In Eugene, Jim Torrey is running away from Bush

Jesse Cornett

In 2006 in running as a Republican for the State Senate, former Eugene Mayor Jim Torrey tried and failed to convince voters that he wasn't a conservative, even misleading voters about an endorsement from Bill Clinton (who as a result openly endorsed his opponent).

It's another year, another election and another Party affiliation (yes kiddies, in Oregon if you are and Independent, you are a member of a Party), but Torrey is still trying to hide his true political leanings and fondness for George W. Bush. Thank goodness public records won't let that happen. From today's Eugene Register Guard:

In 2006, Torrey ran unsuccessfully for state Senate against incumbent Democrat Vicki Walker, who used Torrey’s support of Bush against the former mayor.

“He was exposed as a right-wing conservative in his state Senate race with Vicki Walker and he lost,” Piercy said.

According to Federal Elections Commission records, Torrey gave $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in September 2003. Piercy criticized that donation as coming in the midst of a “failed presidency.”

Torrey said he made the donation so he could attend a lunch in Portland where Bush spoke. Torrey said he wanted to attend so he could lobby then-Secretary of Interior Gale Norton to support the West Eugene Parkway.

I'm not sure, but guess that Secretary Norton wasn't even at that lunch (I don't remember her being here with him nor can I find anything to prove she was or was not so am prepared to be proven wrong on this point). Further, I wonder if the public appearances later that year on behalf of the Bush re-election were part of this lobby effort. Even if she were at the lunch, that has to be the worst reason I've heard given for a monstrous political contribution: I didn't like the candidate, I was just trying to buy access.

If it were the year 2000 and Torrey was just trying to be a loyal Republican supporting his Presidential candidate, I would understand it. But we are talking about 2004 folks, a war had been waged and a nation mislead. The sitting Mayor of one of the Nation's most progressive cities should have known better.

As an aside, I suppose I worry that someone standing for public office so openly touts that his checkbook was just buying him influence, regardless of the issue. So, following this logic, his office and staff will only be available to financial supporters?

But I guess we just have Torrey on a pretty big bandwagon of elected officials who spent 7 years supporting the current administration who for political gain wish they could erase that history. I wish I could wish you luck with that Jim, but I will wish you well and hope you enjoy continuing your retirement.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    This is a blatantly disingenuous political attack, Jesse. You pulled the same kind of crap in 2006 on the campaign finance reform campaign when you tried to imply that Harry Lonsdale was a Loren Parks-type shady out-of-state character.

    You were wrong then, and you are wrong now.

    If you want to advocate for Kitty Piercy, that's great. Go for it. She's a great person and a great candidate. But you should make your case on her merits. Tell us what she is going to do to address public safety in downtown Eugene. Explain to us what she is doing to address the closure of the Hynix plant.

    There are real issues to be addressed in this campaign, Jesse, and having a Portland consultant step into Eugene politics with this kind of smear cheapens that process.

    And by the way, since losing the 2006 campaign, Jim played a big role in calling the right wing attack dogs off of Chris Edwards during his first legislative session, and has endorsed Barack Obama for President. He has a 40 year career of working in a non-partisan and bi-partisan fashion as a public servant.

  • (Show?)

    Great post on an important race, Jesse. I don't recall seeing Secretary Norton either, but then again I was pretty intent on trying to get some killer video of President Bush stuffing his face with Iranian caviar.

  • (Show?)

    All over the country we are seeing the same thing, Republicans are are running away from George Bush and their party. John Sunnunu in NH, Norm Coleman in MN and our own Sen. Smith right here in Oregon are bending over backwards to try and convince people that if they get re-elected it will all be different and there will be some kind of bipartisan kumbaya because they are "moderate" and "mavericks". Heck, Dino Rossi in Washington state won't even run as a Republican but rather is trying his luck under the GOP moniker.

    For the record, I am proud that we have freedom of speech in this country and enjoy listening to people who have different opinions. We can't have a healthy democracy without different points of views. My issue with these candidates is that they are not being honest. If you supported George Bush, just say so but don't try to tell me black is white.

