Macpherson/Kroger debate at the City Club (video)

A little more than a week ago, the Portland City Club hosted a debate between the two candidates for Attorney General - Rep. Greg Macpherson and law professor John Kroger.

We've finally figured out how to get the video from the on-air broadcast of CityNet 30 all the way to BlueOregon. So, quite belatedly, here it is.

Discuss.

Comments

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Thank you. It was a lively debate; more confrontational when compared to the Rebooting Democracy meeting (and I know there is a video of that somewhere on the internet).

  • LT (unverified)
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    Thanks for doing this.

    I was much more impressed by the AG debate than the US Senate debate. I heard a much more substantial debate with the AG candidates--without any arguing about the rights and responsibilities of a candidate given the chance for rebuttal.

    Kroger did a good job in this debate---changed me from leaning Macpherson to undecided (again).

    And I think all of Steve Novick's followers should listen and learn from this debate. Kroger had a "great save", "Oh, did I say utilities, what I meant to say was..." in good humor. Although he is the one with the abrasive reputation, Kroger did better presenting a positive approach to the campaign, and Macpherson sounded more negative/confrontational.

    It was a very satisfying debate, at least for this listener.

  • Randle McMurphy (unverified)
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    Both candidates for Attorney General are great. I could not be more pleased with our options.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    Macpherson was clearly dominant in the debate. He made a clear case as to how he's prepared to serve as Oregon's attorney general.

    Kroger admitted that he's never practiced law in Oregon, that he's never actually accomplished anything for Oregonians, has no track record here at all.

    I was especially put off by Kroger's odd antics at the end. When given an opportunity to ask Macpherson a question that gets at the heart of the differences between the two of them, he asked instead 1) who Greg's political heroes are, and 2) what his priorities would be if he were running for Metro Council - the zoo or transit policy. WTF?!

    The zoo?!

  • Justin (unverified)
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    re: Jack's comments. I was at the debate and have a few qualms with your assessment. First, Macpherson was unnecessarily aggressive and this undermined points that he made. As for the last questions Kroger posed, I and other members of the audience thought that Kroger sought to take the edge off the harsh tones adopted by Macpherson. Also, the nativist rhetoric has just about run its course. Kroger actually has a detailed plan for protecting Oregon's environment and for ending the Meth epidemic. Both of these are in stark contrast to Macpherson, who only talks about the past and ignores detailed plans for the future. I prefer Kroger, because of his detailed plans for the office and Oregon will be a better place if Kroger is elected. When asked what politicians he admired, Macpherson said Hardy Myers. He made it clear that his term as AG would be more of a status quo, then an upgrade like Kroger proposes.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    The debate presented a contrast, but not in the way Jack implies. Macpherson focused on attacking Kroger, while Kroger focused on his qualifications. The part about clients is particularly telling. Kroger’s answer about Oregon clients was straightforward: as a practicing attorney, Kroger spent his career working for the US Attorney’s Office, so there was no “client” in the traditional sense – the United States of America was his “client” (which last time I checked, included Oregon). The debate presented a clear contrast, one candidate went negative, and one candidate presented a plan for Oregon’s future.

  • Nick C. (unverified)
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    I agree with Justin. Kroger's resume speaks for itself. He's an extremely competent attorney and a high quality law professor.

    So what that he's not from Oregon? Not everyone is lucky enough to be born here. Isn't it more important that he knows a lot about the political and legal scene in Oregon and has a detailed progressive plan to improve it?

    And "Macpherson was clearly dominant"? More like extremely snarky.

    Plus, the "the answer I heard" rebuttals followed by a Macpherson talking point were cheap and ineffective.

  • LT (unverified)
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    "The debate presented a contrast, but not in the way Jack implies. Macpherson focused on attacking Kroger, while Kroger focused on his qualifications. "

    Which had a lot to do with my change from leaning Macpherson to undecided.

    Other primary campaigns--please take note.

  • Thoughts (unverified)
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    Two points:

    1. I just watched the debate and I didn't think Macpherson was negative at all -- he was just making a (relatively understated) attempt to draw completely legitimate contrasts between himself and his opponent. None of his arguments were ad hominem -- they all suggested completely valid reasons to prefer one candidate over the other.

