Rick Metsger hits the airwaves

State Senator Rick Metsger is the first Secretary of State candidate to release a television spot for the primary election.

Discuss.

Comments

  • James X. (unverified)
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    I'm not sure how effective this is, because it doesn't say what "limited your right to vote" means. I think most voters are perceptive enough to realize the legislature wasn't trying to make anyone 3/5 of a voter. If I wasn't already familiar with the issue, I'd just be confused.

  • ben rivers (unverified)
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    This ad is forgettable at best. You are going to need something better than this if you want to cut through all the campaign ads that will be hitting the airwaves in the next couple of weeks. This one looks like it will get lost in the shuffle.

  • Gary (unverified)
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    The bill that the commercial refers to, HB 2614, was mentioned in the paper today as one of the deciding factors of why the Bend Bulletin endorsed Metsger for Secretary of State.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Well, it's no "Daisy" ad, but please explain why this is any more forgettable than Jeff Merkley's "I fight for various things" ad?

    I was seriously annoyed at 2614. I signed Westlund's petition in 2006, so I needed to register as nonaffiliated (and stayed nonaffiliated for about a year before going back D). I was already voting for Metsger, so I can't say that this ad swayed me... but if I was on the fence this would have helped me decide.

    James, It may not be a 3/5 compromise, but the bill did tell (partisan) voters that participation in one race negated their ability to vote in all other races. Frankly, that's crappy policy. I think it's a valid question to ask why Brown and Walker would want to look after Oregon's elections if they have this latent disdain for voter participation.

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    What James said. It comes off as cryptic and only hits that single note. JHL, Merkley's ad may not have been scintillating, but it did hit more than one obscure point. Anyone seeing it would have ready access to 4 or 5 main points, which would be likely to create an impression in their minds about where he stands. This is just odd.

  • jbevela (unverified)
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    So... a candidate in a Democratic primary has made an ad targeting NAV voters? Huh.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Actually jbevela, HB 2614 screwed over registered Democratic and Republican voters more than NAVs.

    I don't see how preventing registered Democrats from voting in their own primary election is an issue that wouldn't resonate with registered Democrats.

  • researchin' (unverified)
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    Here's the Senate vote count:

    Ayes, 17 Nays, 12--Atkinson, Beyer, Ferrioli, Gordly, Kruse, Metsger, Nelson, Schrader, Starr, B., Starr, C., Westlund, Whitsett; Excused, 1--Winters

    Here's the background from the Senate's Staff Measure Summary:

    HB 2614A is intended to eliminate the ambiguity in current statutes that fail to account for situations where an elector may participate in both a minor and major political party nominating process leading up to a primary or general election. Proponents of HB 2614A assert that by limiting elector participation to one nominating process for each partisan office, the measure will assure that “one person, one vote” remains the principal that guides elections in the state.

  • Actual researchin' (JHL) (unverified)
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    That summary was written by Kate Brown's staff. Big suprise: It's positive about the bill.

    Here's the Legislative Counsel summary: Prohibits elector from participating in more than one nominating process for each partisan public office to be filled at general election.

    Sounds good, except when you hear how the idea was to be implemented: To kee a person from engaging in an additional process for one partisan office, the solution is to preclude a voter from in all other races.

    That's why I had to switch to NAV. I signed Ben Westlund's 2006 petition, so I didn't feel I needed to vote for Kulo/Sorenson/Hill... but staying Democrat meant that I would have been unable to vote for legislative offices, city council, local ballot measures, bonds, etc. It kindly asked me not to return a ballot at all.

  • Gary (unverified)
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    researchn needs to do a little more of just that.

    Your summary is great in theory, but in practice the way the bill operated is that if you are a Democrat or Republican and you want to sign a nominating petition for an independent candidate, you can't vote in any of your primary elections, including all local candidates and local school bonds and so on.

    HB 2614 took away the ability to vote for any candidate for any office and any ballot measures in the primary election, if you desire to support one independent candidate for one office.