    Honestly, whoever is advising Jim Torrey should have their hand slapped, this is the single worst excuse ever for campaign contribution ever. How is trying to exchange money for influence better than supporting a candidate even if he is unpopular?

    This whole story was inititated by the Torrey campaign because they are behind and desparate not to be tied with George W Bush and the Republican party. It is quite sad really and one more reason why I will support Kitty Piercy for mayor.

  • Emily George (unverified)
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    Torrey's record shows why he supported George Bush.

    On the environment, his record consistently sided with developers and against neighborhoods during his 8 years as Mayor. That's why development interests (and timber companies) have been by far the largest contributors to his campaign.

    But he sure comes across as a nice guy.

    I hope Eugene voters don't fall for his act.

  • (Show?)

    Sal,

    Just for clarification jim Torrey wrote an editorial in the U of O student newspaper endorsing Obama in the primary against Hillary Clinton. He has not come forward in the general election to endorse a presidential candidate saying that would be divisive.

    Many people have said that the Obama endorsement in the UofO newspaper was a political move to get campus votes others say it was payback for the Clintons stepping in to endorse Sen walker over him in the primary. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt but to be clear Jim Torrey ahs stayed out of the Presidential race in the general election.

    In terms of Chris Edwards, Jim Torrey did refuse to help find a candidate to run against him and told the local R's to leave him alone. However, there is not a credible candidate in HD 14 that could run against Rep. Chris Edwards and have a hope of winning. It's kind of like advising the JV team not to play in the big leagues.

    This story is about a larger issue than the mayors race in Eugene. It is about conservative politicians running away from the Republican party in a year that Democrats are overwhelmingly popular.

  • (Show?)

    Sal,

    Just for clarification jim Torrey wrote an editorial in the U of O student newspaper endorsing Obama in the primary against Hillary Clinton. He has not come forward in the general election to endorse a presidential candidate saying that would be divisive.

    Many people have said that the Obama endorsement in the UofO newspaper was a political move to get campus votes others say it was payback for the Clintons stepping in to endorse Sen walker over him in the primary. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt but to be clear Jim Torrey ahs stayed out of the Presidential race in the general election.

    In terms of Chris Edwards, Jim Torrey did refuse to help find a candidate to run against him and told the local R's to leave him alone. However, there is not a credible candidate in HD 14 that could run against Rep. Chris Edwards and have a hope of winning. It's kind of like advising the JV team not to play in the big leagues.

    This story is about a larger issue than the mayors race in Eugene. It is about conservative politicians running away from the Republican party in a year that Democrats are overwhelmingly popular.

  • (Show?)

    Val, thanks for the insights. I also know that the hit piece mailers that were being circulated by FreedomWorks and some of the others toward potential house targets stopped after Jim voiced his public support for Edwards.

    I am equally impressed with Rep Edwards, whom I believe is one of the real rising stars in Oregon politics, but I do not believe that Jim would have spoken on his behalf if he were a tenth as partisan as Jesse and some of the others want to claim. As the Register-Guard notes, he re-registered with the Independent Party when he changed residence, long before he ran for Mayor.

    As to your final paragraph...

    Let me suggest that another way of looking at the story is that the current mayor's supporters are obviously believe that they need to make it a referendum on Bush in order to win.

    I think that it would be a mistake for voters to be misled into accepting such a strategy. This is a local race, and local issues should decide the race.

    If you want to cast it as environmentalism versus economic development, I think that's a debate that voters should welcome.

    I understand the environmental arguments, but right now I think Eugene, and Oregon in general, need more people in public office who understand how to recruit businesses and the need for investment in infrastructure and economic development.

    Jim Torrey is one of the best in the entire state on those issues.

  • (Show?)

    Jesse states, "(yes kiddies, in Oregon if you are and Independent, you are a member of a Party)." This falsely implies that joining the Independent Party is different from joining any other party.

    In order to be a member of the Independent Party of Oregon, an Oregon resident must have filled out a voter registration card, after January 2007, and must have checked the box for "<u>Independent Party</u>." You must also not check the box for "Not a member of a party."

