Oregon Summit Peaks

Jesse Cornett

The Democratic Party of Oregon’s fifth biennial Oregon Summit is just about to wrap up over here at Sunriver. It has been a fun gathering of 400 Democratic politicos from around the state gathered to listen, learn and even revel.

A couple highlights:

The substantive workshops ranged from healthcare and more healthcare, to education funding and how to how to engage the business community in progressive politics.  The roster of presenters was very impressive.

A straw poll on the governors race was conducted in advance of the gubernatorial forum (full disclosure, I’m a founding board member the Oregon Political Professional Organization, who conducted the poll). Former and potential future Governor John Kitzhaber’s win by seven votes was hailed as a victory by the Bill Bradbury camp, given the size of the Kitzhaber posse. His supporters were out in full force and with bright blue shirts, hard to miss.

While Bill Bradbury’s supporters were less ubiquitous, Bradbury himself took the entire weekend to be in Sunriver, likely helping his vote count. Of note, Steve Shields who also spent the weekend hobnobbing with the activists here, came in fourth place in the poll, losing to Clyde Drexler who is neither running for Governor, nor was at the Summit. Blue Oregon Editor Kari Chisholm was in the audience at the gubernatorial forum and live-blogged it.

Though he seemed a little confused by my interest when I asked him about his photography and his camera (personal interest of mine), State Representative Phil Barnhart was seen toting his Nikon around all weekend. His photos are on Barnhart's Facebook page and worth looking at. I don’t know if you have to sign up to be a friend, fan or supporter to view them, but I’m sure he’d appreciate it anyway.

Jeff Mapes from the Oregonian was the only print reporter to give the Summit significant coverage. Thanks Jeff! I feel a lot less compelled to “report” as a result (Brad Cain from the Associated Press was also here, but his articles aren't as easy find online).

In lieu of trying to chime in on the sessions I attended, I’d prefer to open it up for discussion. While there are a few Blue Oregon bloggers in attendance, I’ve seen a whole lot of commenters and readers. How did you enjoy the workshops? What did you learn? Did you change your mind on the gubernatorial race based on the forum?

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    It was a great weekend, I especially liked the informative talks of Steve Novick and other such empowering speakers about Measures 67 and 66.

    The gubernatorial forum was awesome too!

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    Jesse, I'm glad you like my photos of the Summit. They are my first attempt to use my "politician" page on Facebook to cover an event.

    I have been ( and will be) linking to articles and blogs about the January 26 vote on Measures 66 and 67. Those who become "fans" or "supporters" will be able to conveniently follow the campaign, at least as I see it. Thanks again for the recommendation.

    The DPO and all who worked on the Summit deserve a big "bravo" for this event: lots of Democrats, lots of excitement, and lots of determination to do good for Oregon and Oregonians! The Summit turned out to be a great kickoff for the "Yes" campaign on Measures 66 and 67.

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    The straw poll provides an interesting assessment of the 2 top gubernatorial candidates as viewed by Democratic activists. Factoring in that the Kitz kamp paid the way for more than 20 20-somethings to attend the Summit, plug Dr. John AND participate IN the poll, Bradbury essentially came out ahead.

    It is telling that there is such a distinct difference between the public polling and the informal poll done among the Party activists. While indeed, the Democratic public will decide its candidate for Gov. in May, we all would do well to assess why the "popular" Dr. John's popularity is at best lukewarm among activists.

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    The straw poll provides an interesting assessment of the 2 top gubernatorial candidates as viewed by Democratic activists.

    No. The straw poll provides an interesting assessment of the 2 top gubernatorial candidates as viewed by ... the roughly 150 people that bothered to go over to the party at the other end of Sunriver at 10 p.m., mostly enticed by the fantastic cocktails that were there.

    And while it was a great party, and much fun, the straw poll shouldn't be considered meaningful in any kind of way. This wasn't a straw poll conducted at lunch at the Summit, where all attendees might be there.

