Ron Saxton: Conservative

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Ronsaxton_1Four years ago, I remember plenty of moderate Democrats saying things like, "You know, if Ron Saxton wins the GOP primary, he might get my vote. After all, he's not so bad..."

Even today, you hear Democrats arguing that if Ron Saxton wins the GOP primary, that he'd win the general election in a walk - with lots of Democrats voting for him. The assumption is that he's some kind of middle-of-the-road not-so-bad Republican.

Well, right-winger Rob Kremer (he of the school-voucher obsession) [correction - see comments] endorsed Ron Saxton last week, and listen for yourself. From Kremer's blog:

Before going into my reasons for supporting Ron, I want to address an important issue: lots of conservative bloggers have been trying to paint Ron Saxton as a liberal, or as an inauthentic Republican - a RINO.

Let me put it simply: They are wrong.

Ron is not only the most fiscally conservative candidate running for governor, I believe he has the best grasp of precisely what is wrong about they way Oregon government operates right now and how to correct it.

On social issues, Ron is conservative where it matters: he would sign a ban on partial birth abortion, and he supports parental notification.

Ron Saxton. Conservative. 'Nuff said.

  • Chris Crawford (unverified)

    There's an aspect to this piece that disturbs me. It's the "us-versus-them" mentality. Now, I understand the Republicans seem to have been the primary aficionados of this kind of politics, but I also think that two wrongs don't make a right. The tenor of the article suggests that we must oppose Mr. Saxton because he adheres to some of the beliefs that conservatives share. I think we should avoid such tribal thinking. Yes, he's not a member of our tribe -- but must politics be decided by tribal membership?

    Consider the three political positions attributed to Mr. Saxton:

    1. he is a fiscal conservative. I agree that Oregon is suffering from too little spending, but there's a fine point here: is he fiscally conservative in the sense of low-taxes sense or the low-spending sense? Yes, they go hand in hand, but much of our current logjam arises from a dogmatic insistence on low taxes. Is that the kind of fiscal conservatism Mr. Saxton endorses? The article doesn't say.

    2. He favors a ban on partial birth abortions. Let's face it, this enjoys the support of a great many people, not just conservatives. Remember, if we brook no compromise on abortion issues, we reduce our own credibility.

    3. He favors parental notification. While not as popular a position as the previous one, this notion still enjoys support outside of the conservative world. I'm not sure that this is a battle we can win. Perhaps we can, but the closeness of the call suggests that Mr. Saxton is not a flat-out enemy who must be opposed at all costs.

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    Kari: You write: "He of the school-voucher obsession."

    Can you please give me a single example of when I took a position in favor of school vouchers? In any column I wrote, blog post that I made, or statement on one of my several hundred radio broadcasts and TV news commentaries?

    I've been publishing and stating my political opinions in the public arena since about 1995. Never once have I advocated for vouchers.

    And you, a political insider who considers himself to be well informed about what is going on, write that I have a voucher "obsession?"

    Why should anybody take seriously what you have to say about anything?

  • Matt (unverified)

    Saxton also signed the no new taxes pledge (see so regardless of how moderate he wants to appear, or in some cases be, he has already painted himself into a corner. Grover Norquist and his cronies can use their state-based lackies like Russ Walker to flog this even if a responsible tax increase was warranted.

    Here's a list of the braintrust he has alligned himself with in Oregon:

    1. Jason Atkinson (S-2)
    2. Jackie Winters (S-10)
    3. Gary George (S-12)
    4. Gordon Anderson (H-3)
    5. Charles Starr (H-13)
    6. Jeff Kropf (H-17)
    7. Mac Sumner (H-18)
    8. Kevin Cameron (H-19)
    9. Brian Boquist (H-23)
    10. Kim Thatcher (H-25)
    11. Linda Flores (H-51)
    12. William Garrard (H-56)
    13. Kevin Mannix - Candidate for Governor

    On the fedreal level this was started by Dick Armey; whose proteges include the ever scrupulous Tom Delay.

    Is this so moderate? No way. Wolf in sheep's clothing? Definately.

  • Matt (unverified)
    • Correction -

    Before anyone pounces - the pledge was started by Grover Norquist in 1985. But, Dick Armey has taken up the same banner under Freedomworks/Citizens for a Sound Economy.

    • End Correction -

    To restate - pledges are used to ensure a certain type of governance and create trouble when they are not met. So, its important to note what he has pledged to do...

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    Yeah, he went from opposing Measure 7 in 2000 to supporting Measure 37 on his web site these days. Run to the right... scary.

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    I apologize. Should have said "charter-school obsession". I'm fixing it now.


