How would you vote?

Chuck Sheketoff

I live in State Senate District 9, and once again the Democrats have failed to field a candidate. It happened two years ago in our local House race. This year, only Constitution Party candidate Herman Baurer, who’s running because he wants “to return to moral standards based on God, not man,” opposes Republican Roger Beyer.

Both Beyer's record in the Legislature and Baurer’s promises to voters are the anathema of any moderate, not just Democrats and progressives. How should a Democrat or a moderate in Senate District 9 vote?

Two years ago Baurer, was the sole challenger of Tootie Smith, the Republican running for the House. I seem to recall that I voted for him just so I’d be able to sleep knowing that I didn’t help elect Tootie Smith. If so, my vote has both confused folks studying the votes and apparently given Baurer encouragement to stay active in campaigns. Now he’s taking on Beyer in the Senate race. And the Democrats are the big losers.

Baurer got 3,066 votes, or 17 percent of the vote in his 2002 House race. I think its fair to assume that a good portion of those votes, maybe most of them, was genuine, versus “can’t stomach the Republican” votes like mine. If so, that means that if the Democrats had fielded a candidate in 2002 Baurer could have been a possible spoiler for the Republican incumbent.

In 1996 we had a three-way race for the state Senate, and the not strong Democrat unsupported by the Party lost by 2,361 votes. The Constitution Party candidate that year received only 1,141, or 1,925 fewer votes than Baurer got in last election’s House race (half the Senate district). Thus, if Baurer could hold his own base in a Senate race this time, a moderate Democrat could be the winner by getting just a few more votes than the weak Democratic candidate got in 1996. And if new Democratic registrations are beating the Republican registrations, the three-way race would really benefit the Democrats.

I know, I’m just dreaming, because the filing deadline is past the Democrats didn’t field a candidate. In Oregon, we’re supposed to love dreamers, right? So I like to imagine being represented by a Democrat in the Senate. However, because the Party and powers that be (i.e., the money behind the Dems) apparently don’t know how, or care, to take advantage of third party candidates splitting the Right, and are not willing to invest at least a minimal amount in every race, pollsters be damned, I’m left to dreaming.

Come Election Day, however, I’m truly stuck with a nightmarish choice. I’ll probably just write in Jim Gilbert. Does anyone in BlueOregon-land have a better suggestion for how I should exercise my voting rights? How would you vote?

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    Nobody says you have to cast a vote in every race. There have been multiple times I've been the undervote just on principle. Sometimes not voting is better than putting your vote behind someone you are morally opposed to.

    With ballot measures - when in doubt, vote no. With candidates - when in doubt, just don't vote. JMHO.

    On a side-note, doesn't SD 9 encompass the great city of Liberal, Oregon? Sadly ironic, eh?

  • Chuck Sheketoff (unverified)

    Ironic, for sure - SD9 does include Liberal, Oregon. The Democratic candidate the House seat, Jim Gilbert runs a business "in the Liberal area" (see His campaign literature may make him the only D in Oregon, or elsewhere, purposefully linking his name to the term "liberal."

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    That's funny. I never even knew that Liberal existed until I drove through there on my way to somewhere else for work. I thought for a moment "Hmm, I should live here." Then looked around and changed my mind (very tiny, very rural, obviously very conservative -very not me).

    Though, in all honesty, most people who know me would probably say I should move to Tangent, OR instead. lol. But, of course, that's neither here nor there....

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    Chuck, at this late date, I don't know what you can do, either. The write-in is a decent choice, and possibly you could make a pitch here on BlueOregon. Who knows, it might get a few more votes, maximizing the statement.

    But as liberals, there is something we can begin to do for the future. Thanks to the scorched-Earth rhetoric of the far-right over past fifteen years, politics have becomed poisoned. The far-right retorts that it's just politics, and liberals are as responsible for the problem. That is objectively false, but it's true that progressives have missed an opportunity.

    During the great progressive era in Oregon politics, the progressivism emerged from two impulses. First, a kind of excitement of the future that resulted from the forward-looking politics of liberals for two decades. With the space program and the possibilities of the civil rights movement, there was a spirit of possibility that naturally led even conservative-minded people to look toward big, optimistic projects.

    But equally important was the notion of that such a polity depended on. So when Oregon began to draft nationally innovative policies, they did so as Oregonians for Oregon. It's impossible to imagine land-use planning happening without broad bipartisan support.

    Progressive policy is more revolutionary because it's more inclusive. But it's also harder to achieve. It requires broad agreement and leaders willing to represent broad, rather than narrow interests. As we look forward, it's my hope that we as progressives expand the notion of what progressivism entails. It's not enough to stand against the far right. Oregonians need someone to stand for them--all of them.

    Next time around, maybe someone will run in District 9 with a message not just of liberalism but inclusivity.

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    Sorry, I deleted a word in one of those sentences. "But equally important was the notion of that such a polity depended on" should be "ut equally important was the notion of inclusivity that such a polity depended on."

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    Chuck -

    Why don't you run sometime?

  • Mrs.Carol Reynolds (unverified)

    Dear Jim Gilbert, I've already marked you on my ballot.Sure hope you win,we realy need people like you.Good luck & may God bless. Sincerely,Mrs.Carol Reynolds

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