Yet Another Republican Quits the House

Following in the the footsteps of many of her colleagues, Republican Representative Patti Smith has announced that she will quit the legislature after this year. Smith represents House District 52.

From the Oregonian:

Another veteran Republican of the Oregon House -- Rep. Patti Smith of Corbett -- won't be seeking re-election this year.

That opens up another seat for Democrats to try to widen their slim 31-29 lead. Democrats Suzanne VanOrman and Steve Richkind have already filed for House District 52, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans.

Smith, who was first elected to the House in 2000, said it was "time to move on" and try new ventures. She said she will not return to Salem as a lobbyist.

"It's just a hard job. I think 8 years is enough," she said. "Every year we've had a special session and we're about ready to go into another one."

Smith is among some half a dozen Republicans who have decided against re-election. The list includes former House Speaker Karen Minnis, former Republican caucus leader Wayne Scott, budget whiz Susan Morgan and revenue expert Tom Butler

Read the rest. The Oregonian's Jeff Mapes had already listed District 52 as the 5th most likely to change party hands this year. Now with Smith retiring and an advantage in voter registration, could this be an easy win for Democrats?


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    Looks like Oregon has two Smiths on their way out!

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    …and a Barton on the way in? Support Brett Barton for HD 52!

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    Damn. Wrong district AND a messed-up link AND messed up name. BRENT Barton's running in HD 51, next door. Sorry…

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    This seems to be reflective of a trend on the Federal level as well. Daily Kos had a piece up this morning about yet another Rep. in up-state New York (who barely squeaked out a win in 06) is retiring which will only add to the strain of an overextended GOP who for the first time in recent memory is actually behind the Dems in fundraising and cash-on-hand.

    While the above piece is obviously about the State Leg., the more strain and spreading thin of GOP funding resources the better it is. The one and only time that "trickle-down" economics from the GOP has validity... that their retention, fund-raising and recruitment issues at the Federal level trickle-down to the state level as well.

  • MCT (unverified)

    What great news! Good-o Patti! Another Rush Limbaugh fan bites the dust! This is the district I live and vote in....I haven't felt my interests have been represented here for a long time. Maybe that will change.

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    Great to hear.

    Suzanne Van Orman (sp? sorry... net is real slow right now and I can't verify the spelling) ran last time. I'd heard she might be running once again.

    There is a great dem organization in Clackamas County's portion of HD 52. I'm sure they're very excited about her leaving.

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    That's the district I live in too, MCT. Since you comment under an alias here, I have no idea if you were at the last HD meeting or not, or if you've been active in trying to get Dems elected there.

    Anyhow, if you're in the Sandy area, come on down. We meet monthly in the old Movie theater at the west end of the Clackamas County Bank. If you're in the Hood River area,'s been a tough slog indeed getting activists organized up there, what with the whole anarchist windsurfer base that don't need no stinkin' badgers and the local leadership that seemed to think that the position was designed only to further inflate an already massive ego. Anyhow those days are over and help is needed.

    Me, I've been working (unsuccessfully) to get a Dem in there since the tail end of the Cramblett effort back in '02. At that time Larry had no support at all except for newly minted HD leader Walt Trandum, and the Party and the house caucus totally disrespected him and us. In fact that was one of the main motivators for me to get off of my dead butt and find out what the hell was going on in the respective orgs, and see what change was both needed and possible.

    In '04 we had a candidate who ran from the lofty mountain top, actively avoiding the volunteer org, although we recruited him on the advice of Deb Kafoury.

    We did get a lot of help organizing the district from Jill Thorn (State Vice Chair) who at the time was the Clack Dems chair.

    Still is. Wish we could clone her.

    By the end of that cycle, we'd begun to figure out and communicate with the party boys and the caucus kids a little bit.

    In '06, we finally got Suzanne Van Ormann, and we had a great guy, Jim Greenleaf from Hood River, who donated a bunch of time, money and effort, serving as her campaign manager. That effort got us to the high 40s, but commenters on this list aside, Patti is a very gracious individual and is well liked in the HD. She's definitely no Flores or Minnis, but the net effect was the same as she always voted in lockstep with the Farm Bureau and with Karen Minnis.

