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Profile: U.S. Senate Candidate Pete Ashdown

Founder of XMission says he relates more to college students than Hatch, the long-time incumbent

By: Jess Cummings, staff writer

Pete Ashdown is up to more lately than bringing free wireless Internet to all. Ashdown, founder and CEO of XMission, Utah’s first independent and oldest Internet service provider, is the democratic candidate running against 30-year republican incumbent Orrin Hatch for the U.S. Senate.

Ashdown, who, among many locations, brought free wireless Internet to the downtown library and the Gallivan Center, is largely basing his campaign on the same communication medium as the one he advocates.

Ashdown has tapped into the realms of MySpace and set up a collaborative “wiki” site on Wikipedia where he has “gotten some of the best ideas for [his] campaign.” On the site ( readers can get involved; adding comments and offering suggestions for his campaign.

Ashdown wants to use this technology if elected to Senate so he can better serve his constituents through a communication system that provides immediacy.

“Most senate races are old guy versus old guy and students don’t have a lot to relate to the candidate,” Ashdown said. “I relate to their issues more socially.” Ashdown has a distinct understanding of the Internet, expensive gas and the rising cost of tuition.

Mike Friberg, Westminster junior, said “I like that he listens to people, even college students.” Whether meeting with two or 2,000 people, Ashdown is happy to oblige. Ashdown spoke at Friberg’s May Term class, Election Campaign Simulation, and spoke with a dozen students about politics and answered questions students had about his campaign. “He is reasonable and not jaded like a lot of other politicians,” Friberg said.

Among his many goals, Ashdown wants to use “new technologies like Wiki blogs and instant message to empower the individual’s voice.” He has a driving energy policy, which, he said, would help students buy cheaper gas. And he wants more focus on education. “I look at the money overseas and see that we would have a first class education, we need to adjust grants for students and have more money available at low interest,” Ashdown said.

Urban Outfitters, a clothing company, recently released a shirt reads “Voting is for old people.” Ashdown rebutted the saying. He said that while students may think their voice doesn’t matter in elections on a national level, voting in state races is important. “It is utterly critical that people realize that their vote does count,” he said, as many state races are very close and are decided between a few percents.

Friberg agrees. “I think that shirt is absolutely asinine! It is important for our age group to vote, because we tend to be the most vocal group that votes the least.” He added, “We need to follow through especially in state elections where our voice really counts.”

Ashdown hopes to change the Electoral College and use the popular vote so that all individual votes count on a national level.

Also, he believes that he is the right choice for Utah, “If you want to know what kind of Congressman I’ll be look at what kind of businessman I am.” He added, “I put [my constituents’] needs above my own.”

For more information on where you can vote or anything else voter related go to To learn more about Ashdown’s campaign visit his site (Pete Ashdown).

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