The war inside the Oregon GOP continues

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Well, this sure is interesting: The Conservative Majority Project.

The Oregon Republican Party desperately needs new blood and new leadership. The Conservative Majority Project, with your help, will identify and elect this new leadership. ...

The Republican Party desperately needs skilled and courageous people to step into the arena of ideas and challenge both the "Certified Smart People" and the establishment class who are running this state.

It seems that this Conservative Majority Project was launched right around the same time that legislative candidate Matt Wingard's criminal history was revealed in the media. As was noted here on BlueOregon, Wingard's continuing candidacy has unveiled a serious split within the ranks of the Oregon GOP - with "establishment" Republicans wanting him gone, and "conservative" Republicans defending him. (As if there's a difference in the modern Oregon GOP.)

One of the CMP's board members is Rob Kremer (a one-time candidate for Supt. of Public Instruction) -- who posted a vigorous defense of Wingard on his blog. It's no surprise, then, that one of the three candidates featured by the CMP is Matt Wingard himself.

Of course, the CMP isn't off to a very auspicious start. They've only raised $5100 - almost all of it from Paul Farago, a right-wing activist and donor.

You know the the right-wing in Oregon is down and out when they start tearing into each other and fighting over meaningless scraps of carrion.


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    The weird thing about our system is, no matter how badly a major party falls apart (in practical terms), it will be guaranteed a spot on General Election ballots. That alone guarantees that the party will find a way to weather this storm and revive itself, one way or another.

    A more sensible approach would be the Open Primary system, which should be on the ballot next fall. Under the Open Primary, parties must earn their way onto the General Election ballot, on a level playing field. If a party should get way out of step with its core constituencies, it would pay the consequences immediately.

    (Disclosure: I'm a consultant for the Open Primary campaign, but I'm speaking for myself.)

  • JHL (unverified)

    Actually Kari, it looks like they've raised only $5100... and made a sole expenditure of $2.

    That's cute.

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    Aha - you're right, JHL! Fixed the post.

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    You political sharpies MUST be aware of the fact that C&E reporting is done right now (until we get closer to the election) in 30 day cycles, right?

    We started laying the groundwork for the CMP in January. We got a nice contribution to pay for the expenses of start-up, web site, etc.

    We launched the web site on Friday.

    So, of course there are no other contributions in the January report. The only expenditures that month were a $2 bank fee.

    Also - the CMP was not motivated by the Matt Wingard situation, although I fully expect that it will help Matt's campaign. And the CMP is not warring with the Republican party.

    But thanks for the mention, however dismissive your tone, there's not such thing as bad publicity.

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    I think it's premature to discount the impact that Rob's effort will have. My view is that it is likely to push the GOP further away from the Oregon electorate. The issue is not that the GOP is out of tune with its base, the issue is that the GOP is out of tune with the rest of Oregon's electorate.

    What they need, in order to reverse their declining relevance is to start recruiting more candidates like Vic Atiyeh or Norma Paulus, not more candidates like Kim Thatcher.

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    I'm with Sal in hoping that the Grover and Rob and the rest of the Hair Club guys continue to ignore the fact that not only Moderates, but Constitution Party, and Red Letter Christians, and well........actual Adam Smith Libertarians (you know, the ones that have read more of Smith than the single paragraph on the Invisible Hand), have had a buttful of mean spirited and destructive political approach that villifies everyone and every effort not sanctioned by the self styled adults in the rapidly shrinking "leadership" of the State Republican Party.

    We Old Guys remember the extirpation of Paulus, Hatfield, McCall and other moderates in the '80s and '90s. Now comes the Second Wave, as Republicans again decline to run enmasse on the Suicide Platform.

    Looks like the Republican electorate is rejecting the Forever War Neo-Cons and their Borrow and Spend Objectivist allies at the Cascade Policy Institute.

    Time will tell.

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    Pete Forsyth: [N]o matter how badly a major party falls apart (in practical terms), it will be guaranteed a spot on General Election ballots

    That's because there's a difference between a party "falling apart" because of a disagreement among its leaders and activists, and a falling apart of its base - the millions of voters who support it. The system we have now is, in my opinion, correctly tilted towards the regular party members, not internal elites.

    Pete Forsyth: Under the Open Primary, parties must earn their way onto the General Election ballot, on a level playing field.

    This isn't an Open Primary system. It's a Top Two system.

