Divine Strake Hearing Comments

Some have asked for the commentary I gave at the governor’s Divine Strake hearing. I didn’t give that commentary from written material, so I had to wait for the transcript to come through. Thanks to Sherry Milne for her efforts in emailing me the transcript.

My name is Pete Ashdown, and I am not an elected official.

I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight. This is an important part of this process. As I have looked at Divine Strake over the past two years, I have always asked one question. I always see the Department of Defense and the DTRA saying, If we can do this, we’ll know this. But what I never see them doing is asking, “Why are we doing this?”

Saddam Hussein came out of a ten_foot hole. Adolph Hitler, which had the __ he had the backing of a nation behind him, came out of a 30_foot bunker. And he came out all by himself. So I went to the DTRA session, the information session, and I asked __ I asked Why are we doing this? And they had the great posters __ I don’t know if some of you saw __ that bunkers are a growing threat. Well, it seems to me that the growing threat are teenagers using cell phones and fertilizer to blow up our troops, not build bunkers with alien technology.

And I said, What’s wrong with dropping a five_ton bomb on the hole to the bunker so you can’t get access to the materials inside, and whatever is inside can’t get out?

Well, we want to destroy what’s inside too. Why? Well, it could be uncovered. They could remove the dirt. They could get it out. Who are we fighting? How can they do this? How can they avoid our spy satellites? How can they avoid our predator drones and use earth movers to uncover their bunkers? It’s baloney. It’s pure baloney. It’s military masturbation, and I’m tired of being forced to watch it.

When it comes to nuclear weapons, the United States is the chain smoker telling the rest of the world to quit. It starts today. We do not need nuclear weapons, and I will say it again. Senator Hatch, stop this test. I applaud Governor Huntsman for the opportunity to speak without being arrested. But I want Governor Huntsman to know that I will get arrested if this test goes forward, and I challenge Governor Huntsman to join me and thousands of other Utahns who will walk out on that range and get arrested so this test does not happen.

Thank you very much.

Today is the last day you can send in commentary on Divine Strake. You can send email or postal. Your letter must be postmarked the 7th. More information here on KTVX’s website.

Thank You America

This is the text of the speech I delivered late election night:

My deepest thanks to all of Utah and America for the friendship, the time, and the effort that thousands have put into my campaign. It has been a deeply humbling experience to have carried your hopes.

Thank you to my staff for the long hours and their creativity.

Thank you to my brothers and sisters for cheering me on.

Thank you to my 81-year-old father for his consistent boosterism and for having to crawl under that bucket of bolts 1976 motorhome repeatedly to keep it running.

Thank you to my kids and my wife.

I ran this race the best way I knew how. With honor. With integrity. Instead of pointing the finger at the numerous failures of my opponent and telling people to vote for me because I am not him, I told America what I could do. I gave clear plans, instead of muddled rhetoric.

  • Accountability
  • Communication
  • Representation
  • The Constitution
  • and Peace

Simple concepts, yet so rare.
These ideals are what I believe in.
These ideals will save America.
These ideals are timeless and worth fighting for.

I believe in America’s future.
Over the past 18 months, I have seen the heart of Utah.
I have seen the spirit of Democracy.
I have peered into the souls of the founders and drawn on their courage.

I have often reflected upon Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence. Imagine what that was like. Jefferson did not know his document would found a nation that would last much beyond his lifetime. He most likely believed he would be hanging from the highest tree before the end of the year. People have told me what I have done is courageous, but running for office holds no compare to what Jefferson and others did.

I merely wanted to make things better. I looked at our government and found nobody that I admired. No vision, no courage, no leadership. I ran because I knew I could do better.

People from all over this country and planet have written me telling of their support for my campaign. They lament that there is no Pete Ashdown in their state. No Pete Ashdown in their country. If there is one message I want everyone to remember in this campaign, it is we are all the change we wish to make. The only important requirement is your will.

Stand up.
Run for office.
And I will help you.

I want to thank all the Republicans and Independents who looked at what I stand for, crossed party lines, and realized I was a candidate worth voting for.