    If anybody deserves a break, it's Suzanne. Last race started with spinal surgery and she campaigned on crutches.

    She's a True Grit gurl for sure. She's been fundraising, driving back and forth across the mountain, to appear at events, and FuturePAC has been right there for us. She's got a campaign manager, Logan Egbert, and a pretty good support network, so we're hopeful.

    Besides the Merkley race, she's my other top priority.

    Go Suzanne!!!

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    Great to hear that Suzanne is indeed running again. I was pretty sure I had heard she was running again. I wish her all the luck. Wish I could help out, but I have two races here in Gresham (HD 49 and HD 50) plus my city council race.

    Wouldn't it be great if we took HDs 49, 50, 51, and 52?

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    if she didn't like special sessions, she might have pressed her leaders, QB Minnis and her Toady Scott, to practice some democracy and do the people's business in a responsible manner. she supported their efforts to undermine out state's government, and now she whines about it?


  • Logan Egbert (unverified)

    Pat is indeed correct that Suzanne is running!

    We are working overtime fundraising and getting Suzanne out to voters. I am proud to report that things are progressing very nicely. We are excited that the seat is open and prime for new leadership.

    We have a website up and running and welcome everyone to visit. If anyone would like to get involved with the campaign, please drop me an email.

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    And apparently she doesn't get that there is a difference between this "special session" and previous ones.

    Previously, house leadership failed to get the state's business done and it had to come back.

    This time it is to test out the concept of having annual sessions. They're looking at topics they don't get the chance to work on during the regular session. It also gives legislators a chance to address issues that pop up between sessions, such as State Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson's proposal to do something to ensure people's safety on the MAX in east county.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)

    Last cycle, it sounded as thought the House Dems wasted money on big name races when they could have spent a few bucks in places like Fossil and probably won. This time, I want to donate directly to candidates... can someone tell me the candidates who are likely to get little House Dem money but stand a good chance of winning??? Who was that guy in Fossil that shoulda won but for money?

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    Mike Ahern from Madras has a great chance in HD 59

    From the Bulletin: (subscription only) After a career as a Madras businessman, a stint as a city councilor and two terms on the Jefferson County Commission, Mike Ahern has his eye on the Statehouse.

    Ahern, 51, announced this week he will seek election to Oregon House District 59 seat, which represents a wide swath of north-central Oregon stretching from Black Butte Ranch to the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs reservation, and from The Dalles on the Columbia River to John Day.

    The surprise entry of one of the region’s best-known political figures immediately shakes up the field, and could give Democrats their best chance in a decade in an east-side legislative contest.


    A county native and a married father of threee, Ahern works now as a real estate agent but for 21 years owned and ran Ahern Grocery, and he opened and ran the Black Butte General Store.

    He is a member and past president of the Madras Kiwanis and former president of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

    Ahern is the only Democrat so far to enter the race; the only other candidate is Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, a businessman who was appointed in August after the resignation of former Rep. John Dallum, R-The Dalles, who took a job in Montana.

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    No, Peter. Last cycle, Republicans wasted nearly all their discretionary funds defending Karen Minnis. Democrats, meanwhile, focused on races they could win and then won them.

    There's a big difference between taking on an incumbent, who gets a 10% advantage right out the gate, and going for an open seat. The Democratic leadership of the house has our strategy exactly right.

  • LT (unverified)

    Steve, I have a question about this:

    "No, Peter. Last cycle, Republicans wasted nearly all their discretionary funds defending Karen Minnis. Democrats, meanwhile, focused on races they could win and then won them."

    First, somewhere on a disk I have saved all the FP emails I got asking for donations. The rotation went something like Brading, Brading, Brading, someone else, Brading, Brading, someone else, Brading.............I saved the emails because there are those of us who don't live in the Portland area who got tired of getting fundraising appeals for a candidate in the Portland area while so many downstate candidates were ignored.

