Orrin Hatch wants your renegade software pirating computer vaporized.

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Orrin Hatch, the entertainment industry-affiliated Republican who made it a federal crime to play a DVD on a Linux computer and tried to enable copyright holders to destroy the computers of suspected copyright infringers, is accustomed to representing Utah in the United States Senate.

After voters head to the polls on Nov. 7, he will most likely continue to do. But it won't be because there was no young, straight-shooting, idealistic, tech-savvy candidate there to oppose him.

ashdown-sign-235-notext.pngHis name is Pete Ashdown, and if anyone can clue Congress in to technology before it legislates the internet into a bunch of pneumatic tubes, it's Ashdown, who breathes bytes and exhales bits. He founded XMission (the first and largest ISP in Utah), deejayed raves and posted a Wiki version of his campaign platform for anyone to edit. One contribution to that Wiki formed a cornerstone of his platform: that the Iraqi people should vote through a referendum on whether U.S. troops should stay in their country.

In an age where energy magnates meet behind closed doors with elected officials to determine policy, Ashdown posts a calendar showing every meeting he takes in a day, and thinks other politicians should do the same.

This political transparency comes as a breath of fresh air to Ashdown's supporters, many of whom reside outside the state of Utah. The New York Times pegged Hatch as the "overwhelming favorite" there, but that hasn't stopped Ashdown from fighting for every last vote in a state he considers to be full of Democrats who just don't know that they're Democrats.