The web site AmericanVoter.com and it’s main backers have high hopes for educating Utahns and providing a place “where everyday folks who are passionate about politics” can find a voice, says former Utah GOP House member and candidate Morgan Philpot.
Philpot says AmericanVoter is being backed financially by Leonard Joe Fabiano, who challenged (unsuccessfully) U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, this year within the Utah Republican Party in the 1st Congressional District.
Fabiano has made his money in a number of web-based businesses, says Philpot.
Philpot, himself an attorney, says his main income now will be AmericanVoter, but he will also carry some private legal clients.
AmericanVoter is ambitious in its goals.
“While we are web based now, some day we hope to move into print” and other forms of distribution, says Philpot, who ran for governor this year as a Republican but lost to Gov. Gary Herbert in the state party convention.
Several years ago Philpot came close to unseating Democratic U.S. House member Jim Matheson. Philpot had been saying ever since that he would challenge Matheson again in the newly-drawn 2nd Congressional District in 2012.
But Matheson chose to jump to the new 4th District after the GOP-controlled Legislature made the new 2nd District even more Republican in its voting patterns.
Instead of running for the then-open 2nd District, or challenge Matheson in the 4th District, Philpot chose to run for governor.
While AmericanVoter is now free on the web, Philpot said he and his colleagues are looking at adopting some kind of a subscription model to bring in dollars.
In addition, AmericanVoter is going on the radio. Starting next Monday an AmericanVoter program will be on KTalk Radio from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, said Philpot.
In all formats – web, print and radio – AmericanVoter is aimed at getting first Utahns, then Americans across the nation, to give their views, ideas and opinions about critical public policy and political issues and decisions, he added.
The bylines on the current web issue of AmericanVoter include former conservative candidate Jeremy Friedbaum and Mike Kennedy, to name just two.
Philpot, known for his conservative – even at times libertarian views -- said he currently has no plans himself to run for office again.
“I hope for my (future) career to be in the media,” in one form or another, he told UtahPolicy.
But some of the goals of AmericanVoter could fit well into plans of a future candidate(s).
For example, while the current web issue of AmericanVoter links to, and analyzes, some comparisons of U.S. House and Senate members put together by the Heritage Foundation and Club for Growth, Philpot says those groups pick and chose which votes to use in their congressional rankings.
And those rankings – often touted by GOP lawmakers – don’t always show or reflect the “truth” about their voting patterns.
For example, in one budget-cutting, fiscal conservative ranking, Bishop gets a 42 percent ranking where Matheson gets a 40 percent ranking.
If Utah voters, who by nature are a conservative lot, says Philpot, don’t know how close Bishop and Matheson can be in one so-called fiscal conservative vote, then something is not right with that ranking.
“We will show other areas” where Utah congressmen may be falling short in their conservative proscriptions, he adds.
Thus, it could appear that the AmericanVoter could be providing information used in the future for a conservative candidate to challenge an incumbent officeholder from the political right.
That may or may not be, said Philpot. He, himself, has no intention of running for a future office currently.
But if in the end the AmericanVoter can provide more information to voters – whom Philpot says are the most important people in the world – “then that is a good thing.”
The AmericanVoter will attempt to go “behind the scenes” to show some of the true consequences of issues and policies, he adds.
For example, an article on the federal/state public education program Common Core on the web site now details how Utah was roped into joining the federal public education initiative without a vote of the Legislature, but with just a signature by Herbert and other local education top officials, says Philpot.
“We are not, by nature, a conservative base” of opinion and fact, said Philpot of the AmericanVoter editorial stands.
Rather, it’s a place for information and discussion, he said.
Readers are encouraged to send in emails on the various articles, rankings and other issues, he adds. And those commentator’s email addresses will not be shared publicly.
Readers are also encouraged to write pieces for the web site, although all such contributions would come free – presently AmericanVoter has no plans to pay for submissions.