    Second, anyone who says the criteria should be "R to D ratio" (as in "your candidate doesn't have a chance because of the lousy R to D ratio in the district" as if no state rep. election was ever decided within the margin of NAV registrants) after the Peralta and Gilbertson results of 2006 deserves to be laughed to scorn and not ever taken seriously again.

    Third, what omniscient oracle decided who fell into the category of "focused on races they could win "? Was it one or more people? Was it some kind of spreadsheet or other computer program? Why should those of us in "forgotten " districts (I live in a district which has elected both Republicans and Democrats and one of each party was later elected to statewide office) have any respect for such an anonymous crystal ball to control whether or not we suffer from another term of a Republican incumbent? Rumor has it that in one local district there was some sort of internal political game being played with FP funding so the 2004 candidate got no FP support and thus by a margin of several hundred votes the Republican incumbent won. But the next cycle, 2006, with FP support, the new candidate won overwhelmingly. Both the 2004 and 2006 candidates are old friends of mine and I think the 2004 candidate was ill treated. This is one reason I think we should entertain a discussion of all the PCOL suggestions about changing the election system, including questioning the legal status of pass throughs and debating the concept of nonpartisan legislature.

    I helped elect the first Democrat ever in my district--early 1980s, well before the creation of FP. It was a local campaign, locally organized, locally funded, run with minimal staff and lots of shoe leather. It was a true community victory when we won. I do not subscribe to the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient caucus campaign arm which makes decisions not transparent to the general public.

    Folks, the original Progressive movement was not about political machines (which some think is what caucus campaign organizations resemble) but exactly the opposite: it was about opening up the system for everyone. In that sense, the ability to recall elected officials was a Progressive measure, and so more recently was vote by mail.

    I know many are justly proud of the 2007 Democratic majority legislature. But just think what might have happened if just a fraction of the organizational support for Brading had gone to Peralta, Gilbertson, or some other candidate who might just have won. What if it had been a 32 or 33 majority?

    Somewhere I heard that the Rural Caucus of the State Democratic Party was discussing a way to support rural/ downstate candidates which don't get FP support.

    I agree with Peter and Stacey. We need to have more open criteria for how "Democrats" support candidates for state rep. If FP is a closed group of state reps (do they all vote on who to endorse or is that just done by a few members and staff using criteria not publicly discussed?) who decide who to fund in a private process, that is the opposite of democratizing that the anti-machine politicians of both parties practiced 100 years ago.

    I may not have agreed entirely with my grandfather's politics (he was a Republican elected official in Michigan) but by golly I am certainly proud that he was an anti-machine Republican who helped break his county party machine in the 1930s.

    Democrats need to decide as individuals if they support the current system of FP deciding who will win well in advance and then ignoring all the other candidates. Would it be better if everyone who runs for office was treated as someone deserving more respect than "sorry, your district has a lousy R to D ratio so we can't help you in any way"? Not everyone who runs (esp. in downstate districts) has access to an experienced campaign manager, someone they can trust who has the expertise to do C & E reports, organizational contacts to help with fundraising. Do we want a diverse group of high quality members who represent their districts, or only those who meet FP criteria because that is all that matters?

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    Suzanne has paid her dues. She has been the second tier candidate, and worked it hard with less help and less money than she might have wanted. She managed to do all of that without a lot of second guessing about what somebody else should be doing, so-o-o-o-o-o while there is a lot of second guessing here on Blue Oregon about a lot of things, this one's easy:

    Please donate to Suzanne here.

    Thank you.

  • sue brown (unverified)

    Is Jim Gilbertson going to run again in 59, or did the "smart people" overlook him for someone else?

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Suzanne is a great candidate who was a very successful Head Start Administrator in Hood River CO. She had a respectable showing last time and is in a good position for '08. Hood River is a good D county, but the rural portions of Mult. and Clack. Lean R by a clear margin. An attorney from Sandy has also filed as a Democrat.

    As for Jim Gilbertson, I was his manager last time and he did think of running for HD 59again, but was unsure. He finally decided to not run when Mike Ahern announced, realizing that Mike really wants it and will be a good candidate. It's a tough but winnable seat, as Jim almost showed us. Jim is thinking of running against Ferrioli for the Senate.

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