I am bruised, but I am not beaten.
I am down, but I am not defeated.
This election is over, BUT I AM NOT DONE.

This is not the end of money and politics.
This is not the end of lobbyist control of Washington.
This is not the end of the American people being shut out of government.
It is the beginning of the end.

This is the beginning of a return to protecting the Constitution.
This is the beginning of efficient government.
This is the beginning of citizen participation.
This is the beginning of making our representatives accountable.

This is the beginning of taking back America.

What a Ballot Looks Like

Pete's BallotMy wife Robin and I voted this morning and we asked for paper ballots. Being a candidate with a computer background causes a frequent question about voting that I happily answer, “Paper and pencil.”

Sometimes the best solution is the simplest. The Canadians vote on paper ballots and are able to count their national votes in around four hours.

There has been news of problems with machines throughout Utah. If you encounter a polling location that is having problems, it is the law that the poll workers give you a provisional ballot. Do not take “No” for an answer! Whether or not you ask for a paper ballot at a polling location with working machines is up to you.

If you do not know your polling location in Utah, go to this website. If you need help getting to the polls, drop me an email or call the campaign office at 801-983-7383.

Most of all, VOTE! Let your voice be heard!

Salt Lake Tribune

The last opinion piece I submitted to the Salt Lake Tribune went unanswered for a week before I put it on my blog. I wrote a response to their endorsement of Senator Hatch and it was greeted with the same silence. Realizing time was of the essence, I emailed the editor and called their Reader Advocate. Last night, I received a call from Vern Anderson informing me that the Salt Lake Tribune does not publish opinion pieces from candidates. Not only that, the letter my wife wrote correcting Matt Canham’s mistaken statement that, my “friends and family told (me my campaign) was a waste of (my) time”, would also not be published.

So here once again is an Internet exclusive.

Seniority does not serve America. Seniority serves the interests of senior politicians. While public education is crumbling, our ports and borders are no more secure than they were on 9/11, our veterans ignored, and millions suffer and die without regular health care, I am ashamed that pork takes priority over fundamental need. It is with pleasure that I pledge to destroy the seniority system to return a balance of government interest to the people and help level the playing field for fair elections.

Orrin Hatch claims you should vote for him because of seniority. He states the Democrats are weak on security, that he is fiscally conservative and committed to small government. That in spite of obstructionist Democrats, only he displays the leadership which can serve Utah.

Where is Senator Hatch’s concern for national security when he displayed more self-promotion than national protection by spilling the details of secret intelligence monitoring of Osama bin Laden within hours of the attacks on September 11th? I do not believe the Republican nor the Democratic party has a desire for weak security, but Senator Hatch has demonstrated he is a security risk all on his own.

Where is the fiscal responsibility when Senator Hatch does not show restraint in securing a lavish $100 million for an expansion to the Utah Federal Courthouse? This is a project which will literally move a building across a street, raze a popular nightspot “Port o’ Call”, and replace a characteristic portion of Salt Lake’s downtown with an enormous “Justice Cube” eyesore. Expensive, out of place, and useless, this will be an appropriate tribute to pork and the Senator who secured it.

Where is Senator Hatch’s leadership when he begs Utahns to petition the Bureau of Land Management to keep nuclear waste out of Utah? True leadership does not require thousands of citizen letters to communicate the obvious. Last I checked, Congress was in charge of the BLM and not the other way around.

I do not require 30 years to get traction in Washington. In Orrin Hatch’s first term, this country grappled with many of the same problems we confront today. Energy prices, Mid-East turmoil, terrorism, child predators, and education were all primary concerns in 1976 as they are today in 2006. Why has Hatch’s mantra of “18 years is long enough” been extended to a need for 36? Who, but those elected representatives who have legislated through the past five administrations, should take responsibility for today’s crushing debt, imbalanced budgets and global instability?

