Wednesday , April 18, 2012 - 4:13 PM
The two Democrats seeking the party nod for the U.S. House District 1 race are already campaigning against the incumbent Republican rather than each other.
Ryan Combe, of Ogden, and Donna McAleer, of Park City, are lashing out at both five-termRep. Rob Bishop, R-Brigham City, and the Washington D.C., establishment.
"I don't think Rob Bishop even knows who his constituency is anymore," said McAleer, depicting him as a professional campaigner enmeshed in the Washington world of career politicians. "I certainly believe Rob Bishop is vulnerable, and I believe I'm the candidate who can beat him."
Combe called Bishop one of the earmark kings of Congress, known for attaching riders to popular bills to fund pet projects.
"It's billions of dollars, and 95 percent of them are for those who contribute money to his campaign, including out-of-state corporations, not his constituents," Combe said.
Combe and McAleer will square off at the state Democratic Convention in Salt Lake City forthe right to be the party standard-bearer in the District 1 Congressional race.
McAleer, 46, graduated from West Point in 1987. She was stationed in Germany before leaving the service in 1991 to earn an MBA at the University of Virginia. She is the author of "Porcelain on Steel: Women of West Point's Long Gray Line," and is currently writing a book on early suffragettes.
In 2000 she left the corporate world to move to Park City to train for the Olympic women's bobsled event, barely missing making the Olympic team for the 2002 winter games. She subsequently became one of the founders of the The People's Health Clinic, serving the uninsured in Summit and Wasatch counties.
In addition to being an Internet entrepreneur, Weber State University grad Combe, 30, is marketing director of the school's alumni association and owns a consulting company assisting small business owners.
A big goal of Combe's campaign is for his election staff to register 15,000 new voters by August.
And Combe, who speaks Spanish and served an LDS mission to Argentina, also wants to reach out to Latinos.
"It's a community we're hoping to get involved in the political process," he said, noting that only 21âÑ2 percent of Utah's Latino citizens vote.
McAleer would also like to tinker with the electoral process.
"I'm a big believer in campaign financing reform," she said. "Running for Congress is equivalent to creating a start-up business and going from zero revenue to $1 million in two months.
"It certainly restricts the number of people who can even think of running for office and it's not the citizen-based government the Founding Fathers intended."
She favors some kind of federally funded campaign office. "Every candidate gets $500,000 and that's it, they have to make the best of it."
Combe finds the current system less than representative. Members of Congress, he said, no longer consider those who elected them, and lobbyists and political action groups hold sway.
"None of them are serving their constituencies," he said. "We lost that 20 years ago. As they're being lobbied constantly, they don't even think about their constituents ... It's time to have people represent us who are actually a part of us."
Combe is the sixth generation of one of the earliest settler families in Weber County.He grew up on the land his immigrant ancestor "walked across the country" to settle, he said.
His father, Corey Combe, is a Democratic candidate for the Weber County Commission.
McAleer, a native of Yonkers, N.Y., works as a corporate consultant and speaker and is a ski instructor at Deer Valley. Her life in the corporate world includes roles in public, private and nonprofit corporations. Her career includes working as vice president of global logistics and support services at GenRad, a producer of electronic test equipment now owned by Hewlett Packard.
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