    2. The one thing that has annoyed me more than anything else is the efforts of Kroger's supporters to dismiss as mere "nativism" the fact that Kroger has no record of political accomplishment in this state. Look, NO ONE CARES WHERE KROGER WAS BORN! Ron Wyden, Hardy Myers, Ted Kulongoski -- they were all born out-of-state. But they all had an extensive record of accomplishment in state politics before running for statewide office.

    No matter whether you think it is a particularly persuasive reason to oppose Kroger, I think all would agree that his lack of experience in Oregon politics is a valid mark against him. How can we expect him to push a policy agenda through the legislature when he has no record of success working with members of the legislature? How can we be certain he will do a good job representing the interests of his constituents when he has no record of ever representing constituents in elective office?

    To be clear: you may not be persuaded that these are important considerations. Fine. But raising them does not amount to some kind of "nativist" bias. They are completely valid reasons to doubt Kroger's candidacy.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    OK, I'll play along.

    Name one thing that John Kroger has accomplished for the people of Oregon.

    Obviously, he's never been an elected official, but that's not the only way to serve the public. For example: Steve Novick, whom I do not support, did some great work on holding the lottery commission accountable for the high fees paid to video poker retailers.

    Many of us have volunteered in our communities, doing good things both large and small.

    Outside of his day job and gearing up to run for office, what's John Kroger done? Anything will do.

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    I agree with Justin and A. Rab. that Jack got this debate entirely wrong. The Q&A sessions were quite informative: Rep. MacPhearson make a thinly disguised attack, Mr. Kroger gave a clear straightforward answer, and then MacPhearson then tried to spin the answer furiously.

    You can see the difference in trial experience right there. Apparently Rep. MacPhearson doesn't understand that mischaracterizing someone else's response doesn't work when people just heard them give it themselves. True, too many people have too short an attention span, but not that short.

    The positive/negative aspect was also extremely intriguing. John was acting like the flat-out front runner. He was polite, declined opportunities to draw contrasts, and (except at the very end) didn't even make particularly pointed responses to MacPhearson's exaggerations. MacPhearson did exactly the opposite. At every attempt to twist John's words MacPhearson strained at, a little voice in my head kept saying "You go girl! You go Hillary!". It sounded that desperate.

    One wonders based on that if polling has been done and both men know that John is ahead. I can't analyze the strategies of this debate any other way.

    One final note. Time after time through this race, I've caught Rep. MacPhearson cribbing John's rhetoric. This time he's taking his phrase "Not tough on crime; smart on crime."

    But really I can't blame him. MacPhearson's improvement in just plain ability to speak over the course of his campaign has been obvious.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    Jack- John has done much for Oregonians. John served this country in the Marines, serving our country and protecting all Oregonians. John worked for Clinton's 92 Campaign helping end 12 years of Republican rule. That seems like a great service to all Oregonians. John served Oregonian's interests by prosecuting Drug Kingpins and Mafia bosses. John prosecuted an Oregon corporation, Enron, that reaked havoc on Pension plans and investors in Oregon across the state. John has inspired many young lawyers to become involved in Oregon and National Politics. John served on the DPO finance committee. John spent his life in public service, which helped Oregonians and all citizens of the United States. That seems like a pretty good list for any Oregon citizen. I was impressed that John stayed positive and pushed his positive agenda for Oregon's future in the debate. Greg went negative from the very beginning, a clear sign his campaign feels threatened by John's insurgent campaign. People want change from the establishment and John brings that. This is a change election. I think it is great the Greg was born in Oregon and spent the last few years in the Oregon house. What I want from Greg, though, is a clear pro-active vision for the AGs office and why that office is essential for Greg to achieve his vision. I understand Greg's resume to be a legislature but still fail to see why he would make a great AG, or even why he is running for AG.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Steve, I agree with you on the debate. Greg sounds almost like that old saying "when they act like that, you know they know they are losing.

    But out of respect to his family ( I remember his Dad in the legislature) a reminder: the true spelling has only one capital letter--Macpherson.

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    Jack Sullivan: Name one thing that John Kroger has accomplished for the people of Oregon.

    Jack, you need to listen to the debate. Greg asked this very question. John Kroger answered as follows -

    He: 1] Prosecuted Enron, an Oregon corporation. 2] Helped elect Bill Clinton and Al Gore. 3] Has helped bring up the next generation of crusading lawyers. 4] Was the finance chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon.