According to Senator Hatch, the Democrats are to shoulder all of the blame for his inability to resolve America’s problems. I reach out to all Utahns, regardless of their political beliefs, and it is in the spirit of bringing our country together, that I set about to solve this nation’s gravest problems. Blaming his ineffectiveness on Democratic obstructionism does nothing except highlight his continual demonization of anyone who does not hold the same philosophy as he.

For every failure, there is opportunity. I have a plan for a better America and I have been executing it throughout this campaign. I have demonstrated how I will hold myself and the government accountable to the people. I have displayed the ability and the commitment to secure consensus and advice. I am committed to fiscal conservatism, limited government, and constitutional respect.

I have a vision for the future of our nation. Senator Hatch questioned me on the need for rapid rail throughout rural America in a recent debate. According to his opinion, it is too hard and too expensive. Thank goodness this man wasn’t in charge when we built the intercontinental railway, dammed the Colorado river, split the atom, established highways, and went to the moon. America desperately needs new vision and the leadership to execute it.

Barack Obama has been heralded as a new star in the Senate and is already under consideration for the presidency. All this in his FIRST term. Utah has an opportunity with this race that no amount of seniority can justify passing up. I pray the electorate will give careful consideration to what I stand for, my character, and what I have already done for Utah.

Houston We Have A Problem

One of my favorite sayings is do not attribute to conspiracy what can be explained by incompetence. Many people have asked me what I think of voting machines and my answer is simple, we need to go back to paper and pencil and do distributed counting in precincts with multi-partisan oversight.

This came in from Sanpete County today:

When I went to vote, I was so pissed off at Republicans that I voted straight ticket Democrat and didn’t vote for ANY Republican – I left the screen blank when Republicans were running unchallenged. However, when I pressed the screen for a straight party Democrat vote, the paper in the machine printed out a Republican ticket. At the time I thought I was looking at someone else’s vote, since I’m in a heavily Republican district. But the more I think about it, the more I feel that the machines are printing a straight ticket Republican vote for every straight ticket Democrat vote cast without showing anything onscreen except a slight flicker as if you hadn’t hit the touch screen right. If the standard spiel from the Republicans is that this kind of thing is an alignment issue between the touch screen and the computer, then why would the machine allow me to vote twice – once the unauthorized Republican ticket, and once my actual Democratic ticket? And it’s obvious that a vote pattern like that cancels out my vote. Even if I was just seeing the vote for the prior voter, isn’t that still a breach of the confidential voting process?

The person at the County Clerk’s office did ask me if anything went wrong with my voting, and at the time I didn’t think anything about it and I told her no, but now I’m thinking something seriously weird is going on with our voting machines here in Utah. So I thought I should give you a heads up to look into the matter. If the paper trails show a straight party Republican ticket for every straight party Democratic vote – or for a suspiciously high number of them – immediately adjacent to each other, then we have serious problems with the voting systems in Utah. The County Clerks should be able to do a brief audit of the early voting results to see if this pattern emerges.

I imagined this had a possibility of being user error, then someone sent me this story.

When you vote, please look for similar irregularities.

Seeing Utah

Milky Way
Driving back from Callao, Utah on a moonless night, I looked out my driver’s side window and saw lights on the mountain in the distance. I struggled to understand why the mountains were sparkled with tiny dots, then I realized I was looking at the stars.

I stopped the car at the side of the road, turned off the ignition, and stepped outside into the darkness. The sky hit my eyes like a power chord from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. It had been many years since I was far away enough from a city or traffic to actually see the milky way.

Suddenly it all came back to me. This was the end of a journey that had started in the spring of 2005. Travelling town to town, learning more, understanding Utah.

Callao was spectacular. I had never visited a town so small, yet overwhelmingly beautiful. Unpaved streets, no municipality, no police force, a one-room schoolhouse, and the most serene desert landscape you can imagine. Fighting for their very existence against the state of Nevada who wishes to drain their home of what little water exists for lawns in Las Vegas. A drilling exercise that would be suitable for an episode of the Simpsons if it weren’t so tragic. These committed Utahns continue their battle in spite of an ignorant congressional delegation that claims it is “conservative”. If this small group’s way of life is not deserving of conservation, then I have a hard time understanding exactly what is being conserved.