    This process is the same as for becoming a member of any other recognized political party in Oregon. If you do not check that party's box, you are not a member of that party. If you checked the "not a member of a party" box, or no box at all, you are "non-affiliated," not "independent."

    The existence of the "Independent Party" in Oregon is hardly unique. There is an "Independent Party" in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Connecticut and (until recently, I think) Utah. There is an "American Independent Party" on the ballot in California, Colorado and Florida.

    The term "Independent" in Oregon had been a label applied to certain candidates, before the 2005 Legislature abolished that term. Before 2006, any <u>candidate</u> who qualified for the ballot by collecting sufficient signatures of registered voters was identified on the ballot as "Independent". But the Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature apparently thought that word sounded too good. After all, someone who is "independent" is strong, resourceful, and smart. So they changed the word to "non-affiliated," which instead brings to mind someone who is a loner, misfit loser. This change also released the word "Independent" for use in the name of political parties.

    Check out the Independent Party website.

  • (Show?)

    Let me also clarify that the Independent Party of Oregon has neither nominated nor endorsed Jim Torrey for any office. He joined the Independent Party by filling out a voter registration form, as is the unfettered right of any U.S. citizen who is an Oregon resident.

  • (Show?)

    Sal,

    You cannot name one thing in my post that is incorrect, can you? And thanks for fabricating what I do for a living. That's the most disingenous thing on this page. Because I live in Portland and have worked on campaigns in the past, I'm not allowed to have positions on races that aren't in Portland?

    Dan, this post isn't an attack on the Independent Party, I am just pointing out a statement of fact which you've further elaborated on. I appreciate that you, unlike Sal, don't automatically want to kiss and hug someone because they choose to bear the label.

  • (Show?)

    Furthur..

    what's wrong with promoting sustainable "green" jobs? We can have the best of both worlds. This "us" vs "them" when it comes to jobas and the environment standoff is just pure foolishness.

    Kitty Piercy supports both as she should and as any thinking Oregonian should. She's just the better candidate in my opinion.

    My mother and brother both live in Oakridge so I have a stake in Lane County politics.

  • (Show?)

    Jesse states, "(yes kiddies, in Oregon if you are and Independent, you are a member of a Party)." This falsely implies that joining the Independent Party is different from joining any other party.

    Weird. That's not how I read Jesse's statement.

    I thought that he was attempting to clarify that the Independent Party IS actually a party--as opposed to NAV (non-affiliated voter), which is someone who hasn't joined a party.

    I think when most people hear that the person is an "Independent", they think of them as not affiliated. At least that's my experience.

  • (Show?)

    Jesse - I take it by your response that you are not prepared to engage in an honorable discussion about the issues in the Eugene Mayor's race.

    Why am I not surprised?

    The first time we met, you made gratuitous, and in my view , slanderous comments about Dan Meek while you were an employee of the SOS. A few months later you ran for public office and ran a negative campaign against Rod Monroe. Then you trashed Harry Lonsdale, one of the state's great progressives as a paid advocate in the CFR campaign. Now you've resurfaced to trash Jim Torrey, who is as honorable and decent guy person as I've met in politics.

    Is that really how politics should be played, Jesse?

    As for Jim Torrey, I know more than a few prominent Democrats who believe that he is the best candidate in that race.

  • (Show?)

    Carla - that's probably true. It helps to remember that "independent" is non-affiliated, "Independent" is a member of a party, kinda like with "democratic" and "Democratic".

  • Marshall Collins (unverified)
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    I have to say that I am not too impressed with either candidate. I have been paying a bit of attention to this race since I live just next door in Springfield. Eugene has a lot of complicated issues to be solved regarding it's economy and sustainability. While I think that Piercy has done the best job trying to address these huge issues. Unfortunately in doing so the basic infrasturcture of the city, police, roads, basic services have really fallen on the wayside. But it isn't totally her fault. She inherited all those things from Torrey who also let them fall behind. If I lived in Eugene my vote would begrudgingly go to Piercy with the hopes that heard that she comes to the realization that she somehow needs to find balance between those big economic issues and the basic infrsturcture of running a city.

