Our campaign has come to a close but the hard work and support of so many friends and volunteers will never be forgotten.
Please accept my heartfelt thanks, and the thanks of my entire campaign staff, for all you did to carry our message of hope and change. We stood shoulder to shoulder fighting for better-funded schools, the protection of Hill Air Force Base, the preservation of Utah’s pristine environment, a statewide non-discrimination law, ethics reform, healthcare for seniors and the under-served, and government transparency.
And our voices were heard. Following Tuesday’s election, The Salt Lake Tribune wrote back-to-back editorials urging Gov. Herbert to clean up the state’s “management flaws” and show leadership on the ill-advised land grab, the Affordable Care Act, and air quality improvement – issues at the core of our campaign.
In many ways, our work has just begun to bring these Democratic ideals to the forefront of Utah politics; ideals that most Utahns share. We’ve driven the dialogue on these important issues and will continue to keep them in the forefront until satisfactory solutions are found. The time for action is now. There is still work to be done. Please join me in the months ahead as we continue to fight for a better Utah and lay the groundwork for real change in 2014 and beyond.
With deep appreciation,
Peter S. Cooke
and the Cooke for Governor campaign staff
The governorship of Utah now belongs to Gary Herbert. No longer the man who dropped into office when Jon Huntsman left office to become ambassador to China, the Republican chief executive Tuesday won his own full four-year term in office by a comfortable margin over retired Gen. Peter Cooke.
The attorney general’s office also remained in Republican hands, as the hand-picked successor to outgoing A.G. Mark Shurtleff, John Swallow, cruised to an easy victory over Weber County prosecutor Dee Smith. This is troubling, given Swallow’s history of being a supplicant to questionable businesses such as the payday loan shops. But it is what it is.
Meanwhile, Salt Lake County showed itself to be a Democratic island in an overwhelmingly Republican state. That’s where Ben McAdams, one of the few Democrats in the Utah Senate and an aide to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, defeated Republican Mark Crockett. With that, McAdams becomes the de facto leader of the party in Utah and a name to watch if the party is to spread its influence beyond the county in years to come.
Herbert now has a full four years, and an overwhelming Republican majority in the Utah Legislature, to put forth an agenda that is more than being a cheerleader for, and the beneficiary of, the state’s successful business community. He has shown pleasing glimmers of doing just that.
Herbert believably makes much of his commitment to education. In that, he echoes many of his friends in the business community by making the argument that a well-educated workforce is key to the continued growth of existing Utah businesses and its ability to attract more of the kind of enterprises that provide high-paying jobs in low-polluting industries.
The re-elected governor has some work to do on other fronts, too. His reputation as a good manager, and Utah’s status as a well-managed state, were tainted by a scandal involving the bids for the massive rebuild of I-15 through Utah County, by a frightening data breach in the Utah Health Department, and by a scathing audit of the state’s liquor authority.
Such management flaws must be cured, and soon.
The governor must also show some more of the backbone he has exhibited in pushing the Legislature to walk back on its 2011 attempt to gut the state’s open records law and his veto of a bill that would have eviscerated sex education in the state’s public schools.
A full four-year term. A Legislature dominated by his own party. These should provide Gary Herbert with the tools he needs to be something other than Jon Huntsman’s successor.
Salt Lake Tribune editorial Nov 07 2012
The results of Tuesday’s elections mean many things for Utah. One of them is that Republican Gov. Gary Herbert was overwhelming voted back into office, this time for a full four-year term. And he will be working with a Legislature that is even slightly more Republican than it was before.
Another one is that Democrat Barack Obama won re-election as president of the United States. Not by a Herbert-sized majority, but he won. And, while the U.S. House of Representatives remains in Republican hands, the Senate is not only still a Democratic-majority body, but has arguably moved further to the left than it was before.
That means that as Herbert and the Republican Legislature move to govern Utah, they must face the reality that will come with the power structure in Washington.
The most immediate result is that the Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — is here to stay. The states, Utah included, now have roughly a week to finalize their answer to the question of whether they will provide the kind of health insurance exchange apparatus required by the ACA, cooperate with the federal government on the creation of such a system, or just cede the field.
The governor’s expressed hope that the issue would become moot with a Mitt Romney victory has been dashed. He still has a chance to put a Utah spin on his answer, but he must move quickly and decisively, or the opportunity will be lost.
The continuation of the status quo in Washington also means that there is no point in the state bashing its collective head against the wall, expecting the feds to drop their demands for cleaner air or to become appreciably more free with drilling permits for federal land.
Herbert is no fan of dirty air, of course. But his current preference for voluntary actions to improve the air quality in the Salt Lake and Cache valleys are not going to be enough to satisfy an EPA that isn’t going to back down for at least the next four years. And the governor would prove himself a wise leader if he would drop, and convince his fellow Republicans to abandon, the push for the state to take over some 30 million acres of federal land in Utah. That is not the kind of expensive, no-win battle a prudent manager would want to pursue.
Gary Herbert does not have to face the right-wing-dominated Republican caucus and convention system for another four years — if ever. He should use that time promoting ways to wisely govern Utah and manage its resources, matching President No-Drama Obama, step by responsible step.
A few days ago, I met with Mirella Peterson of the Utah Autism Coalition. She opened my eyes to some very serious problems facing Utah. Even though Utah has the highest national rate of autism (1 in 47), we lag behind other states in treating people affected by this condition. Part of the problem stems from Utah not requiring health insurance providers to cover its treatment. I see this as a real opportunity to improve the lives of Utahns while decreasing government spending. Read why at the Utah Autism Coalition’s Autism Insurance FAQ, available here.
Today I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with members and leaders of Utah’s minority community. They represent Latino, Asian, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern cultures.
Some have worn the uniform of the U.S. military. Others have left their homelands seeking a better life. Some are second or third generation Utahns. They are political candidates, business owners, and community visionaries.
Peter Cooke provided a lesson in innovative governance from Oklahoma County Commissioner Ray Vaughn, who bonded a GM factory and leased it to the Air Force to encourage a mission expansion at Tinker AFB. The purpose was to say we’re behind on protecting Hill AFB from additional loss and creative public-private partnerships and ideas are needed to protect if from BRAC in 2015.
We are told we have the best-run government in the country, just like we are told our economy is the best in the United States.
My question is, are parts of state government and state leadership truly transparent and accountable, or even managed effectively?
The current administration’s track record when it comes to running state programs is alarming.
Read more > Cooke_Accountability_9_27
In his article, “Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop,” Bob Bernick echoes our position on why the current administration is failing the state of Utah. Check it out at the following link:
“Cooke’s theme for his campaign was struck hard: I’m a leader, not a salesman,’ he repeatedly told the Governor.”
“Cooke tried to go on offense on a number of issues including financing education up to national per-capita standards, protecting Hill Air Force Base and increasing wages. ‘You’re selling our state to have cheap labor,’ Cooke told the governor.”