    That law is clearly undemocratic. If you support one independent candidate, you might as well throw away your primary election ballot. That is not how you get more voices engaged in the process.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Gary and JHL: I wasn't commenting on the validity of the issue itself, just the efficacy of the ad. I think Alworth said it better: it seems cryptic. If the production values weren't as good, I might think he was a conspiracy theorist.

    Also, I think the parties have the right to decide who can vote in their private elections. If they wanted to make it so that only legislators could vote, that would be their right. They would just lose members. Political parties are not government entities, and nobody has a government-mandated right to decide who represents political parties in the general.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    I gotta say, I don't see what's so cryptic.

    Point 1: There was a bill that limited my right to vote (TRUE)

    Point 2: Rick Metsger voted against the bill (TRUE - I LIKE)

    Implied Point 3: Other candidates voted in favor of that bill (TRUE - I DO NOT LIKE)

    Yeah, I guess the ad is filled with a lot of vanilla "stand up for you" patter (blah blah), but I don't see what's so cryptic about it... Maybe your computer speakers are off?

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    Gary:

    Your summary is great in theory, but in practice the way the bill operated is that if you are a Democrat or Republican and you want to sign a nominating petition for an independent candidate, you can't vote in any of your primary elections, including all local candidates and local school bonds and so on.

    That's just flatly not true. To the bill:

    (1) An elector may not participate in more than one nominating process for each partisan public office to be filled at the general election. (2) An elector is considered to have participated in the nominating process for each partisan public office listed on the ballot at a primary election if the elector returned a ballot of a major political party at the primary election.

    Anyone who wants to register NAV, and then vote for their in a spring election for their local nonpartisan school board, city council, or bond measure campaigns can do that - and can still sign a petition for an independent candidate.

    What you can't do is be a registered Democrat or Republican, vote to nominate partisan candidates, and then sign a petition to nominate an independent candidate. That's two bites at the apple.

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    Oh, and my firm built Kate Brown's website, but I speak only for myself.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    JHL: What's cryptic is that "limited your right to vote" isn't explained. Did they make your vote worth less? Did they make you jump through hoops to get a ballot? Did they say you can't vote because you have unpaid parking tickets? It's not clear what he's talking about unless you already know the issue.

  • Gary (unverified)
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    Kari-

    Thank you for posting the language of the bill, because it actually proves my point.

    In regular language, subsection 2 says a voter is considered to have voted for every position on the ballot if they merely returned a ballot. That is regardless of whether they only voted for a school bond measure.

    So any Republican or Democrat who signed a petition for and independent candidate could not vote for even the school bond levy, because just the mere fact that they returned a ballot meant county elections treated it as if they voted on all the races, even if they did not.

    That is not two bites of the apple. That is taking away peoples' right to participate, plain and simple.

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    Well, of course! It's a SECRET BALLOT.

    Once you've returned a partisan primary ballot, you've returned a partisan primary ballot. The elections system doesn't know -- and it shouldn't know -- how you voted in specific races. (Even if your vote was voting for no one.)

    Personally, I think we should separate the nonpartisan stuff off the partisan primary ballot - precisely so that you can vote one and not the other... but that's an entirely different question.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    The elections system doesn't know -- and it shouldn't know -- how you voted in specific races.

    Well there you go: This concept really didn't have a workable implementation that protected people's ability to vote in unrelated races. Maybe Kari's idea of separating the ballot would make it more workable... but that hasn't happened.

    Yet Kate Brown passed it through the Rules Committee anyway. So I guess the message is that if Kate Brown or Vicki Walker is Secretary of State, they won't care if a piece of policy has an inadvertent effect of shutting voters out of the primary... so long as the principle behind it was sound?

    James: The message of "The Legislature limited your right to vote" isn't any more cryptic than Kate Brown saying she is a "champion on the [GLBT] issue." For heavens sake, Kate's GLTB video clip has someone saying "This is an issue that is very important to us," and doesn't even mention an issue.

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    Kari's explanation of HB 2614 is not complete or 100% accurate. Under HB 2614, if you "return a ballot" in the primary election and received your ballot as a member of a major party (D or R), then you are precluded from signing any unaffiliated candidate petition or participating in any assembly of electors, period. If you previously in the election cycle signed a petition for an unaffiliated candidate, that signature is retroactively invalidated when the petition signatures are verified (under the law, petition signature verification does not take place until several weeks after the primary election, at the earliest).