    He then noted that he was endorsed by the Sierra Club because they know he has a track record of taking on powerful interests.

    Rep. Macphearson characterized this as: "Well, the answer I heard was 'no'. There's no specific example. No track record of actually doing something for Oregon's environment".

    So the questions people have to ask themselves is the following:

    Did prosecuting Enron help the people of Oregon by putting in a deterrence to white collar crime?

    Did helping Al Gore achieve national prominence as Vice President of the United States help or hurt the long term prospects of Oregon's environment?

    Is teaching public service to young lawyers something that helps Oregon society?

    Is helping the Democratic Party raise money to help put the Democrats in charge of the legislature something that helps the people of Oregon? (Compare the term of Speaker Minnis to the term of Speaker Merkley, for example.)

    p.s. Sorry about the miscapitalization, LT.

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    Idle question --

    Was it Greg Macpherson's grandfather who authored the bill to abolish the U of O as an independent institution and bring it under the control of Corvallis? Or was that another Macpherson? (I read about it in the Mason Drukman biography of Wayne Morse.)

  • Randle McMurphy (unverified)
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    Stephanie,

    How is that book? Do you recommend it?

  • Amanda (unverified)
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    Greg was clearly at the top of his game. I've never seen Kroger so weak.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Amanda, that is the most backhanded compliment I have seen on Blue O in a long time. Macpherson was about attacking Kroger; Kroger was about laying out an agenda for the Attorney General's Office.

  • LT (unverified)
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    From what I hear, it is a great biography.

    I would suggest that in this election year everyone who doesn't know someone with Morse and McCall stories to tell read that or another book about Morse (such as Tiger of the Senate, or a general mid-century history with a large segment on Morse) and Brent Walth's FIRE AT EDEN'S GATE which is a "life and times" biography of the years McCall was a household name.

    Those were giants. Greg's Dad was one of the McCall era giants. I've known Greg for awhile, but that "answer I heard was no" crack is beneath his normal quality level. He needs to watch out, lest his old friends don't like this version of Greg and take a closer look at Kroger.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    I asked... Name one thing that John Kroger has accomplished for the people of Oregon. ... Outside of his day job and gearing up to run for office, what's John Kroger done?

    Steve Maurer responded:

    He: 1] Prosecuted Enron, an Oregon corporation. 2] Helped elect Bill Clinton and Al Gore. 3] Has helped bring up the next generation of crusading lawyers. 4] Was the finance chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon.

    1. That was in Texas. Enron is/was a Texas corporation.

    2. Sure, fine. That's not something he did in Oregon. Perhaps "for" Oregon, but if working in Arkansas on a presidential campaign qualifies, then I guess everything does.

    3. That's his day job.

    4. That's gearing up his campaign.

    I'm still waiting to hear about one thing, anything, that John Kroger has done IN OREGON in terms of public service, community involvement, volunteering, etc. (Has he ever volunteered at the Food Bank? Organized a neighborhood watch? Picked up litter during the SOLV Beach Cleanup?)

    This can't be that hard.

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    Randle (great pseud BTW), it's a terrific book. Very insightful - he seems to have interviewed just about everyone who knew Morse, and had access to enormous archives of correspondence. And quite well written. I recommend it very highly.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Jack, you are wrong, Enron was an Oregon Corporation. You also have a very narrow idea of public service. Anything that pays you dismiss as a day job and service for liberal causes are dismissed as "gearing up" to run for office. Under this narrow criteria nether Macpherson nor Kroger have done much of anything. You seem to keep echoing Macpheron's "Oregon client" attack, but that attack was indicative of what was wrong with Macpherson at the debate. Macpherson is not dumb, so we have to assume that he knew that an AUSA does not have a "client" in the way a lawyer in private practice does - they represent the government - and this is true regardless of where the US Attorney's Office is located. Macpherson's attack was devoid of content; it was an attack designed only to create innuendo. There was no highlighting of policy differences, no contrast of governing philosophies, nothing that is actually relevant to governance. Kroger's campaign has been about what he will do when elected, Macpherson has decided to focus on why he does not like Kroger.