    Also, on a side note, Mark Schwebke, I grew up in Oakridge and my parents still live there. Have you looked into the council races down there? That little town is having quite the contentious election this year.

  • Marshall Collins (unverified)
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    WOW. Sorry for all the typos and missed thoughts. I am still on my first cup-o-joe.

  • Vicki Walker (unverified)
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    Sal, I have to tell you my friend, that you are fully entitled to your opinion about Jim Torrey, but to question Jesse's piece as a blatant political attack is not appropriate. I think Jesse aptly points out how preposterous Torrey's comment really is. I don't think Gale Norton needed any convincing to pave over anything, and whether she was there or not was irrelevant. Jim wanted to play with the big boys and now he doesn't because the Rs are unpopular and Bush's ratings are in the tank. You can't have it both ways.

    He endorsed Obama in the Primary, stole his tag line, and nary a peep about an endorsement in the General because it is devisive??? Excuse me? It's more likely that it is not politically expedient for Jim's supporters to have him do so.

    He may be a nice guy in your opinion, Sal, but every political move is highly calculated. As an example, in my senate race in 2006 when he was asked at a North Delta Neighborhood forum what his position was on the siting of the McKenzie-Willamette/Triad hospital in their neighborhood he refused to take a position, saying that it would be a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest for whom? Jim had no holdings in the area, like he did when Hynix was sited in West Eugene. He was not mayor at the time. He was not connected to the hospital. He didn't work for ODOT. And the audience called him on it, knowing full well that he took a "no position" response because it was going to put him at political risk of offending either side. That's not courage. That's not leadership.

    If you want leadership, then stay the course with Mayor Piercy. What you see is what you get: a mayor for all Eugene. A mayor who is honest and committed to building upon a community that will sustain itself for years to come.

  • james mattiace (unverified)
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    It really is amusing to see how toxic the Republican label has become. In 2006, Jim Torrey saw the writing on the wall and downplayed his affiliation. When he switched to Independent and ran for school board, I and many others gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was really committed to public service and especially schools. Now I see it a bit more clearly. He was positioning himself for another stab at Mayor.

    We didn't recruit anyone to run against him for school board because most of us thought he was going to wait out retirement in a position he had a lot of passion for (and was good at) . But now I am wishing we had. So now Torrey is leaving the school board and trying to move back to where he can best help his development buddies.

    If you take a look at Torrey's endorsements you'll see it is business and police. Exclusively. A quick glance at his "private citizens" list shows many developers, timber, and wealthy names - and Republicans. The list of "endorsing" Mayors are all conservative small town mayors. These people gave him half a million dollars to run for Mayor of a city with 140,000 people!

    Although Torrey may have run away from his label, he is still "palling around" with the same old crowd.

    Mayor Piercy on the other hand, has reached out to every aspect of the community. The city backlog of road repairs didn't bloom under her 4 year watch, I seem to recall a similar problem in the 8 years prior.(under Torrey) She is not liked by the police because she supports outside auditors, so they are gunning for her ( pun intended). The firefighters (ie the rest of public safety) seem to have no problems with her though.

    Getting change to happen in Eugene is hard. There are so many interest groups and agendas. Piercy was attacked unfairly, early on, for appearing too friendly with the developers. Then she is attacked for making the environment a key goal. She can't win for trying, but she has been honest about what she is trying to create. Her triple bottom line and inclusiveness is going to be a hallmark of her years at the helm. She needs 4 more to finish the job.

    Contact the Bus Project 541 344-9999 [email protected] or check out the blog to lend your last weekend to a good cause.

    Cam McNeely's post is especially poignant as I consider him one of the most free thinking and unbeholden souls in the city.

    Sincerely, James Mattiace

  • joshreynolds (unverified)
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    James

    There are about 280 cities in Oregon and Springfield ranks as the 9th largest in the state. Is that a small town? I believe Mayor Leiken endorsed Torrey for mayor. Also, to call Mayor Volta of Coburg conservative is a talking point that will not fly.