    Kari states: "Once you've returned a partisan primary ballot, you've returned a partisan primary ballot." This seems to imply that the voter who was registered D or R at the time the ballots were mailed can somehow return only the partisan part of the ballot. No. Once you have received a partisan ballot and return anything in that outer envelope, it does not matter whether you vote in the partisan races or not.

    It does not even matter whether you actually vote at all. All that matters is that (1) you are on the records as a member of a major party and thus received a ballot that includes the major party primary races, and (2) you returned the outer voting envelope to the county elections office (by mail or drop box). The envelope you return could contain a ballot on which you did vote for partisan office candidates. It could contain cookie recipes. It could contain nothing at all. All that matters is that the envelope comes back and its bar code is scanned.

    I think there was nothing "inadvertent" about HB 2614. The two Oregonians who testified against it were me and Blair Bobier of the Pacific Green Party. We pointed out what it would do. The legislators had every opportunity to be aware that HB 2614 would allow a member of a major party to sign a petition to nominate an unaffiliated candidate only if that member did not vote at all in the primary election.

    No one here has posted the final vote in the House. It was:

    Ayes, 39; Nays, 7--Bruun, Buckley, Butler, Galizio, Riley, Rosenbaum, Shields; Absent, 1--Wirth; Excused for Business of the House, 13--Avakian, Boone, Hanna, Hansen, Jenson, Krieger, March, Morgan, Richardson, Schaufler, Smith G., Whisnant, Speaker Minnis.
    Note that, of the 7 no votes, 5 were Democrats: Buckley, Galizio, Riley, Rosenbaum, and Shields.

    Kari also says, "Anyone who wants to register NAV, and then vote for their in a spring election for their local nonpartisan school board, city council, or bond measure campaigns can do that - and can still sign a petition for an independent candidate. That is correct (except that the 2005 Legislature also changed the term for candidates who qualify by petition from "independent" to "nonaffiliated"--a very clever way to make such candidates appear less desirable to voters). Yes, you can give up your major party registration entirely, vote in the primary (with a ballot that excludes all partisan offices), and sign a petition for an unaffiliated candidate. You need not re-register NAV, however. You can do this, as long as you are registered anything other than D or R.

    But you can only sign one petition per office (later signatures are invalid). And your signature is also discarded, if you participate in an assembly of electors for a candidate running for that office or in a minor party's nomination process, such as a convention, for that office.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    What you can't do is be a registered Democrat or Republican, vote to nominate partisan candidates, and then sign a petition to nominate an independent candidate. That's two bites at the apple.

    Kari, are you actually defending 2614? I didn't think anyone was openly defending that atrocity anymore. Even Vicki Walker publicly apologized for her vote over on Bojack, and said she wished she could have it back. Maybe your tepid defense here is a signal that your client Kate Brown still supports it? Interesting.

    What Gary said is absolutely true. HB 2614 prohibits Democrats from supporting an independent in any race, even one where the Democrat abstained from voting in the primary. It's a bill designed to disenfranchise party members who occasionally stray from party orthodoxy, it's flatly undemocratic, and it's likely unconstitutional. No one who voted for 2614 is qualified to be Secretary of State.

    Period.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    As for the ad itself, I agree with those who say it's pretty cryptic. I am supporting Metsger almost completely as a result of this issue, but not many voters are aware of it. Metsger has a winning issue here, but needs to work a bit on the execution.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Miles, I hadn't heard about Vicki Walker apologizing for her vote... That takes guts, and I appreciate that. Kudos to Vicki Walker!

    As for Kate Brown, she made a very strong "signal" that she still supports HB 2614 in the 2007 session, when she killed SB 468, which would have repealed HB 2614.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Miles, I hadn't heard about Vicki Walker apologizing for her vote... That takes guts, and I appreciate that. Kudos to Vicki Walker!

    As for Kate Brown, she made a very strong "signal" that she still supports HB 2614 in the 2007 session, when she killed SB 468, which would have repealed HB 2614.