  • Young and maybe stupid (unverified)
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    Jack, Enron was incorporated in Oregon so that it could use the very generous tax laws for corporations in this state. While the "headquaters" may have been in Texas, every legal document about Enron had to refer to it as an Oregon Corporation. Also, Enron was not exactly small footprint in this state, ask anyone who worked in the energy sector during Enrons rule.

    Having now watched the debate I have to say it looked to me that Kroger wanted to talk about his goals for the office, while Macpherson wanted to talk about Kroger, and "would vote for" Kroger for "chief prosecutor."

    To me the most important exchange was when Machperson asked Kroger how many Oregon clients he has had. Krogers response of only having one real client in his life was maybe overstated, but apt. It revealed this race to be between a corporate lawyer and a lawyer in public service. That is enough to make me look twice at Kroger.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    A.Rab -- You are fabulously wrong about Enron. Enron is and was based in Houston, Texas.

    Enron Creditors Recovery Corporation (formerly Enron Corporation) (former NYSE ticker symbol: ENE) was an American energy company based in Houston, Texas. ... Enron Creditors Recovery Corp. will continue to operate under the name Enron Corp. by filing a Doing Business As, or "dba" certificate in Harris County, Texas.

    You may be thinking of Portland General Electric, which was at one time a subsidiary of Enron.

    In any case, Kroger's work was in Texas.

    Task force members spent much of their time flying to dozens of cities to interview former Enron employees and poring over e-mails and other documents in a nondescript Houston office building. Kroger was appalled by the extent of Enron's chicanery.

    As for Macpherson's community service

    Greg has coached youth soccer and basketball and volunteers at a legal aid clinic, providing free legal assistance to the poor. He’s also served as Chair of the Multnomah County Planning Commission and as Trustee for Trillium Family Services, a non-profit organization operating facilities across Oregon for mentally ill youth. As board member and President of the 40-Mile Loop Land Trust, he helped create the Springwater trail from central Portland to Estacada.

    And that's on top of serving in the Legislature.

    I don't care where Kroger is from or how long he's lived here. I would, however, like some evidence that he's actually contributed to the community in time since he arrived.

    There must be something. Please tell me I'm wrong.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Jack, again, you are wrong about Enron. Enron was incorporated in Oregon, making it an Oregon corporation; if it had been incorporated in Texas, there would have been a lot of issues with it owning PGE. Enron manipulated energy markets from offices in Portland, and ruined the lives of Oregon workers.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    OK, I'll let you argue that with Wikipedia. But it's hardly the point.

    Has John Kroger even done enough community service in Oregon to earn him extra-credit in a junior high school honor society?

  • Amanda (unverified)
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    I love Wiki, but even its biggest supporters will recognize that it often fails in accuracy by its nature. I prefer to go to the source, the Oregon Secretary of State's Corporate Registry.

    To the other Amanda - I, too, was at the debate. Like others here, I thought Greg way overly aggressive. Par for the course in his tone-deaf campaign, some of his supporters seem to view that behavior as a strength. John may not be Oregon born-and-bred, but he certainly acted like he was during that debate. Greg, not so much.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    Jack - So you get answers you don't like, and you dismiss them as an argument that should be left to Wikipedia. Now you are trying to shift the argument to whether John has conducted community service in Oregon after you have dismissed John's military service, public service, volunteer service for the democratic party (both the Oregon and National parties) and prosecuting an Oregon corporation formally represented by Macpherson's firm. Something tells me that no answer will satisfy you.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    No, I haven't shifted the argument. I'll repost my original question:

    Name one thing that John Kroger has accomplished for the people of Oregon. Obviously, he's never been an elected official, but that's not the only way to serve the public. For example: Steve Novick, whom I do not support, did some great work on holding the lottery commission accountable for the high fees paid to video poker retailers. Many of us have volunteered in our communities, doing good things both large and small. Outside of his day job and gearing up to run for office, what's John Kroger done? Anything will do.

    I think you learn a lot about a person by finding out how he chooses to spend his free time.

    According to John's bio, it seems that he enjoys the outdoors and physical exercise.

    John is an avid runner, biker, and hiker. John’s favorite trail runs in the state are to the top of Pilot Butte in Bend and along Leif Erikson Road in Portland’s Forest Park.