They talked to me about water, but then they told me so much more. The teacher of 19 years told me her dozen or so students are held to “No Child Left Behind” standards, which they can not meet because one child is autistic. They spoke of the war, the economy, energy, agriculture, ranching, and the fact that they have been promised fast Internet, but still have to rely on dial-up. I was taken aback that although they were geographically remote, they were in no way distant.

Their plight reminded me of one of the first campaign trips I took, to Bicknell, Torrey, and Teasdale. I went to campaign, but I also wanted to see BIFF, a decade long film festival that is more party than cinematic expose. At the closing night bash, I was introduced to a supportive audience and had a fine time. As I was leaving the party, a man called out to me, “Hey! Ashdown!” I turned to meet him. He worked for the local municipal electric company and told amazing tales of reliable service and rates that hadn’t changed in nearly a decade. I thanked him for his interest in the campaign and said goodbye. As I turned to my car, he said one more thing that will stay with me forever.

“When you win, don’t forget about us. Don’t forget about the little guy.”

I haven’t and I won’t.

Praise and Criticism

A small discussion erupted in comments on my daughter’s YouTube commercial. Since YouTube limits responses to 500 characters, I decided to respond here.

I’m sorry the ad offended you.

At the beginning of October, I joined Sgt. Marshall Thompson through Davis County on his protest walk through the state. It has also been my honor to talk with many returning GI’s and stand for their voices. It is all too easy for many to discard what these men and women say, but I deeply value their perspective. I have spent time with them, attended funerals, and spoken publicly for taking care of them logistically now and after they return.

I hope you have taken the time to read my online journal, look at my press releases, read interviews with me, and watch the debates. Frankly, I started this 30 second commercial on a serious tone and realized that nobody would care and it would just be written off as another candidate yakking about what all candidates yak about. In fact, I recorded six of these style of commercials and got next to no response. The press releases I have written on serious topics like decrying acceptance of torture as an interrogation tactic have been ignored wholesale by the press. However if I paint my old motorhome, hold a benefit dinner for the hungry, do something different, something unique, everyone is all over it. “American Idol” vs. “Frontline”, what is more popular?

The radio version of this has already received extra press and is being passed around, and that is the goal. When you’re on a tight budget, it is creativity and guerrilla tactics that get you attention, not the same old recipe that Democrats have been losing on for years.

“You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” This is never truer than for a candidate. I consistently receive praise and criticism from all sides. I take it all in, respond to as much of it as I can, then try to do what my heart tells me is right.

On the Record

Last week I personally canvassed much of Beaver, Emery and Carbon counties. Many other volunteers have been working to do the same in Salt Lake, Cache, Davis, Utah, and Washington counties. It has been energizing to meet so many good people going door to door and hear their concerns that seem to usually be swept under the rug by government.

Chris Vanocur conducted an informal debate last Wednesday which was broadcast this Sunday on his show, “On the Record”. If you missed it, here is an online recording. When your entire life seems to be leading up to a single day in November, all the months seem to blend into November. Pardon the gaff.

On the other hand, when you don’t know the Senate Banking Committee are who reported shipments of anthrax and botulism to Iraq in the 80’s, and you can remember your words against immigration amnesty in 1984, but not why Iraq was taken off the list of terrorist nations in 1982, I suppose mixing up a month is much more forgivable.

KUTV will be conducting a live debate at their studios on Main Street between 2nd and 3rd South at 6:30 PM on Tuesday. It will be conducted outside weather permitting. Arrive by 6:00 PM and bring warm clothing and your “Ashdown for Senate” t-shirts!

On a lighter note, watch me cook enchiladas on KSL’s “Studio 5”. 10,000 calorie per serving recipe is here.

Finally, if you can bear tunes getting stuck in your head, here is the campaign jingle being run as a 30 second commercial spot. If you really like it, you can join my daughter Madeleine by making it your ringtone.