    Under it, all third parties will be completely frozen out from being on the general election ballot. Also, in a Top Two system, a contested primary on one side could easily cause none of the candidates to win. Imagine a 2 way split among the GOP, each candidate getting 20% of the vote, and a split among 5 Democratic candidates, the top getting only 19%. Never mind that the Democratic winner is overwhelmingly the favorite in the general, we're stuck choosing between two Republicans.

    And you call this reform?

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    The scenario you lay out is a technical possibility, but there are lots of reasons why it won't play out that way. But let's suppose it happens somewhere: if Democrats were so disorganized as to allow it to happen, why would you blame the system, rather than the party, or the candidates? And would it be the end of the world for a Republican to get elected in that scenario? The one who wins the General Election would be the one who makes the most effective appeal to those who didn't vote R in the primary, so you'd likely get a more reasonable Republican out of it.

    Meanwhile, we have election after election in our current system where there is no real choice in the general election. In many districts, the real decision is made in the Democratic or Republican primary…by a tiny fraction of the electorate, with an average age of 60. (Yes, 60.)

    Also, in your scenario, you're "stuck" choosing between two candidates who connected with their community well enough to earn a lot of votes. Forget party labels for just a sec -- how is that a bad thing?

    A system that provides incentive for a candidate to reach out to his/her entire district, rather than a small, partisan group within it, is indeed a positive reform; I'd say it's a strong step toward restoring democracy.

  • Dev (unverified)

    Great points Steve M. I also think that Pete's response is an interesting one. He argues that your scenario would only play out if the party were "disorganized." I guess that in order to be better "organized" the party bosses would need to settle on a candidate before the primary. In other words, we would be trading in a system where the party's candidate is chosen democratically for a system where the party bosses choose candidates for us. Sounds like a huge step backwards to me.

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    it's kind of amusing that we're in a position, at least statewide, to worry more about an attack on the primary system than any kind of resurgence of the Rs. as Sal pointed out, they are growing less relevant to Oregon and its voters; as long as the Dems remember that lesson and heed it, we can remain dominant (and worthy of that dominance).

    a primary election, of course, is meant to select a political party's candidates for electoral offices. parties can choose to hold nominating conventions, which is the route third parties need to go at this time, but it does allow them access to the general election while preserving the right of Democrats and Republicans to decide who represents them. the "Open Primary" is a sham. pure and simple. i'm a Democrat, and i don't see why anyone but a registered Democrat should select candidates who run as the nominee of my party. we need electoral reform, of course, but this ain't it. it's just a new way of broken.

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    The Oregon Supreme Court agreed that what is proposed is not an "Open Primary," but a fundamental change in the nomination process, and removed the term "open primary" from the ballot title and summary. Initiative petition #109 basically proposes running all partisan elections in Oregon except for President the way non-partisan elections are run.

    The scenario Steve described is much more than a technical possibility. Funny that a "technical possibility" is accepted in this case, when it comes to denying Democratic voters the opportunity to choose their nominee from among a slate of Democrats. But then when it comes to a technical possibility of a technical possibility, the possible influence of the big bad unpledged delegates to the national convention, we should be marching in the streets?

  • Holly Martins (unverified)

    Progressives need to cultivate and water this little conservative weed patch as much as possible. As Sal said, if it has any consequence at all it will be to shove the Republican Party even more into the land of irrelevance, and that’s a good thing.

    Hey, guys -- win an election to two (and I mean for something other than dog catcher in Lakeview) running on a far-right agenda and then you can talk about some sort of emerging conservative majority in Oregon.

    You guys are pretty good theatre though. Your whole house is on fire, and instead of looking for help putting it out, you’re calling your friends over for a weenie roast.

    Good luck with all that – And remember cons – this November: No Rinos!

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    "Open Primary" is a sham.

    I agree, but don't exactly understand the differents between that and Fusion Voting.

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    They're almost diametric opposites, Robert. Fusion Voting allows minor parties to place any candidate on the ballot that they want, including a major party candidate. So, for example, if the Working Families Party decided to nominate Barak Obama to be their candidate for President in the general election, they could.

    This creates a dynamic where major parties still get to choose who their nominee is, but may be reasonably influenced to try to get the nomination of a minor party.

    This Top Two system says that the top two vote getters are the only ones allowed on the final ballot. It guarantees that in 99% of all elections, only the major parties will be able to field candidates. To me, it's blatantly unconstitutional. Period.

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    Does anyone besides me and "Holly Martins" remember who that character was?

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    I have to emphasize the name of the organization -- The Conservative Majority Project. I also can't help but note that the stated mission is quite similar to that of another project in town -- The Oregon Bus Project.