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    On second thought, I'll redact any comments about you, Rob. I'll keep this post focused on Ron Saxton.

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    Chris... I'd argue that 'tribal thinking' would be opposing him purely because he's got an (R) after his name. But it is perfectly reasonable to oppose Saxton because he's an ideological conservative.

    In other words, I oppose him because he's wrong on the issues. Or, would you have us support people we believe are wrong in the interest of being nice guys?

    (Of course, is Ron Saxton doesn't consider himself a conservative - he's welcome to say so right here.)

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)


    The No New Taxes Pledge in Oregon was started by Don McIntire in the 1990's and it is his organization, the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, that promotes it.

    Russ Walker/Freedomworks has nothing to do with the tax pledge in Oregon.

    You post incorrect things with such authority, that I'm wondering if you aren't really Kari writing under a different name.

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    Oh, the conspiracy theories run wild... Whoever 'Matt' is, it ain't me.

  • Matt (unverified)

    Pancho -

    Here is what the press release on Saxton said:

    "The Pledge began with Ronald Reagan and Americans for Tax Reform almost 20 years ago, and currently there are over 1200 state lawmakers and 11 governors and lieutenant governors who are sitting pledge signers." (

    That's all I am saying, and no I am not Kari. I am simply a guy with an internet connection who can use google. Pancho (Lars?) you should try that sometime.

  • steve schopp (unverified)

    Kari, Nice redacting. You left the inaccurate "obsession with vouchers" readable while adding "obsession with charter schools".

    In regard to charters, (Rob can speak for himself) but from what I have observed it would be far more accurate to use "obsession" in describing the opposition to charter schools than Kremer's contribution to establishing the successful charter school law and various charter schools. I might add your camp's 15 year obsession with CIM/CAM. Was that moderate?

    To the way out there extremely left Evan Manvel, (He is of the Bike/Ped/rail & high density obsession) with 60% of Oregonians voting for M37 there is nothing "scary" about Saxton being among the 60%.
    With so much currently surfacing which displays a mounting discrediting of the planning you embrace I wonder how you, and yours, remain unwavering in your obsession with continuing the status quo. Perhaps you could share your current thoughts on any of the latest issues such as SoWa, Tram, OHSU, Convention Center Hotel, Urban renewal, Transit mall/light rail, Columbia Crossing and Burnside Couplet?
    In another thread of course. And please share whether or not you find any flaws in any of them and if you want them all fully funded and completed. Perhaps then, many more people would be able to better determine what truly is extreme and/or an obsession.

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    Matt: Is that somehow a rebuttal to Pancho? That's odd....

    You say that the pledge is connected to FreedomWorks/Dick Armey. Pancho says no, it is TAO, unconnected with Freedom Works,

    You come back with proof that the pledge started with Americans for Tax Reform. Which of course has no connection to FreedomWorks.

    Am I missing something?

    Kari: Apology accepted.

  • Matt (unverified)

    Rob -

    Point taken - let me explain a little deeper.

    I didn't think it was a big secret that these groups work together.

    ATR coordinates the "no new taxes pledge," and Freedomworks lists on its agenda for tax increases.

    I do not think that it is a leap to assume that these groups work in coalition. And the reason I came back with the other piece is that Pancho credited Don McIntire in the 90s - that is what I was rebutting.

    On the freedomworks/taxpayer association/movement conservative side...

    My point is that Saxton seems to allign himself with this crowd. Am I wrong? If he lives up to the pledge (which I assume he will, he seems like an honest guy) then that's his camp. Or at least that camp has an expectation that he is with them because of the "pledge."

    And...therefore, he is a conservative. Which was the initial point of the post. I think that's great - run as a conservative. Let's have the debate, just don't package him as a moderate. My guess is that even conservatives are having this discussion too - its probably a difficult choice w/in their camp too.

    Pledges, for better or worse, just show a candidates true colors and give interests groups some leverage for later on. That's a truth in politics, whether we like it or not everyone seems to go after this sort of strategy.

    If Saxton is not going to allign himself with these people, then why sign their pledge?

    Also - Rob what is the best place to learn about Saxton's conservative or moderate credentials? Blogs are interesting but, I am never sure which is the best resource and what can be too much hyperbole?

  • Chris Crawford (unverified)

    Kari, I agree that we don't want to support this guy. My reservation -- and I'm not staking a do-or-die position here -- is that he seems to be less objectionable than some of the conservative folk out there. I'd still prefer a genuine progressive candidate over this guy, but in the larger scheme of things, I'd prefer to save our gunpowder for more dangerous prey.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    I'm not sure how much "partying" Ron Saxton did in college, but he has the worst short-term memory problem in town.

