Vicki Walker: for Governor or State Senator?

There's a lot of grumbling going on amongst the political chattering class that Vicki Walker's putative run for Governor will make it much tougher to retain her Eugene-area State Senate seat.

The popular GOP mayor of Eugene, Jim Torrey, has announced a campaign for the seat. With Walker potentially out of that race, the GOP will have a much easier time closing the gap in the Senate.

Of course, a gubernatorial primary challenge against the incumbent, Ted Kulongoski, is a tall order - especially given the fundraising gap.

So, the question for Blue Oregonians... If you were advising Vicki Walker, what would you suggest as the best way for her to advance her policy goals? A very tough race against Governor Kulongoski - or a re-election campaign against Jim Torrey?

Comments

  • Wyatt (unverified)
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    I have nothing against Vicki's ambition to run for Gov, BUT it should also be considered that if Jim Torrey has a clear and easy waltz into a Vicki's vacated senate seat because she runs for governor, it will also hurt the Democratic chance for defeating Debi Farr in House District 14 (also in Eugene and part of Vicki's senate territory). Without a tough race of his own, Torrey will be able to campaign for Farr.

    So now, not only do we have one less Senate seat, but it just became more difficult to take back the house.

    And ultimately, having the House, the Senate, and the Governor's office will do more for policy advancement than only 1 or 2 of the 3. And a nasty primary could hurt Kulongoski in the general election, thereby increasing the risk that Kulongoski will lose and we will be down to only our weakened Senate control left. Yikes!

    Priority #1: Beat Torrey.

  • Wyatt (unverified)
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    Regarding my previous comment:

    I made the assumption that Kulongoski would win in the primary. Maybe that's not fair, but the power of incumbancy is a huge thing to overcome. If Vicki wins the primary, then more power to her. But I think it's a HUGE risk to Democratic policy advancement given that K has incumbancy.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Just what Oregon needs for Governor -- a whiny schoolmarm swinging a wooden yardstick at everything she sees.

    No thanks.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Without a tough race of his own, Torrey will be able to campaign for Farr. Given that Farr was just another member of the Stepford majority caucus last time, it seems wise to defeat her.

  • Aaron (unverified)
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    IF AND ONLY IF, Senator Walker offical files for the Governorship it becomes an issue on maintain the seat. Filing deadline is Mar 7 2006--that is not too far away but still several months out.

    The other point is there are only 2 people that are OFFICALLY running for the Governor seat. Teddy K, Mannix, Saxton, and others are in the "exploratory stage" of running for the Governorship.

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    Aaron - Senator Walker, of course, will have to decide whether to run by March 7... long before the May primary for governor.

    So, the question is now (and will be asked again later): What's her best course of action? A run for governor or for re-election to the state senate?

    It is essentially a question of high-risk/high-reward versus low-but-not-zero risk with moderate reward.

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    Torrey will probably beat Walker for that seat. Her high-strung shenanigans, especially her unhealthy obsession with former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's involvement with a teen age girl, has given her a reputation as erratic.

    Torrey was a solid mayor who was respected even by people who did not agree with him.

    Torrey has a independent streak. He unlikely to play ball with Republican leaders -- Minnis, Mannix, et al -- who have sold out Oregon for national campaign contributions and he is not the type to give in to the intimidation and bullying common in the Oregon House since Larry Campbell was Speaker. That could start a trend of independence that has been sorely lacking among Republicans in Salem.

    Torrey was around when the self-government gene was passed out, unlike so many of his generation. Torrey can actually hold a civilized conversation with people he doesn't always agree with. What a concept!

    Democrats better find another vulnerable Senate seat and win it of they want to keep their margin in the Senate.

    Walker has no chance of winning the nomination for governor. She won't be able to raise enough money for an effective campaign. and she simply hasn't the experience Oregonians have historically expected of candidates for governor in both parties -- statewide office or presiding officer in the Legislature.

  • oracletom (unverified)
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    Russell, You made many valid points regarding the Walker senate seat. But I disagree with you in one key area. I do believe the democrats hold onto the seat whether Vicki runs again or not. If Vicki stays in, she wins because nobody campaigns harder, she is a populist-that appeals to people in her district-and she has a solid legislative record to run on. If she doesnt run, I believe Rep. Bob Ackerman does run and believe he will beat Jim Torrey. Bob has many of the same attributes associated with Torrey but hasn't accumulated the enemies. He also has a steady hand, quiet but firm demeanor, and accolades from both parties during his House service. Add in a solid D edge in the district and Torrey will be a solid but inevitably defeated challenger.

  • Rorovitz (unverified)
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    Russell,

    I think her obsession with Goldschmidt can look odd, but the guy was a child rapist wielding a big stick over the Oregon political scene. Going after him was 'fair game' as we say in common parlance.

