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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: conservatives

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February 7, 2012 at 6:34 PM

In Passing: Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center

"In Passing" posts capture shorter snapshots of places and people we encounter on the road. (Photos courtesy of Alex Stonehill, A.V. Crofts and Flickr Creative Commons/UW Election Eye) COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Spring Pregnancy Center—part of the Life Network—is a small, two-story brick building, positioned conveniently by a bus stop and a Toys…

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Comments | Topics: abortion, Colorado, Colorado Springs

February 6, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Ted Haggard, forgiveness, and renewal in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS — I didn’t want to go. To Ted Haggard’s new church, that is.

In 1984, Haggard founded New Life, a nondenominational church in Colorado Springs that grew to 14,000 members under his leadership. He gained national stature and became president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization of 45,000 churches. But in 2006 he admitted he had an affair with a male prostitute, and resigned his positions as New Life pastor and head of the NAE.

In recent years Haggard has made something of a spiritual comeback, founding St. James, a new church that first met on the Haggard’s property in a barn and now assembles in a local middle school.

As a person of faith, and a scholar, and a journalist, I sometimes find my various roles colliding. Although I was not interested in rehashing Haggard’s history, I was interested in the complicated relationship Protestant Christianity sometimes has with its spiritually wounded.

So I went, albeit reluctantly, to Haggard’s new church Sunday.

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Comments | Topics: Colorado, Colorado Springs, conservatives

February 2, 2012 at 6:37 AM

On the road to Nevada and Colorado caucuses: Sin City, Super Bowl Weekend, Ted Haggard, and Tim Tebow

(Courtesy of flickr/John Wardell)

LAS VEGAS — Call us crazy. Our friends and families certainly do.

This morning we hit the road for another week on the ground of the presidential three-ring circus — er, campaign.

Our first stop is in the bright lights here to chronicle three days of Republican Party campaigning and Saturday caucuses in what are high holy days in the Sin City — Super Bowl weekend. To kick it off, Donald Trump will make a “major” announcement today at 12:30 pm at his eponymous Trump Hotel and Towers on The Strip. We’ll be there — not to see The Donald, but to see what surrounds him. Epic. Absurd. America.

In Vegas, we plan to report on the housing crisis in the nation’s worst-hit city for foreclosures, to examine how people of the Mormon faith thrive in a state known for gambling and legal prostitution, to get some up-close insight into famously inexpensive Las Vegas culinary culture, to shed some light on Newt Gingrich’s largest benefactor and Las Vegas hotel mogul Sheldon Adelson, and to unpack the Nevada Republican Party’s decision to release the caucus results via twitter.

On Saturday we’ll be tweeting results and commentary from caucuses all across Clark County, which houses 60% of the state’s Republican population. The final caucus of the day will be held at a school named for Adelson, which should be interesting.

At dawn Sunday morning we head to Colorado to spend three days exploring conservative (Colorado Springs) and liberal (Denver and Boulder) strongholds in a politically purple state. Mitt Romney has the GOP nomination momentum and is likely to do well in Nevada, but on Tuesday Colorado joins Minnesota and Missouri in voting, so it’s a test of whether Romney can cement national support.

We plan to attend former National Association of Evangelical president Ted Haggard’s new church, which began in a barn after his fall from grace following a sex scandal, and his former church, which meets in a building the size of an airplane hangar. We are set to talk to Air Force Academy cadets and other military members who populate the region. We will hear what Latino Republicans think about their candidates. We want to know what the Obama campaign is doing in this crucial swing state. And we won’t be stunned if we see Tim Tebow somewhere on the campaign trail.

On Tuesday evening we’ll be tweeting results and commentary from various points up and down Interstate 25, which runs from the border of New Mexico to Wyoming, smack through Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver, and alongside Boulder, Loveland, and Fort Collins. We’ll probably sing a particular John Denver song while we’re at it.

Please join us here for our posts. Crazy? Maybe. Compelling? Absolutely.

Continue after the fold for some scene-setting information on Nevada. We’ll provide similar context for Colorado on Sunday morning when we catch our breath.

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Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Caucuses, caucuses

January 22, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Much ado about Newt

COLUMBIA– Newt Gingrich’s election party at the Hilton hotel radiated with literal heat and positive energy. Fans, volunteers and reporters stood shoulder to shoulder, singing along to Journey and Springsteen and periodically breaking out into chants of “Newt! Newt! Newt!” Gingrich’s long time supporters couldn’t contain their excitement, calling his sweeping victory absolutely “surreal.”

Here are a few snapshots:

“South Carolina saved America,” announced a very emotional Barbara Marks. Newt’s victory bordered on a religious experience for the Laughlin, Nevada resident. She thanked the Palmetto state voters and Rick Perry–calling him a true “gentleman” for dropping out in time.

“With God’s help, we’re going all the way,” she said, teary-eyed. “And we will make it.”