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    Dan makes a great point that HB2614 wasn't the only bill intended to weaken independent candidates that passed in 2005. The legislature also passed a bill to remove the word "independent" from Oregon ballots and replace it with the word "non-affiliated".

    This was intended to make independent candidates less attractive to Oregon voters.

    Kudos to Walker for repudiating her vote, and to Metsger for voting against it and for using his raise awareness about these kinds of partisan shenanigans.

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    I have no idea whether Kate Brown still supports HB 2614. But yes, I do.

    I don't think you should get two bites at the apple.

    Dan Meek writes a very good summary of the situation - but manages to completely ignore what I wrote. Maybe he didn't see my second comment?

    Dan wrote:

    Kari states: "Once you've returned a partisan primary ballot, you've returned a partisan primary ballot." This seems to imply that the voter who was registered D or R at the time the ballots were mailed can somehow return only the partisan part of the ballot. No. Once you have received a partisan ballot and return anything in that outer envelope, it does not matter whether you vote in the partisan races or not.

    But I had previously written, on exactly that point:

    Well, of course! It's a SECRET BALLOT. Once you've returned a partisan primary ballot, you've returned a partisan primary ballot. The elections system doesn't know -- and it shouldn't know -- how you voted in specific races. (Even if your vote was voting for no one.) Personally, I think we should separate the nonpartisan stuff off the partisan primary ballot - precisely so that you can vote one and not the other... but that's an entirely different question.

    Again, I think you SHOULD be able to vote the nonpartisan part of the ballot and return it - and skip the partisan nomination part of the ballot.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    But Kari, this means that if you sign an independent nominating petition for one partisan office, you'll still be barred from voting in the primary for any other partisan office. (Like the legislature or Congress.)

    The concept sounds good on paper but just doesn't work in real life. Rick Metsger and Vicki Walker understand that, and I need a Secretary of State who's not too stubborn to try to push through ideas that have incidental adverse affects.

    Kate Brown has been going around saying "every vote counts" as if it means something, but it's apparent that shutting out independents is more important to her than maintaining voter participation. The proof is in the pudding.

    Even Kari (a 2614 proponent) seems to grant that there's a better way to implement this process... but Kate Brown refused to take a second look at the issue in 2007.

    She's done a lot of good progressive things. Voting rights is just not one of them.

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    Kari sez:

    Personally, I think we should separate the nonpartisan stuff off the partisan primary ballot - precisely so that you can vote one and not the other... but that's an entirely different question.

    No, it's not -- the mixture you describe makes it part of the one question: does this bad law restrict voting rights and disfranchise people? Answer: yes.

    Because the partisan and non-partisan stuff are not separated, your choice about how to deal with the partisan stuff can disfranchise you from the non-partisan stuff.

    And there is still a problem within the partisan part of it. Let's say I don't support any Democratic candidate for a particular office, and wish to get a different choice on the ballot by one of the non-major party methods. But let's say that in other races I do have preference as among Democratic candidates. Under this law, I am either disfranchised of my opportunity to get an acceptable ballot choice for the one office, or of my opportunity to vote for the candidate of my choice in a different race.

    No two bites of the apple involved: there are two different apples.

    This seems to me to be a much bigger problem than the "two bites" problem the law was intended to address.

    This law alienates me from the Democratic party. It pisses me off. The more I think about it, the more it inclines me to say that if the DP is going to demand that I only vote for Ds in order to vote for any Ds, I will just walk away from the party.

    The one thing holding me back from that is the feeling that there are significant forces in the DP who actually wouldn't mind that result. I have a quite clear view that there are national level party forces who take that approach when it comes to presidential politics. I don't know enough about the state party to say at that level or below.

    But this may be one where stuff looks different to the professionals and maybe some hard-core party activists than even to those of us who try to follow fairly closely but don't get so active beyond giving money sometimes and voting regularly.

    I understand the "no two bites" argument about a given office. But I have never heard an attempt to say why that issue is more important than the multiple other potential and actual disfranchisements involved.

    I also say this as someone who supports closed primaries. To my mind, the "two bites" issue is a price the major parties need to pay for having closed primaries.