  • LT (unverified)

    Steve, there are a variety of points of view on fusion voting, and not all of them favorable. (And not just because "well, they do it in NY" eads some to quote the old Pace Picante Sauce "NEW YORK CITY?!!" ad).

    A friend and I were discussing Sec. of State primary and I said I had narrowed it down to 2. He said that was fine but the 2 both favored fusion voting and he didn't for these reasons:

    *a look at a sample fusion voting ballot could make some people decide they don't want fusion voting. (Bloggers can say all they want along the lines of "but aren't Oregon voters as smart as NY voters?" That doesn't change the fact that voting procedures would be changed and in a lot more complex way than when we went to vote by mail--which some people still have not totally accepted. Is a voter who says "I work full time, have small children, and a elder relative who needs help---and now you are going to make voting more complicated? WHY?" a person who lacks intelligence? Or a person whose life is complicated enough already, thank you very much!"?)

    • concern about cost--can fusion voting really be done with the same amount of dollars now spent on current vote by mail?

    • technical concerns: --would recounts be more complicated? ---erasures or other mistakes causing problem ballots, and whether a ballot where someone tried to change their mind but didn't request a replacement ballot would end up having their ballot counted as 2 votes for the same race and thus the vote in that race is thrown out.

    I know there are people who hate Top 2.

    I also know that not all districts have more than 2 parties involved.

    Best example: House District 25 in 2004. There were only 3 candidates: Backlund, Thatcher, Pike.

    Talk about an internal GOP war! Establishment Republicans favored Backlund, but the Measure 30 folks backed Thatcher, and they were "on a roll" after their ballot measure campaign. She won the GOP primary (but it was less than a 300 vote margin in Marion County). Pike (who in hindsight should have gotten more support from establishment Democrats) lost to Thatcher in the general election.

    Would Working Families or any other party have gone to the district described as "Newberg, St. Paul, Keizer and all the rural land in between" to run another candidate or to adopt one of the candidates?

    Sometimes fusion voting sounds like a theory which might or might not please people if there was a crusade to implement it. Imagine a Rotary Club or the current events hour in a church basement or a senior center. I'm still waiting to read an account of a fusion voting advocate who has spoken to such a nonpolitical audience and stayed to answer every question. I'd like to know how such an audience would react to such a presentation.

    Plus the fact that without buy-in from county clerks, I don't see it being implemented in the near future.

    Given how well known Backlund was to the local population (who weren't necessarily willing to change their registration to GOP simply to vote in that primary), I think there is a good chance that the result of that primary in Top 2 format would have been Backlund, Pike, Thatcher. Then we would have been spared these last 2 sessions of little Miss "we must have spending discipline but don't ask for details because we must have spending discipline".

  • Miles (unverified)

    a primary election, of course, is meant to select a political party's candidates for electoral offices. . . . the "Open Primary" is a sham. pure and simple. i'm a Democrat, and i don't see why anyone but a registered Democrat should select candidates who run as the nominee of my party.

    This argument would be stronger if the Democratic party wasn't using taxpayer money from ALL taxpayers to pay for their primary. Currently everyone pays, but only we party members get to decide who the nominees are for November. I'm fine restricting participation to only party members -- so long as we only use party money to pay for it.

    The other reason that we should support open primaries is to punish our Democratic leaders for supporting HB 2614 in 2005, which took away my right to sign a nominating petition for an independent if I also wanted to vote in my party primary -- even if I abstained from voting in the particular race the independent was running for.

    Those two things should convince everyone to support open primaries.

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    Sue H: Hi, I've seen your comments a lot, but don't think we've ever "talked." Strange way to meet someone, on a blog, but...well...nice to meet you!

    On the name "Open Primary," current partisan primaries are closed to non-affiliated voters, third party members, and those who sign petitions for non-affiliated candidates. Whatever the Supreme Court says, I am using a name that is well known. If you prefer to call it Top Two, like Steven, or something else, that's fine by me -- I'll know what you're talking about.

    In response to what you and Dev say, I have no problem with parties of all stripes having some influence over elections. If five viable Democrats find themselves competing against two viable Republicans in a certain district (Steven's example, and one I claim would be fairly uncommon), I have no doubt -- and see no problem -- with them making some tough decisions and thinning their own field a bit. Does this limit voter choice a bit? Sure. To an extent I'm going to lose sleep over? Not likely. And it's not like that will be a new phenomenon -- just look at Merkley vs. Novick vs. Frohnmayer. Politics involve pressure and tough decisions. Good candidates find a way to deal with it.