    As for the republican brand, I believe you will start seeing more pragmatic moderate republicans rising to the top who more interested in actually governing than spreading their idealogy after the Bush debacle. I mean what are their choices? This is what Rahm Emanuel did to get back control of the US House. Go out and recruit Blue Dog democrats that do not have the progressive idealogy but instead give the democrats control. The smart political leaders could count to 218 to gain control and the agenda.

  • (Show?)

    Carla, it used to be accurate to think of non-affiliated persons as "independent," because at least that was the term applied to candidates who obtained ballot access via petitioning and not by any party nomination. But it was the 2005 Legislature that changed that term from "Independent" to "non-affiliated." The vote to do that was overwhelmingly in favor among both Ds and Rs.

    So you have the Legislature to thank.

  • (Show?)

    Dan:

    For practical and pragmatic purposes (legislature or not), most people read or hear "Independent" and think of NAV. We wonky do-gooder folks who freebase politics generally don't...but we're not normal (heh).

    I got from Jesse's post that these were the folks he was addressing in that section of this post.

    Part of what Jesse did in this post is actually educate some people to this--which is a nice thing, and a service. I think he should be praised for drawing attention to this, rather than filleted.

    Oh yeah, and what Vicki said.

  • (Show?)

    Josh,

    Sid Leiken is the spokesperson for the McCain Palin ticket down here in Lane County, at least he was until they gave up Oregon for Obama. His support of Jim Torrey isn't a news flash.

    We need leaders who are willing to look at new ways of doing things and not engage in the divisive, short sighted politics that we have suffered from over the last eight years. Now would be the worst time to push the old-fashioned, trickle-down economics that have failed this country and left us all vulnerable; those are the exact policies that Jim Torrey and Sid Leiken supported with their support for Bush’s re-election in 2004.

    Kitty Piercy is clearly the best choice for mayor for Eugene.

  • james mattiace (unverified)
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    Josh,

    My apologies to the city of Springfield where I worked for 7 years. Yes, it is the 9th largest (at 56,000+) and it should not be lumped in with the rest of the small towns. It's a great city with lots of promise and a proudly pro-Bush mayor.

    ....and you made the rest of my point for me.

    Best, James

  • pete sorenson (unverified)
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    hello folks,

    i served in the oregon legislature with kitty piercy. she was a representative from the north half of the senate district when i was the state senator. kitty has been a peace corps volunteer, an adoptive parent, a lifelong public school teacher, a planned parenthood activist and one of the best mayors eugene has ever had. i've worked with her for four years in the role of her being mayor and me being the lane county commissioner for the south half of eugene. she has been a bright, thoughtful and inclusive leader.

    jim torrey has extreme views. he backed the war in iraq. he opposed efforts for choice. he merged religion and government. he had one of the worst environmental records in city government. he's backed by the same gang of development interests as he always has been. as far as the obama connection is concerned, i'm very involved in the obama campaign and ten days in PA for obama. jim torrey has not been involved in a single obama event in eugene that i know of. it's undisputed that he personally gave $2000 to president g.w. bush's re-election campaign.

    oregon progressives ignore this race at their peril. go to www.kittypiercy.com and help us out. torrey is spending a huge amount of money in this race and it's tough to compete agains that huge amount of money.

    get involved. help us win this race.

    pete

    pete sorenson lane county commissioner, attorney and former state senator and former candidate for governor of oregon eugene, oregon www.petesorenson.com

  • joshreynolds (unverified)
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    James

    Sid has been one of the most anti Bush republicans I have heard. I consider him to be much more of an Eisenhower Republcan which is why he will never be elected in a republican primary.

  • joshreynolds (unverified)
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    Val

    When did Sid support Bush? Yes apparently he is a surrogate for McCain but big deal. I just read the article and the reason he stated is because he has admired McCain. By the way, thank god for Springfield's economy in Lane County this decade.

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