    And good for her. Too many prominent dems, possibly including the current governor, had heard the rumors and swept it under the rug.

    I'm not a fan of Vicki, but I support what she did in bringing truth to bear on a pedophile. It's too bad if the good people of Lane County look down on her for that.

    That said, I took your comment as analysis of the tenor in the community as opposed to your own viewpoint/judgement on the situation.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Walker has taken swings at no one who has not deserved it. Like JoAnn Bowman, she sticks out because no one else has the guts to speak truth to power.

    As far as her run for governor, I am not enamored of Kulongoski's performance. A multiplicity of challengers will make it unlikely to unseat him. We now have Sorenson, Walker, and Metzger, either running or considering. This reflects Democratic dissatisfaction, but strengthens the Governor's position.

  • Kent (unverified)
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    If she wants to run for Governor she should wait until 2010. If she wants to run for state-wide office then how about taking on a Republican like Smith?

    Regardless of what you think of Ted, there is something to be said for party loyalty. Why should any Democrat ever follow her lead if she's unwilling to do the same now? I would NEVER contribute money to a Democrat mounting a primary challenge when there are worthy Democrats challenging incumbent Republicans that need assistance. Heck, I would contribute money out-of-state to Democrats like Paul Hackett who are actually trying to tip the balance in Congress rather than give her a dime. I expect many others feel the same.

    I'm a progressive pragmatist. My priorities are issues rather than personalities. I want to see improved support for education and a more stable financial base in this state. Will abandoning a state Senate seat for an underfunded primary campaign against an incumbant improve the chances for progressive outcomes? I have my doubts.

  • Jeff Bull (unverified)
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    Put it this way: as new as I am to Oregon politics (I've only been paying close attention for a year - shameful, I know, but true), I know very little about Vicki Walker. Extrapolating from that, I'm guessing I'm not alone state-wide. With that in mind, here are my questions:

    1) How long has Vicki Walker served in the Senate? Might she build a bigger profile and rep if she stays?

    2) How "left" is she? I may be alone here, but I think closer one is to the left, the more she'll struggle state-wide (I think this is why Teddy K struggles so badly with progressives).

    If she's as long a shot as she appears to be, she ought to stick it out in the Senate - and that assumes that Russel's not right about Torrey knocking her off in any case.

  • Aaron (unverified)
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    Kari,

    "It is essentially a question of high-risk/high-reward versus low-but-not-zero risk with moderate reward."

    That is just part of it. We have potentially four Senators gunning for the Teddy K, 2 from his on party, 2 Republicans but 1 of them potential as an Independent.

    That tells me that because of the "lack of whatever" from the Teddy K shows me that risk/reward ratio is tempting enough to take on the fight to "improve the chances for progressive" legislative agendas and policies to make it to both the Senate and House floors, pending on what party you are in.

    For the "lack of party loyalty" or constituent loyalty; why did City Commissioner Blumenauer jump ship in mid-term and run for Congress to represent East Portland/N. Clackamas County to fill then newly elected Senator Ron Wyden, or his run for the Senate. They decided to move up on the political ladder is because they had a good feeling that the voters knew that both of them would do “no worse and hopefully better of a job” then their predecessors.

    I have a good feeling that the Democratic Senate Leadership could find a good replacement for her to run for the Senate race.

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    vicki walker has zero chance of becoming gov; bev stein busted her buns for 2 years going all over the state finished a distant 3rd. walker has less experience & less name recognition -- and a lot less money. she has no record of statewide leadership; i certainly have no intention of voting for her (and that should end the matter there, should it not?)

    i know that many people loathe ted for a lot of reasons, but if the dems win the house & hold the senate -- and lose the governor -- well, we'll be really proud of ourselves then, won't we? the way some peole talk about him, you'd think he was channeling nixon or something. he was the guy stuck in the middle, the one who had to find a way to get state business accomplished. everyone else in the state could play party politics; he had to find a path between minnis' neocon obstructions and the dems' desire to do more than we had the money for. my friend fearless has sworn never to vote for ted, based on the pers issue; my concerns are broader, and i will vote for him if he's the nominee. maybe not happily, but i will because i know he will sign a civil unions bill, he will not try to destroy public education, and he will represent my values far better than any republican ever could.

    let's hope the primary process is not a stupid bloodbath but a chance to air the issues, for sorenson to demonstrate if he is worthy of replacing ted on the ticket, and for dems like vicki walker to stay put and not toss away their seat on some quixotic campaign beyond their reach. let's hope the primary is step one in taking back the house & keeping the senate & gov. otherwise, we will be really screwed.

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    Go, Vicki! Screw Ted Goldschmidt and Ron Goldschmidt. I'd rather vote for Mannix and spend an extra year in purgatory for it. At some point you stand up against money and corruption, or you're worthless.