    When he was on the PPS School Board he b!tched and moaned about unequal, unfair funding for schools. Every Monday night around 7pm down on Dixon. I was usually in the front row trying to stay awake.

    Now that Ron wants to leave his corner partner office at Atter Wynne downtown for some real work, he says schools got plenty.

    So, too much Mexican ditch weed or typical GOP hypocrisy?

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    I'm not sure how much "partying" Ron Saxton did in college, but he has the worst short-term memory problem in town.

    When he was on the PPS School Board he b!tched and moaned about unequal, unfair funding for schools. Every Monday night around 7pm down on Dixon. I was usually in the front row trying to stay awake.

    Now that Ron wants to leave his corner partner office at Atter Wynne downtown for some real work, he says schools got plenty.

    So, too much Mexican ditch weed or typical GOP hypocrisy?

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    I consider Ron Saxton a friend. He and his wife are dedicated to doing good in the community. They are likeable, thoughtful, and considerate. They are moderate in temperment.

    Having said that, I can not accept the policies that he is espousing. The anti-tax crowd creeps me out and if Ron has taken the anti-tax pledge he can not solve the state's problems. We are at the bottom in the country for the corporate tax burden in spite of what the anti-tax crowd likes to spout when they selectively choose their data. This robs us of the funds for basic infrastructure whether roads, schools, or universities.

    If Kremmer is right and Ron believes that we need more roads and less light rail I can not support him.

    If he believes that we need to weaken our land use laws that make Oregon the best state to live in the country I can not support him.

    What I can not tell in this discussion is whether this is Ron speaking or Kremmer. It would be great if Ron could respond.

  • Sid (unverified)

    Sid L-

    Now I know why people confuse us: It's not that we have the same name, but we both love snark. It must be in the name.

    Did Saxton attend the UofO in the 70s or something?

  • pdxdem (unverified)

    I just cant trust Ron. The whole "I am a moderate" worked in 2000 with Bush. I feel that Ron would be the wrost thing to happen to oregon in the history of the state. Well maybe a tie with Karen Minnis. I think we all have to agree that conseratives have really screwed our nation up as a whole in recent history. Lets not start screwing up our beautiful state by even entertaining the idea of voting for Ron Saxton.

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)

    Vouchers or charter schools? What difference does it make? Just make sure the parents have as little influence as possible on what's best for their kids.

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    What's the matter? Is the rain making you cross? The deal is Ted will benefit from a Saxton/Mannix contest. Republicans are in for a tough time because slime/corruption has driped all the way from the White House to the Republican candidates.

    When Kitz held his news conference to announce he wasn't running for Guv, did anyone notice the very small crowd in attendance? Most of the mics on the podeum were from radio stations? The "O" tried to engineer a story that wasn't really a story. Kitz just wanted some press time to try to sell his health plan.

    Meanwhile, a steady climb in jobs and the Oregon economy are on Ted's watch; something that never happened while Kitz slept through his second term.

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    Nice redacting. You left the inaccurate "obsession with vouchers" readable while adding "obsession with charter schools".

    As a blogo-clarifier here, Steve, let me point out that it's standard practice not to delete content on a post once it's up. You can cross out a misstatement for accuracy, but bloggers have taken the view that doctoring a post after its been up, without letting people see what was originally up isn't ethical. Blame Kari for the initial error, but not the correction. Or don't blame him; after all, none of us get paid around here.

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    From an email the GOP sent out this afternoon from Ron Saxton:

    As it stands, Oregon spends $150 million more than most states on school operations, administration and maintenance. In a Saxton administration we will put that money into the classroom by privatizing and reducing administrative and support services. I am a strong supporter of charter schools, home schooling and school choice, and I will defend local control of schools. And as Governor, I will close underperforming schools, remove underperforming teachers and ensure our students are spending more days in the classroom so they are prepared for college and the challenges of the 21st century economy.

    There's your moderate, folks.

  • TimC (unverified)

    Saxton says:

    "I will defend local control of schools.

    And as Governor, I will close underperforming schools"

    Does anyone else have trouble reconciling these two opposing statements? Perhaps it should say "I will defend local control of schools, except when I don't".

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)

    "I am a strong supporter of charter schools, home schooling and school choice,..."

    He'll get my vote just for that statement.

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    Tim C thanx for the post. Saxon wants to privatize school administrators and close underperforming schools. Since school sucess is directly tied to the socio-economic level of students and is the best and most reliable predictor of school performance I guess there will be lots of closed schools in the poorest towns and neighborhoods in the state of Oregon. If his plan goes through, I've got a fleet of yellow school buses ready to bus all the kiddos to the performing schools. Yikes!

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    How will Ron Saxton differentiate between underperforming schools and underperforming students?

