Without endorsing a candidate for the June 26 Republican U.S. Senate primary, we're pleased that voters will make the final nominee choice.
Longtime incumbent, Sen. Orrin Hatch, is seeking his seventh six-year term. Although in the past, Hatch has fended off traditionally weak GOP opposition at state conventions, Liljenquist, a former state senator from Bountiful, is a serious candidate with interesting ideas on pension and entitlements reform.
Hatch nearly avoided a primary falling just short of the 60 percent of delegates needed Saturday to garner the nomination outright. Liljenquist's successful effort to force a primary was helped when defeated, third-place GOP hopeful, state Rep. Chris Herrod, endorsed the former state senator. Hatch has spent $5.7 million dollars so far, Liljenquist about $227,000.
We have a suggestion for both campaigns -- accentuate the positives of your candidate and drop the ubiquitous SuperPAC TV ads slamming your opponent. If we have to deal with barrage of negative ads telling us how awful candidate Hatch is or candidate Liljenquist is, it's going to be a long two-plus months until the primary. And so many negative ads will depress turnout and reinforce the negative perceptions too many of us already have about politics.
A clean, issues-oriented campaign with both candidates stressing their ideas and respectfully debating whatever differences they have on issues would be such a pleasant surprise. And it would be a distinct change from many ads before the convention, which were tiresome and negative.
The winner on June 26 will face Democrat Scott Howell, a former Utah state senator. Howell garnered his nomination at his party's state convention, avoiding a primary. Perhaps if the GOP contenders can run a respectful race that can translate into a respectful, clean November vote as well. One can only hope.