  • David W (unverified)
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    Some people in this thread are talking about the advancement of democratic policy. Fine: but policy is only part of the equation. It's not just about having a D in the governor's office or a majority in the Senate or House, it's also about who the people are and what they do with that power. I would have thought that this most recent session showed us that having D control of 2 of 3 centers of power in Salem is not enough if there is no leadership or willingness to exercise that power to advance a policy agenda.

    In the arena of public education, which is my highest priority, we got precious little from this legislative session. The only legislative measures were ending overgenerous contracts and raising graduation requirements - both things that any school board can do and that we had already done in Portland. On the biggest issue - funding - which we do not control locally any more - we got woeful action, including a Governor starting us off at $5 billion, which was lower than the R House! And a Senate leadership agreeing to a spending limit with no action on the revenue side and not even a discussion on cigarette tax, corportate minimum income tax (set in 1930s) etc.

    So retaining control of an office or of a chamber is not enough. We need to elect folks who are going do do something with that office or that control.

  • Kent (unverified)
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    Go, Vicki! Screw Ted Goldschmidt and Ron Goldschmidt. I'd rather vote for Mannix and spend an extra year in purgatory for it. At some point you stand up against money and corruption, or you're worthless.

    Hmmmm...that sounds vaguely familiar. Where have I heard that before? Oh right! That's basically what all my Nader 2000 friends were saying.

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    Re: Jim Torrey's "independence."

    He may be a personable and civil Republican, and certainly that's a trait severely lacking in Salem, but his "independence" often comes at the expense of some of the most vulnerable in our society.

    For example, last year he had the "independence" to side with big insurance and drug companies against victims of terrible medical errors when backing Constitutional Amendment 35.

    Yes, he did actively campaign for an issue at odds with his constituents - so I guess that's independence of sorts - but the problem is that this policy would have come at the expense of the very people he should be representing.

    I would like to see Vicki stick around and take him on. I think that if she stayed in the Senate and won a difficult race against Torrey it would be good for her and the Legislature. I like Vicki but think the Governor's race is going to be a tough nut to crack.

    Also, and I realize that I keep coming back to Constitutional Amendment 35 (disclosure- I managed the NO effort), but she was among the more helpful Legislators on our side. And Torrey was a pretty outspoken supporter of the measure too.

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    Charlie wrote: For example, last year he had the "independence" to side with big insurance and drug companies against victims of terrible medical errors when backing Constitutional Amendment 35.

    The problem with making that case against a moderate "R" like Torrey is that there are enough Democrats who have sided with insurance and drug companies, both in Salem, and at the federal level, that we can't really claim the moral high ground until we get consistent results from our electeds in a way that benefits consumers at the expense of powerful and wealthy interests.

    Kent wrote:Hmmmm...that sounds vaguely familiar. Where have I heard that before? Oh right! That's basically what all my Nader 2000 friends were saying.

    So long as the Democratic electorate is willing to settle for the mushy middle from our politicians, that is exactly what we are going to get from them. At what point will we stop allowing ourselves to be governed by fear and force our electeds to promote a positive vision for change in Oregon and America?

    In my view, the proper recipe is to line up behind the candidate who most reflects your personal values and beliefs in the Democratic primary -- regardless of what conventional wisdom says about their chances -- fight to get your candidate elected, andc then close ranks behind whomever the nominee is.

    This is one of the reasons why I am so disappointed that the DPO has chosen not to hold a candidate's forum at the Oregon Summit this year. Kulongoski, Walker, Sorenson, and Metsger all deserve an opportunity to make their case.

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    No, there's really no problem at all making the case that Jim Torrey sided with big insurance and drug companies and Vicki Walker sided with patients and victims because that's exactly what happened.

    To recap: Jim Torrey- pro-35. Vicki Walker- against 35. Will this be the one and only vote determinative issue in this hypothetical match-up? No. Does it matter that Torrey has an anti-consumer record? Yes.

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    No, there's really no problem at all making the case that Jim Torrey sided with big insurance and drug companies and Vicki Walker sided with patients and victims because that's exactly what happened.

    I'm not disputing that. And I'm certainly not siding with Torrey or anyone else who stands with big pharma or anyone else against the interests of consumers. What I'm saying is that the record of many of our elected D's is spotty with regard to consumer-interest legislation, and that the Democratic electorate needs to demand some accountability in the primary process or we'll continue to get more of the same.