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    Kari, I saw your second comment but still felt the need to clarify the situation. Your second comment is quite correct in that it recognizes that HB 2614 requires the D or R voter to avoid voting in the primary election entirely, if she has or wishes to sign a petition for an unaffiliated candidate. Separating the partisan from the nonpartisan primary ballots would probably require having each D and each R return two separate ballots in two separate envelopes. Otherwise, there would be no way to know whether a single return envelope contains the partisan ballot or not.

    And even that would disenfranchise Ds and Rs who vote in the primary for, say, Governor, but wish to sign a petition for a candidate for Senator. Voting for a candidate for Governor in the primary, even under this improved system, would preclude signing a petition for a candidate for Senator. Since we have a "secret ballot," getting around this disenfranchisement problem may not be possible.

    So why not do what 48 other states do and not try to preclude those who vote in the primary election from also signing petitions for unaffiliated candidates? To my knowledge, only Texas has a system similar to HB 2614, and even that system is better (because the partisan primaries are indeed conducted on separate ballots, so voters are not precluded from voting on measures and nonpartisan races).

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    Hmmm.... Chris Lowe writes:

    The more I think about it, the more it inclines me to say that if the DP is going to demand that I only vote for Ds in order to vote for any Ds, I will just walk away from the party.

    How do you feel, then, about the One Ballot open primary initiative?

    I find it fascinating that some of the people here who are so up in arms about this are also opposed to the most obvious solution - the open primary.

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    Kari,

    The sentence you quote reflects my emotional pissed-offness at being coerced by my own nominal party, not the full working out of my thinking which involves using reason to temper and guide such responses. It does piss me off. I have been proud to have been represented by Senator Brown and to have been able to vote for her over the years, including in her first, close election. But I will be supporting Vicki Walker for SOS now.

    Actually I already gave you my answer to your question. I don't support the top-two primary proposal. To me the obvious solution is to recognize that no system is perfect and that the occasional "two bites of the apple" problem is smaller than either the problems with the new law or those with the top two primary, and return matters to where they stood before this bad law.

    But maybe you are right. Maybe I should reconsider my opposition to the top-two system. In light of this discussion and your response, I think I could support a somewhat different proposal that would work like "top two" except include on the general ballot all candidates who gained 5% or 8% or 10% of the vote, which would mitigate the tendencies of "top two" either toward one-party domination in some circumstances or reinforcement of the two major parties' domination in most.

    You still haven't made any case about why we should see the "two bites" problem / risk is weightier than the various disfranchising problems and risks of the new law.

  • JTT (unverified)
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    Again, I think you SHOULD be able to vote the nonpartisan part of the ballot and return it - and skip the partisan nomination part of the ballot.

    I was utterly disgusted by HB 2614 and am glad that Metsger was the only one of the SOS candidates to vote against it (and kudos to Walker for a mea culpa). I actually like Kari's idea of a separate partisan ballot...but here's my question. Why is the state (out of General fund dollars) paying for the D & R primaries...and not paying for the Green party to hold its nominating convention, or the Libertatians to hold theirs, or the wacky "Constitution" party folks for their smoke filled room gathering? The partisan ballot should be separated, the parties should pay for their own primaries, and HB 2614 should be repealed...and Kari, please stop shoveling the bullsh** when you know good and well that HB 2614 is horrible policy for the people and voters of Oregon...plus, how does Brown explain her vote in the General to the 22% of Oregonians who are NAVs (she just might need their votes after all)?

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    Setting aside, for the moment, the particulars of HB 2614...

    It seems to me that either we have a party-centered system or a a voter-centered system. Either you view the elections system as a process where two (or more) coalitions battle it out for electoral wins -- or you view our elections as a process where the population of individuals communicates its will.

    Either the fundamental unit is the party - in which case exclusive nominating procedures are allowed and even encouraged (and thus open primary is bad and HB 2614 is good)... or the fundamental unit is the individual voter - in which case the voter should have the freedom to exercise his or her vote in any way they see fit.

    Now, I have to admit: I've very torn about all this. I can respect both positions. I'm a very partisan guy, to be sure. I'm also someone who believes that more democracy, more choices, more votes, and more freedom is always better.