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Comments | Topics: campaign, conservatives, Gingrich

January 22, 2012 at 12:58 PM

The "evangelical vote" diverse, but united on social issues

Evangelical literature at the Personhood USA forum in Greenville, SC, last week, where candidates gathered to establish their credentials on conservative social issues (Alex Stonehill/UW Election Eye)

COLUMBIA — Newt Gingrich’s dramatic come-from-behind victory in South Carolina last night was driven by a lot of factors. But one of the most important was the “evangelical vote,” which went for Gingrich two-for-one over Mitt Romney.

Evangelicals are a still a potent political force in American politics, if Saturday’s primary was any indication. They compose some 65 percent of the electorate in South Carolina, and they seemed to have rallied behind Gingrich following Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s endorsement of him on Thursday.

But just who are this oft-cited chunk of South Carolinians who self-identify as evangelicals?

They’re people like Matthew Saxon, 27, a first-year M.Div. student at Columbia International University, a conservative ecumenical seminary based in Columbia. He attends Shandon Baptist Church, also in Columbia, where he teaches Sunday school.

Saxon’s a general manager at a branch of a local Southwestern-themed-fast-food chain, Moe’s, located near the University of South Carolina’s campus near downtown. He’s married and has two young kids.

And he’s frustrated.

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Comments | Topics: Christian Coalition, Christian evangelicals, conservatives

January 22, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Interview: Randy Stonehill on South Carolina's evangelical community

"Uncle Randy" Stonehill on the cover of his 1976 album "Welcome to Paradise"

Come primary season the evangelical community is usually referenced in political terms, with Christians voters in the bellwether South Carolina primary treated as a uniform group, and speculation tossed about over which candidate will secure the “evangelical vote”.

My uncle Randy Stonehill, who was “born again” in the 1970s and since built a prolific career as a Christian folk rock musician, recently relocated from Southern California to Columbia, South Carolina.

I asked him a few questions about his transition from one “SC” to another and the diversity he’s found in South Carolina’s evangelical community:

What’s the biggest difference between living in Southern California and South Carolina?

The pace of things is a bit slow and there is less tension in the air. People tend to be friendlier and more willing to look you in the eye.

As a whole, the Stonehills are pretty die hard Democrats. Has that made it difficult to transition into an evangelical community in South Carolina that is mostly Republican?

Surprisingly not, though there are obvious differences in culture and political perspective. Most people I encounter are aware that the world of politics is an arena of compromise. There’s not really much discussion about politics, and when there is, we try to stay focused on our common denominator as followers of Jesus.

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Comments | Topics: christian rock, conservatives, Randy Stonehill

January 19, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Getting personal in South Carolina

Matthew Saxon

GREENVILLE — I came to South Carolina to learn, see, and hear opinions that I don’t encounter every day in Seattle. What I didn’t expect was to be asked for my own thoughts — and certainly not on abortion.

But that’s what went down Wednesday, more than once.

The day began in a sit-down meeting in Columbia with Matthew Saxon, 27, at the Moe’s Southwest Grill, where he works to pay his way through divinity school at Columbia International University. I’d met up with him hoping to hear the perspective of a young evangelical South Carolinian.

Matthew had plenty of views that defied my stereotype of a southern Christian.

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Comments | Topics: abortion, conservatives, Election 2012

January 16, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Abolishing income tax and 'voting for Mickey Mouse'

Fair Tax Volunteers Close Up

From left: Audrey Aldridge, Mickey Lattimore and Joseph Kejr

MYRTLE BEACH — By the time we arrived at the Tea Party Convention, most of its attendees had left to either go home or head over to the debate early. I was lucky enough to catch a few lingering organizers and initiative volunteers when I cornered some of the members of FairTax by their booth.

At first they balked at the mention of my hometown, but Mickey Lattimore, Joseph Kejr and Audrey Aldridge warmed with the chance to talk about their passion — abolishing the income tax and replacing it with a national retail tax of six percent. There would be no business-to-business tax, education would be exempted and citizens below the poverty line would be prorated. All three have worked on making their FairTax initiative a federal and state reality for years. They want the government to treat every American equally, they say. 

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Comments | Topics: conservatives, Election 2012, Fair tax

January 16, 2012 at 7:36 PM

At Myrtle Beach Tea Party convention, concerns about "conservative rights"

Billie and Jim Gunn, local Myrtle Beach Tea-Party activists

MYRTLE BEACH — Fiscal or faith issues? What matters more to the Tea Party? Here in South Carolina at their state convention Monday afternoon, both do.

That’s what Jim and Billie Gunn say, a husband-and-wife activist duo who are active in local civic government, GOP politics, and the Tea Party. This kind of political crossover is common in Carolina, they said.

They got involved in Tea-Party activism early last year, when they gave up hope that the GOP would stand firm on the policy fronts they’re most concerned about: immigration and and the role of government.

“We just didn’t think the GOP has been aggressive enough in dealing with these concerns,” Jim said. His opinion matters: he’s the Myrtle Beach Tea-Party chapter president.

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Comments | Topics: conservatives, Tea Party

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