed in on the health care reform bill, what's necessary to win the November election, public financing for elections, capital punishment and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
The New York Times recently published an article about Utah's 2nd District Congressional race. Both candidates were asked how it could affect voter turnout on Tuesday
Wright: "I think first of all we've gone out and tried to get underrepresented Democratic areas to the polls. [We're] trying to infuse the party with new blood and people that haven't been participating in the electoral process. I believe that in fact, Republicans are out there with a Senate race that needs to be determined. I truly believe that registered Republicans in closed primary are going to vote in that race."
Matheson: "I am concerned about that kind of mischief. We've had websites created where if you type in my name it takes you to a Conservatives for my opponent's website. No one's taking responsibility for it. I think that's wrong, and I think, I suspect that some mischief is being played out there to try to generate turnout, because they know that gives the Republican the best chance to win in November."
The candidates also discussed Arizona's immigration law, illegal immigrants in the U.S., tax cuts and unemployment.
Each candidate offered a closing remark
Matheson: "Well again, I always enjoy having the chance to meet with constituents and get their ideas. Their ideas have been what's made me a better congressman. All of my legislative proposals, all of my achievements about solving problems and getting things done for Utah, we've worked together to get it done. So whether it's banning foreign radioactive waste, whether it's moving our economy ahead, whether it's solving wilderness issues in Washington County or it's getting a new wilderness bill for Salt Lake County and the Wasatch Canyons, I always put Utah first. And again I ask for your support this Tuesday."
Wright: "I would like to explain that I am here because I believe that a different politics is possible, one by engaged citizens. And I do believe that in fact if elected, I would like to hold in person town meetings so that I can see my constituents face-to-face, know when they're happy, know when they're unhappy, know when in fact they are indifferent. I think it is part of the obligation of the congressperson to inform, to explain and certainly to listen. And I appreciate the citizens of Utah and their support. Thank you."