    It just seems to me that we should be consistent. If we're going to have a closed primary system, then HB 2614 makes sense. If the party can say "We will exclude all non-party members from participating in our nomination process", then it also makes sense that the party can say "We will require our party members to only participate in our nomination process."

    But if we have an open primary, where we say, "The voters can choose any candidate of any party in both the preliminary voting round and the final voting round" then it makes perfect sense to say "...and any voter can sign a petition to enter a candidate into that preliminary voting round."

    The system should have internally consistent logic. One way or the other.

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    Oh, and btw, I think I'm correct that Senator Metsger supports the open primary and opposes HB 2614. That makes sense. And Senator Kate Brown opposed the open primary and supports HB 2614. That also makes sense.

    But opposing both or supporting both doesn't make any sense.

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    Kari's proposed "consistency" test does not make sense. I opposed HB 2614 from the beginning and also oppose the so-called "open primary" (which is correctly termed a "blanket primary" or "jungle primary" in court decisions and political science books). I would call the Keisling proposed measure the "Ringer Primary," because it probably will result in numerous "ringers" running for every important office. The best way to make sure that a D gets to the general election will be for the Ds to see to it that there are a lots of Rs running for every office in the primary, so that the R vote is split into fragments, thus allowing one or even two Ds to proceed to the general election for each office. The Rs will run their ringers as Ds, as Libertarians, as Greens, etc. (joining the D ringers running as Libertarians, Greens, etc.), so that the vote will be split among perhaps a dozen or more candidates per office This has been the experience in Louisiana, the only state to have a similar system.

    Much more on this subject is at Oregon Independent, including this:

    [David] Duke ran a strong second in the 1990 U.S. Senate election and gained a spot in the runoff election in the governor's race in 1991. In that 1991 runoff, he faced Edwin Edwards, a former governor with a history of suspected corruption. A popular bumper sticker in favor of Edwards was: "Vote the Crook: It's Important." In the 1995 governor's race, 16 candidates ran in the opening round, including four major candidates who ultimately won at least 18% of the vote. The two most ideologically extreme major candidates were Mike Foster, a conservative Republican who earned Pat Buchanan's endorsement and inherited much of David Duke's constituency, and Cleo Fields. a leading liberal Democrat in the Congressional Black Caucus. They advanced to the runoff election with a combined vote of only 45% of votes casts, with the more centrist vote split among other candidates. Foster ultimately was elected in the runoff election.
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    Dan.... That's some interesting discussion. I do find it amusing how every open-primary opponent always brings up David Duke - as if an open primary guarantees a KKK candidate.

    In any case, you open by stating the declarative: "Kari's proposed "consistency" test does not make sense."

    But then you fail to make an argument why I'm wrong, while merely pointing out that you're another example of someone who takes a contradictory viewpoint.

    Why shouldn't we be consistent about whether we have an exclusive party nominating process - or an open party nominating process?

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Kari, I agree with your logic. I used to be opposed to open primaries, but I was convinced otherwise by two things: 1) all voters pay for the two-party nominating system, which means that 30% of those paying don't get to participate, and 2) HB 2614, which showed me that the two major parties are willing to do anything to maintain power, even disenfranchising their own members. They deserve open primaries as a result, since open primaries will weaken party power.

    But I still can't figure out why you support HB 2614. This isn't really about having two bites at the apple. What Kate Brown and the Democratic party decided is that if I am eating an apple (say I'm a registered Democrat who wants to support my local Democratic legislator), I'm not even allowed to look at an orange (say I want to sign Ben Westlund's petition for governor). The "solution" to this questionable problem is far worse than the problem itself.

    The other thing to consider: Why is it important to keep people from supporting more than one candidate in the nominating process? We're not electing someone through that process, so the "one person, one vote" mantra doesn't really apply. What's wrong with me saying I want to see Novick get the Democratic nomination, and I also want to see Frohnmayer qualify for the general election? What democratic principle is being violated?

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    Kari,

    Your arguments are wrong in both premises and logic, & hence conclusions.