  • j.biddy (unverified)
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    Vicki Walker is probably going to be a bigger asset in the Senate. However, no question about it, we need to replace Teddy K. There's something that I never quite understood about campaigns and the support thereof. It has been stated in many places that Ted Kulongoski's fundraising far outpaces all of the other Democratic Primary challengers. So, here is my question--do funds matter or do votes matter? You can sit here and say Ted has more money, so you're going to vote for him in the primary, or you can sit here and say Ted has more money, but you're voting for Sorenson, Walker, Metzger, whoever the hell is running. If you want something to change, you vote for the change. If you really want something to change, you vote for the change and you convince others to vote for the change.

    I don't know about many of you, but I'm going to be making my case against Teddy K. in the primaries to everyone I know no matter how much money he has. Time and time again he has shown how lame of a Governor he is. So why don't we put a different D in there?

  • LT (unverified)
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    I don't know about many of you, but I'm going to be making my case against Teddy K. in the primaries to everyone I know no matter how much money he has. Time and time again he has shown how lame of a Governor he is. So why don't we put a different D in there?

    If you are supporting another candidate, fine. But please be aware that merely "making my case against Teddy K. in the primaries to everyone I know" does not get anyone else elected unless it convinces someone to vote for another primary candidate. And in the general it just comes back to haunt.

  • j.biddy (unverified)
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    I don't see how putting a better candidate in the General Election is going to lose it for us? That's what primaries are for. To weed out the bad seeds--Ted Kulongoski has proven to be a bad seed. We've barely heard a peep from him in the time he's been in the Governor's office.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Kent wrote:

    "Hmmmm...that sounds vaguely familiar. Where have I heard that before? Oh right! That's basically what all my Nader 2000 friends were saying."

    And what did savy Democrats tell Nader? Run in the Democratic primary, Ralph.

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    Posted by: salvador

    So long as the Democratic electorate is willing to settle for the mushy middle from our politicians, that is exactly what we are going to get from them. At what point will we stop allowing ourselves to be governed by fear and force our electeds to promote a positive vision for change in Oregon and America?

    in our 2-party system, as it's presently constituted, a 3rd party candidate has no chance to win at the state level or above. that's just the nature of the beast these days. can a 3rd party or indy win a local election? sure. we elected a green to the corvallis school board, albeit as a non-partisan. but that's one seat held by someone not an R or D. that's how a real revolution works in a republican democracy. nader didn't get, still doesn't, and anyone who thinks they can change the system from the top is either full or pride or empty of intelligence.

    the neocons took over by running for local offices for years. they worked their way up, slowly taking over and turning the terms of political discource in their favor. today, they run the show nationally. but we find ourselves, on the progressive left, beginning to follow their example. dems are winning local seats like crazy (and greens could be doing the same, albeit in smaller numbers, but the opportunity is there).

    dems don't have to vote for a green or indie to dump bad candidates. but when the bad, or undesired, candidate is an incumbent, especially at one of the upper offices that means so much to the party as a whole, it's pretty hard to make a change. sometimes we have to tolerate officeholders we don't really like because the alternative -- a republican -- is far worse. and we don't piss and moan about it; we get out and start working now to make sure next time around we have viable options. i'm not sure we have a viable option to ted -- and however much people dislike him, he's manifestly superior to mannix. that one is a no-brainer.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    t.a.

    I agree with everything you say about a bottom up approach to politics and I plan to work hard to give Dems control of the Legislature. If that is successful, I don't really think it matters all that much who the Governor really is. I so loathe the Kelvinator that I couldn't bring myself to vote for him no matter who opposes him. The problem with K is that he's untrustworthy. He'll stab his political friends and supporters in the back as quickly, if not more quickly, than his enemies. With friends like him, I don't need enemies.

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    J Biddy... You wrote "You can sit here and say Ted has more money, so you're going to vote for him in the primary, or you can sit here and say Ted has more money, but you're voting for Sorenson, Walker, Metzger, whoever the hell is running."

    Well, that's all fine and good if the question was "who are you voting for?" But that's NOT the question. The question was: What's your advice for Vicki Walker?

    In other words, can she win? And if not, should she a) run for governor anyway, or b) run for re-election to the senate?

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    I want a candidate who has the capability of taking out a sitting governor in a primary. Vicki Walker doesn't have high enough visibility in her short legislative history to give K a run for his money. IMHO, she's one of the better D's in the Senate; I'd prefer she stayed there and accumulated a larger constituency statewide by sponsoring legislation meaningful to the people of the state of Oregon.

  • j.biddy (unverified)
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    <h2>I don't think she should. However, the point I was trying to make is still valid under this discussion. A lot of people are dismissing any all candidates in the primary because of the money factor and not the character and voting record factor, which is much more important. No, like many of you I don't think Vicki Walker should go for the Gov, but I'm not going to utter in the same breath that none of the primary challengers should go for it because Ted has more money and we should settle for mediocre candidates because the public entertains the current mediocracy. That's all the point I was trying to make, which I think is fair under this topic, especially given the comments that have come before mine.</h2>
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