After Donald Trump got elected as president, Tom Taylor stepped out of his robotics engineering lab and did something he had never done before: run for office.
And not just any office, but Congress.
And he enjoyed fame — a 2018 Women’s March tweet for his newborn daughter, who came into the world on the day of the march, enjoyed 6,300+ retweets and 21,000+ likes. Three months later, he was a star of the 2018 Utah State Democratic Party Convention, one of a handful of candidates there seeking one of the highest offices in the land.
And with the eyes of party delegates on him, he said this:
“I know who I am voting for: I am voting for Darlene McDonald in the CD4 race.”
That would be a reference to an opponent in Utah’s congressional district 4 race – not himself.
Indeed, Taylor eliminated himself from the campaign.
“I knew that dropping out and endorsing people would turn a few heads … it’s a matter of playing that game,” Taylor told me. “To get what I want, sometimes I have to give up my own political ambitions.”
Prior to telling the crowd he was voting for McDonald, Taylor noted the “blue wave” that will reportedly take place this election cycle.
“We can either ride that wave or push against it, and we ride it by putting Darlene on that ticket,” Taylor said.
McDonald is an African-American woman who like Taylor, ran on a progressive platform, but enjoyed more support.
Taylor wanted to force Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, into a Democratic primary, he told me, even if it meant that it wouldn’t be him to do it.
(McAdams still avoided a primary and is now facing Rep. Mia Love in the general election.)
Taylor does not believe that McAdams is exciting the Democratic base in Salt Lake County, much of which is in district 4, but that McAdams must do that. Taylor pointed out that in 2014, Love won by 7,500 votes as 56,000 registered Democrats in Salt Lake County didn’t vote.
In exciting that base, “You don’t do that by running on a balanced budget amendment .. or an all-of-the-above energy policy,” Taylor said of some of McAdams’ campaign platform, adding that the Democratic candidate needs to get the base to “volunteer” for their campaign.
“(McDonald) was … inspiring people,” Taylor said this summer. “Darlene’s picked up a lot of support; she has a lot of passionate volunteers. I was thinking ‘if I come out and endorse here at the convention, it might tip her over the 41 percent line” as needed to challenge McAdams, Taylor said.
Taylor also believes that McAdams’ “centrist tone” makes him not much different from the Republican Love.
Taylor said he will “continue to be an activist,” pushing for “some form of universal health care,” “serious efforts on climate change, not just people talking about it” and “some political reforms, like maybe a national voter holiday, or at the very least, get rid of gerrymandering.”
“You’ll see me around,” he remarked. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Taylor also pleaded: “don’t get jaded.”
“Politics moves very slow and this is about corralling people who understand the world like you to do build a coalition of voters … and go out there and change things,” Taylor said. “So stay involved.”