    But as I said before, the present system is plenty undemocratic. Every single General Election ballot I've filled out since I came here in 1991 has been full of choices that are not really choices. Ever hear of William Cornett? Me neither, well, except that he's the guy that got 16% of the vote as a Republican against my rep, Ben Cannon. What is a General Election -- an election on training wheels? Call me naive, but I thought those were where big decisions were supposed to be made. A choice that is not a choice is a poor excuse for an election. A system that makes them commonplace is a system in need of reform.

    Steven M: I don't have legal training, so I defer to your knowledge in general -- but I'm not convinced you're fully informed in this case. To my understanding, the constitutional problem with similar systems is this: parties should not be compelled to nominate a candidate who is chosen by non-members. That's as it should be. But the 2008 version of the Open Primary initiative makes it abundantly clear that nomination is not at issue. Parties will not nominate candidates, they will have the option to endorse candidates. Candidates will have the option to accept or ignore the endorsements, and if accepted, the endorsements will appear on the ballot -- as endorsements, not as nominations.

    This also speaks to your notion that Open Primary and Fusion Voting are nearly "diametric opposites." Not so. The Open Primary would, in fact, share the most essential elements of Fusion Voting, and would be perfectly compatible with full Fusion Voting. The only thing absent from Open Primary, as I understand it, is multiple lines; with Open Primary, a candidate endorsed by, say, Dems and Greens would only get one line on the ballot, with both endorsements listed next to it.

    Note that endorsements could change between the Primary and General. In your initial example, the Democratic party would still have a significant card to play in the General: they could choose to endorse one of the Republicans.

    Miles: Your two reasons are exactly the two that first attracted me to Open Primary. Nice to hear I'm not the only one. I know there was an effort to undo 2614 in last year's session, but don't know if it was successful – anybody know?

  • Anon (unverified)

    Who in God's name would defend Wingard after what he's admitted to doing!?

    Unbelievable! If he was a Democratic pol, the GOP loud-mouths would be purple with rage (and using it to try to smear every Democrat in the state as some kind of immoral anti-family demon). As he has an (R) after his name, however, it's a different story!

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    LT: Thanks for the HD 25 example. You're clearly more familiar with that race than I am, but it sounds like exactly the sort of race where Open Primary would make a positive difference. Candidates who show an ability to connect with their constituents over two elections, and against different fields, earning the job. Imagine that!

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    Whatever the Supreme Court says, I am using a name that is well known.

    Sure, it's well known, as something different from what is proposed here. Some states have "open primaries." They allow voters who are not members of a party to participate in choosing that party's nominee. They don't obliterate the concept of a party nominee as this proposal does.

    Here's the judgement in the ballot title review:

  • Paul Farago (unverified)

    BO: Thanks for recognition of the new Conservative Majority Project.

    However, you must stand corrected on the false title of this post and the false label pinned on me.

    First, the real political war going on is in the Democratic Party, with voters being sliced and diced by race and gender "identity politics" (a/k/a 'pandering'). It has become such a staple of the leftist media that most folks do not even recognize it as distasteful ... it's just 'the way things are.' We can do better.

    Secondly, many folks who identify with "progress" are wholly unfamiliar with the 100+ years of collectivist traditions - starting in Germany - that underpin Leftism. However, favoring American traditions such as Constitutionalism, the rule of law, and individual rights over mob-rule and group-think is not right-wing at all. It's pretty darn mainstream to most folks - including Democrats.

    I realize that boning up on history is unlikely to have any effect on echo-chamber lefitsts. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote ... "So it goes."

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    Pandering to bigots and homophobes doesn't count as "identity politics", I suppose.

    This notion of "collectivism" did not start in corporatist Germany, as your ill-informed, Goldbergesque, comment implies.

    Some of us trace it to a document that begins with the phrase ... "We the People".

    Others among us trace its origins to a man who sacrificed himself to save the human race, and whose ministry encouraged us to remember "I am my brother's keeper".


  • unbelievable (unverified)

    You have got to be kidding me!

    Sal are you really going to make the claim that the Unites States of America was founded upon collectivst principles? Really?

    Thank you for making Paul Farago's case!

    So you would have us believe that the only country ever founded upon the concept that rights are vested in the individual, that they come from God, and that the government is established to secure these rigts - that THIS is COLLECTIVISM?

    I thought I had seen a lot of really, really stupid statements in BO.

    This one beats them all.

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    ....many folks who identify with "progress" are wholly unfamiliar with the 100+ years of collectivist traditions - starting in Germany - that underpin Leftism.

    However, favoring American traditions such as Constitutionalism, the rule of law, and individual rights over mob-rule and group-think is not right-wing at all. It's pretty darn mainstream to most folks - including Democrats.

