Chris H. once again guests, continuing his efforts to seduce us all into godless Communism.
I first met Ben McAdams in Park City in 1999. The Utah Democratic Party was having their off-year annual convention at Park City High School. I was attending as a journalist for the short-lived newspaper The Orem Daily Journal. Ben was Student Body President at the University of Utah and had previously been head of their College Democrats. He had been tapped to be the chair of the convention and was conducting the meeting.
Covering the 1998 elections, I met Charlie Luke, the campaign manager for the senate campaign of Scott Leckman. I ran into Charlie at the convention and I told him that I had just transferred to the U. If that was the case, he said, I needed to meet Ben. Charlie had headed up the College Democrats the year before Ben. The buzz at the convention was that Ben was a kid (though as an RM he was in his early 20s and he was also older than me) who going places.
I was impressed by how articulate and smart Ben was. It was intimidating, really. I wanted to be the political mover and shaker in those days. But I lacked the traits that made Ben stand out in a crowd. Ben had charm, and not the slimy politician charm that many of the people I met that day had.
I ran into Ben a few times the next year and a half at the Univ. of Utah as he planned for his next step: law school at Columbia. I have heard or seen his name a few times since, but I lost track of him (pretty sure he would not even know who I am). Since that time I have been active in the state party at various times and I followed the party closely during the time I was Idaho. While it has had its ups and downs, I have thought over the years, that the party needs people like Ben: leaders who could appeal to liberals and Mormons (luckily for me, I am both).
It looks like Ben has done well for himself according to this article in the Deseret News. He completed his studies at Columbia, gained some experience in the legal profession, and, most recently, has worked as the legislative liaison for Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.
Now Ben is taking some time off from Mayor Becker’s office to serve in the Utah State Senate. Democratic State Senator Scott McCoy stepped down to focus on his legal work and in December a caucus of local Democrats nominated Ben to fill the rest of McCoy’s term. Ben is a great replacement for McCoy, who is was a very intelligent legislator.
The thing that has me most excited about Ben is that he falls within the tradition of liberal Salt Lake Mormon Democrats. This tradition includes the likes of the late Wayne Owens and former Mayor Ted Wilson. We haven’t seen much of this tradition lately. Speaking of his politics and his Mormonism, the Deseret News quotes Ben:
McAdams, a member of the LDS Church, said he doesn’t find it difficult to be a Mormon and a Democrat.
“I don’t feel any dissonance between myself and my political beliefs and my faith,” he said, describing himself as progressive in his views. “There are certainly people who have criticized me, but I believe I’m acting 100 percent in accordance with my conscience.”
He said that that’s what his faith requires, “to act in accordance with what my personal beliefs are. I don’t look to any outside source or religious authority to tell me how I should think or what my political opinion should be. They come from me.”
I wish Ben well in this year’s legislative session which starts on Monday and in his campaign for own four-year term in the November election.