    If one of our poorest schools in inner-city Portland manages, against all odds, to send 25% of its students to college - well, that's fantastic. But if one of our wealthiest suburban schools manages to send only 50% of its students to college -- well, that's terrible.

    A school can underperform but have high-achieving kids. A school can also achieve great things, but still have plenty of underperforming students.

    I want to know how anyone can tell the difference.

  • steve schopp (unverified)

    """How will Ron Saxton differentiate between underperforming schools and underperforming students?"""

    He'll just ask the ODE and the teacher's union.

    Now you got to admit,,

    That was funny.

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    Kari: The question you ask is precisely the correct one. Riverdale Elementary School, despite the fact that a high percentage of its kids meet state standard, is a crappy school. Why? Because its kids start out high due to socioeconomic status, and don't get better.

    On the other hand, there are several PPS schools that are far better in terms of taking kids who are below standard and raising their achievement.

    The system we now have that tells us how schools perform - CIM/CAM and the statewide assessments -- do almost nothing to answer this question. All they do is tell us how many kids meet standard, which unsurprisingly tell us that Riverdale is a great school and Jefferson sucks.

    The example I always use: how about the fifth grader in NE Portland who starts the year reading at the second grade level and ends reading at the fourth grade level. Takes the fifth grade test as required by NCLB at the end of the year and fails - the school is deemed a failure, even though it raised his achievement two years in one school year.

    On the other hand - take Riverdale: fifth grader starts year at fifth grade reading level and ends the year at same level, then takes the fifth grade reading test and meets standard. That school is deemed to have suceeded.

    The problem is our current system has far too may of these type A and Type B errors - false positives and false negatives. If we had a different assessment system, we could avoid this. That is one reason I have been on a 10 year Jihad (WWeek's term) against CIM/CAM - the assessment system simply identified for us which schools had affluent parents. Gee, that helps.

    Susan Castillo recently announced that she will propose that Oregon become one of ten states that are allowed to pilot a different type of assessment system, one that shows growth year to year for each student rather than simply telling us what percentage of students met standard.

    I have long advocated for precisely this kind of system, and am happy to support Castillo's efforts in getting it done in Oregon.

    Ron Saxton is 100% in agreement with this as well. It will, at long last, allow us to tell the difference between effective schools and effective parents.

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    A school can underperform but have high-achieving kids. A school can also achieve great things, but still have plenty of underperforming students.

    I want to know how anyone can tell the difference.

    As Rob says above, it's not that hard. Just measure each school's yearly progress against prior years. And track each student cohort to track yearly progress they make. There should be improvement each year and steadily over time. For all student socio-economic groups.

    The real trick is finding some combination of teaching method, community support, and parental/family support that works and can be learned and replicated across all schools that will reliably and consistently improve student performance, without busting the budget.

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    Well, Rob, looks like you and I agree on one thing. Measuring schools is tough. I don't know enough to know how to go about it, but am glad to hear that Castillo is taking a whack at it. Also, glad to hear that you're supporting her in it.

    Check it out, BlueOregonians, right here on this blog -- a Democratic politician is commended by a former Republican opponent.

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    Rob Kremer is correct when it comes to school assessment. He is accurate in his comments about rating schools. The CIM/CAM mess drove out some of the best educators in our state because they understood that students were not being assessed appropriately. Depth of curriculum for students will always win over state guidelines. Schools literally dumbed down to meet the CIM/CAM standards.

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    If Kari has identified the problem, Rob has refined it. One of the problems in measuring schools is whether to use the school or the child as the unit of measurement. This is a classic statistical quandry, and both methods have pros and cons.

    The thing I don't like is setting a standard by which all schools must be judged--that's the worst of both worlds. It means that the bar for high-performance schools is too low (which means it won't serve as an institutional incentive, and may actually blunt innovation), and for low-performance schools, it doesn't reward improvement that still falls beneath the line.

    I suspect Rob will agree with me on this one, too, although we'd probably address it differently in implementation: trying to solve the question of education with a single instrument is bound to fail due to the radically different circumstances schools and students find themselves in. It's a one size fits none prescription.

    I'd listen to Saxton's solutions, but when I read his press release, I heard red meat for social and fiscal conservatives, not actual solutions to help students.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    The biggest problem with "No Lobbyist Left Behind" is that one kid can fail one test... in a school of 1000 children... and the school is called "Loserville".

    Doesn't matter if the student's father was thrown in jail last night by his goofy step-mom. Doesn't matter if his Aunt Kendra was gunned down in the street like a dog. Doesn't matter if his uncle was fired from Tri-Met for nearly running down a bicyclist.


    Like Whitaker.


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