    The two principles you lay out are not diametrically opposed, though they are more likely to seem so, perhaps, from the point of view of party staff, office-holders, political professionals closely associated with the parties, and core party activists in the two major parties, than from the point of view of party-identified voters and intermittent low-level activists.

    What your severe dichotomization elides is the question of how the party as an association chooses to associate internally -- internal party democracy, to some extent, and from another angle, party openness and the permeability of party boundaries. Part of the reason you wish to exclude HB 2614 from consideration is that when we look at it, making that elision becomes harder.

    You write:

    If the party can say "We will exclude all non-party members from participating in our nomination process", then it also makes sense that the party can say "We will require our party members to only participate in our nomination process."

    This is a non sequitur on two levels. It it true at the most trivial level of "can". But your claims about conisistency really amount to "should": that to be consistent about having the party as "the fundamental unit" the party ought to require this sort of exclusivity of its members. HB 2614 goes further. Putting the power of the state behind the preferences of certain party officials and political professionals (including elected officials and their staffs), it converts their (your) erroneous view of what the party "should" into what it "must" do.

    Saying "the fundamental unit is the party" only gets us so far, unless we look at what a party is or might be. It is freqently pointed out, with some truth, by critics of "third party" politics in the U.S. that its proponents think as if U.S. parties were like European parliamentary parties, or wish that they were. But in fact the structure of the U.S. electoral system means that our parties are different. One difference is exactly that in fact the system allows neither parties nor individuals to be "the fundamental unit."

    Personally I refuse to accept your dichotomy, Kari. I believe that for democracy to function in any remotely egalitarian way, it requires concerted, associated action, whether this be in the form of parties, trade unions, civic associations, religious congregations, advocacy groups, charities, and on and on -- civil society in all its splendor, oddity and ugliness (the KKK is part of civil society too). So parties, as a key form of association related to elections, are a fundamental unit, and arguably more crucial for egalitarians or relative egalitarians and the interests of individuals who do not control the corporate elements of civil society in developed capitalism.

    But saying that we need parties in a fundamental way entails exactly nothing about what their internal relationships and forms of association are like. Your formulation above is rather breathtaking from a democratic perspective: How come it is not a matter of the the members telling the party how they should be allowed to relate to the party? It speaks volumes as to the limited substantive content to party "membership." While not quite as bad as the myriad political and non-profit organizations who call donors "members" but give them no real voice at all, who sell political services and encourage people to think that buying them is political participation, in the context of our consumer culture, it is pretty damn close at times.

    If the DP were to hash this out internally and use its somewhat open, quasi-representative structures to decide internally to impose the requirement of HB 2614 on its members, then we would be dealing with what the party "can" do and having some kind of internal debate within our association about what we should do. But because some officials have put the power of the state behind it, the party has never had that debate or held itself accountable to its members or even its activists to do so. And HB 2614 says that parties may not decide otherwise.

    The technical issues are not the same, but the spirit of HB 2614 is the spirit of the party lever and hack poll-watchers who check to see how long it takes individuals to vote and mark down those whose delays indicate ticket-splitting. It is grotesque.

    As Dan Meek says, there is nothing inherent in political parties that requires this law -- it is an extreme outlier, "solving" a non-problem by creating six worse ones. It should be repealed.

  • Gavin Young (unverified)
    (Show?)

    My understanding in talking with the local Democratic Party office and with the state elections office, is that if a person registered as a Non-Affliated Voter (or a member of a third party) they would recieve a non-partisan ballot, thus they could still vote on city races, judges, and bond measures. That said, I became very upset when I heard that HB2614 was passed.

    <h2>The 2005 Legislature also changed the term for candidates who qualify by petition from "independent" to "nonaffiliated" because their is now a third party in Oregon which is officially called the "Independent Party" (and it is an option on the current Oregon voter registration forms), see http://www.indparty.com/ . A lot of people are joining it, likely not realizing that is an actual party (they likely don't realize that independent (with a small "i) voters in Oregon are now known as non-affiliated voters). Notice that at http://www.indparty.com/, the "Independent Party" is now the third largest party in Oregon (and thus the largest third party in Oregon).</h2>
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