    Biking and running and hiking are good things. I like getting outside too. But there's not a single reference to any community activities he's done, outside of politics.

    You guys sure are touchy about this.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    The Attorney General's Office is to important to be treated like a gold star for waiting in line. The campaign is about Oregon's future, and in this regard, there is a clear contrast between the candidates. Kroger has presented an ambitious set of proposals to fight meth, protect the environment, and improve consumer protections. Macpherson's agenda is a combination of unworkable ideas (somehow forcing the Federal Government to adopt Oregon's approach to cold medication regulation), talking about past issues, or attacking Kroger.

    Nobody is touchy Jack, but you have a very idiosyncratic idea about public service. You argue that work on behalf of the party (which Kroger has done) is "gearing up" while work in the legislature (which Macpherson has done) is altruistic volunteerism (this sets aside your misunderstanding of what it means to be an Oregon corporation). If your criteria is legislative service and resting on our past accomplishments as a state, than Macpherson is clearly your candidate - but if you criteria is ideas for where we go next, Kroger is the candidate.

  • MNS (unverified)
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    Nobody is touchy?!?!? That is the biggest load of c**p I have heard in a long time!

    A. Rab - any time anyone says anything that questions Kroger's commitment or experience in Oregon you go nuts on the blogs. This is campaign life. He needs to answer important questions regarding his qualifications for the job of Oregon Attorney General. If his campaign is uncomfortable answering these questions then he should really question his motivations for running.

    I'm just really tired of hearing all the Kroger people whine like little babies every time his record is called into question.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    A. Rab's defenses of John are well reasoned and based on fact. Just because he responds to off base attacks and misinformation quickly, does not make the response touchy.

    Jack- I can't give you an answer on Kroger's volunteer activities outside of what multiple bloggers have already posted on. You don't seem to think highly of volunteer work to build up the Democratic party and dismiss John's work as self-serving. I am glad John likes to run and ride his bike and also glad that Greg enjoys riding his bike and has participated in Bike Oregon. I hope all Oregonians have opportunities to enjoy our beautiful parks and outdoors. I also commend both Greg and John's work in different capacities in the Democratic party over the last few years. I suggest emailing John's campaign if you would like other information on John's volunteer activities outside of building a strong Oregon Democratic party.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    (crickets, crickets...)

  • Fred Heutte (unverified)
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    The answers about Enron's corporate registry have all been incomplete so far. The reason Enron changed corporate registration from Delaware to Oregon had to do with the requirements of the now-abolished Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA). A staff report by the Senate Government Affairs Committee during the period of Democratic control in 2002 when Sen. Lieberman was chair lays out in great detail how Enron used this and other tactics to avoid regulatory scrutiny. I've never been a fan of Joe Lieberman but I was completely grateful for the diligent and fair way he guided the committee's inquiry into the Enron debacle.

    The second issue that has received a fair amount of public attention is Enron’s claim under PUHCA Rule 2 of an exemption from PUHCA as an intrastate holding company when it acquired Portland General Electric (PGE) in 1997. Rule 2 implements Section 3(a)(1) of PUHCA, which provides that the SEC is to exempt a holding company if it and each of its subsidiary public utility companies “are predominantly intrastate in character and carry on their business substantially in a single State in which such holding company and every such subsidiary company thereof are organized.” The SEC has interpreted this provision to mean that when a holding company and each of its public utilities (as that term is defined in the statute) are located in one state, the holding company is exempt from PUHCA. A company that meets this requirement is not required to formally apply for an exemption or request a no-action letter. Rather, it need only file a form claiming the exemption; the exemption is effective unless the Commission notifies the company that it has questions. When Enron acquired PGE, it re-incorporated in Oregon (it had previously been a Delaware corporation). As PGE, too, was incorporated in Oregon and was the only Enron subsidiary that was considered a “public utility,” Enron was clearly eligible for this exemption under governing SEC interpretation. Although some have raised questions about the SEC’s interpretation of the intrastate provisions of Section 3(a)(1) – and other interpretations are clearly possible and perhaps more intuitive – the Commission’s approach, first set forth in 1937, is well-established and the Commission’s response to Enron’s application was consistent with this precedent.

  • Fred Heutte (unverified)
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    Sorry about the formatting there, I forgot to trim the line endings from the PDF cut-and-paste.

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