    Where to start:

    First you identify progressivism as synonymous with collectivism, which is of course, false and I'd bet the farm that you understand exactly how untrue it is.

    Progressivism springs from the enlightenment philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and Smith. These guys are also cited frequently as the early sources of libertarian thought.

    Simplistic attributions by Jonah Goldberg aside, your assertions don't seem to be grounded in any actual research other than maybe having read some Ayn Rand back in your college days.

    A large slice of philosophical debate since the 18th century has been about how to balance the needs and rights of the individual with those of the group.

    The debate continues, but your ill-informed rants do little to cotribute to the discourse.

    Here's a quick argument on the origins of the tradition:

    By the 18th century, the concepts of science, reason and technology came to be conflated with the idea of progress, in a way very much in line with what Bacon believed. Of course progress was an originally Renaissance idea and a rather controversial one at that. It is not difficult to see how the reliance upon tradition and authority as sources of knowledge and guidance would tend toward a very conservative approach to public policy. It was only with the groundbreaking success of Newtonian science that progress by way of reason and science came to be less controversial as it came to supplant conserving the past by way of tradition and authority.

    Given that Newtonian mechanics had come to be the paradigm of progressive knowledge, it is not surprising that it was promptly used by numerous thinkers as a model to how reason and science could be applied to other fields as well. Montesquieu put forth a natural theory of social relationships, essentially founding sociology. The America founding fathers took reason, rather than religious tradition and/or authority as an approach to the establishment and maintenance of political organizations. Hume attempted to establish a scientific approach to the mind in his theories of mental association. Hume’s good friend, Adam Smith founded a scientific theory of economics. The relative success of science within each of these fields only served to strengthen the general confidence in reason as a source of knowledge and guidance. This confidence waxed so strong that the Bible began to be studied “scientifically,” creating as much of a tension between reason and religious tradition as can be imagined.

    As science, reason and progress came to be conflated the interesting question arises as to why the Western world of the 18th century was so incredibly receptive to such ideas? Indeed, was the success of science, Newtonian mechanics in particular, the cause of the ideological response of the public, or was the ideology of the public the cause of the success in science? I am inclined to think that in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was a combination of the two, one feeding off of the other. However, I suspect that the original push came from the need to find some way of distinguishing two traditional and authoritative claims to truth, i.e. Catholic and Protestant. The inevitable consequence of the religious wars was the decline of religious authority, and something had to take its place as a source for guidance and knowledge. Science and other forms of human reason were simply the most obvious and available sources to fill that gap.

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    "Collectivism" as a term of abuse designed to lump everyone it's applied to (which usually begins with moderate conservatives & moves left) seems to have two roots -- people who see themselves influenced by Ayn Rand and people who see themselves influenced by Ludwig von Mises.

    Historically it is bunk in the form advanced here.

    Conservatives of course have their own very deep "collectivist" or communitarian tradition. The self-regarding, former Jesse Helms publicist pundit George F. Will likes to identify himself as a "tory" to distinguish himself from the more knee-jerk markets-are-god conservatives, placing himself in the tradition of Edmund Burke -- whose great definition of conservatism was exactly the conservation of tradition, and the defense of a kind of community, an organic collectivity, different from that favored by left-wing believers in community, social mutual support, solidarity, whatever you wish to call it mainly in its belief in inherent, properly ordered inequality. If you look at the great debates over the disruptions caused by untrammelled market forces in 19th century England, often the backers of the most pro-worker, anti-employer's right to exploit as much as they could extort in "free contract" under contract-or-starve terms, were Tory members of parliament.

    The "collectivism" in Germany 130 years or so ago was the Junker collectivism of that famous leftist Otto von Bismarck. It had very much in common with the acriptive, inegalitarian communitarian ethics of 19th and early 20th century Catholicism as well.

    The radical position articulated by Margaret Thatcher, that there is no society, only individuals and the family, is quite novel, quite radical, and not in keeping with either tradition-oriented conservatism, or even real "classical liberalism." Virtually all of the real classical liberals identified a putative "state of nature" characterized by pure individualism as an abhorrent, insecure, violent situation that was remedied by individuals forming ordered collectivities -- "covenanting," forming "commonwealths," creating "social contracts" and so on.

    You can't have rule of law without a collectivity. Sorry, you just can't. No state, no contract; no contract, no classical liberalism.

    <h2>Human beings are social beings. We need one another. Pure individualism is unnatural to humanity and if truly pursued causes madness.</h2>

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