    I don't believe I saw a single person over 60 at the straw poll, and only a handful over 45 -- while the attendees at the Summit were mostly over 45, with a substantial contingent over 60.

  • KCleland (unverified)

    Not to mention that the straw poll was held before the governor's candidates forum, and people even got a chance to hear from newcomer Steve Shields.

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    Jesse - thanks for the post, Pauline as well.

    What was the racial diversity at the event this year?

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    If all we get is two lackluster candidates for governor, we are in deep default. Perhaps we should start over and find some worthwhile candidate. Brad or Steve: are you listening?

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    As with many of the progressive political events in Oregon, the ethnic diversity was limited.

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    As I said in the other BLOG link, I thot the straw poll results to be interesting snapshot, no more or less.

    Yet, despite its significantly non-random nature, limited sampling, and presentation w/ libations, it does provide a small glimpse of which way some activists are leaning.

    I didn't cast a vote in the poll, but I can certainly say it was well advertised at the Summit. I'm not sure generational voting made a difference one way or another, although based on Kari's observations, I would have expected more lopsided results that leaned Kitzhaber's way.

    I do agree with Kari that it would have been better to conduct the poll at (Sat.) lunch, or another point when more attendees would have participated. A second polling after the Gov. Forum than could have been interesting and even a bit meaningful.

  • DSS (unverified)


    I agree -- a straw poll AFTER the candidates' forum would have been more interesting. But it's important to consider that the straw poll is not part of the official DPO schedule.

    Regarding the limited sampling though.. a straw poll should not to be confused with an attempt at a tracking poll. Rather, it is a test of each campaign's organizing and GOTV abilities. It gives us an interesting snapshot not of where the candidates stand in the (actual) polls, but what their organization and campaign style is like.

    Kitzhaber, for example, sent some top consultants to the party along with a small army of young blueshirts. (I heard that there were very good personal reasons for his not making an appearance, but I for one didn't see him all weekend.)

    Bradbury, on the other hand, I saw everywhere, constantly. His campaign seemed to be almost micro-managed: focused more on face-to-face campaigning and turning out likely voters by handing out plenty of xeroxed invitations.

    Shields... I don't really think "campaigned" for the straw poll. Should be interesting to find out whether that was the result of not yet wanting to burst forth from the staring gate -- or not knowing how.

    In sum, I would suggest that what we learned was that Kithaber has the edge on established organization, campaign infrastructure, and delegated management.

    Bradbury certainly seemed like the abler GOTV candidate -- more likely to gather votes from outside his campaign team and willing to work harder for them.

    Looks like we might have an interesting race on our hands. :)

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    I think the straw poll is great entertainment. Should it have been held after the forum? Yes. But the group that puts on the fiesta where the poll is taken historically has a similar event and poll on the races of the year at every Summit. Every year it's held on Saturday night. The DPO certainly should be expected to schedule their program around the extracurricular activities.

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    The DPO should set it's schedule over what an extracurricular group might or might not do? It WAS the DPO Summit, not the Group Who Wants to do a Straw Poll Summit.

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    If one took my words seriously above and didn't assume I was being sarcastic (which I wasn't, it was a genuine, word missing typo), the last sentence in my last comment would have been down right asinine. It should have read: The DPO certainly should NOT be expected to schedule their program around the extracurricular activities.

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    As one of the organizers of the straw poll party, I want to provide a few facts. First and foremost, it is a party mostly intended for those of us in "the biz."

    The DPO stopped having a straw poll after 2003 because they felt it put them into a psudeo-endorsement situation in a contested primaries where they needed to remain nuetral. After Kulongoski won the straw poll in 2001, some supporters of Hill and Stein felt it made Kulongoski seem like he had an "endorsement." In 2005, concerns that Kulongoski would not fare well put the final feather on the scale and it was not added to the Summit agenda.

    A group of legislative staffers picked it up as a party that year and in 2007, always on Saturday night, this year it was hosted by the Oregon Political Professionals' Association, a newly formed treade organization for staffers, consultants, vendors and lobbyists (find us on FB for membership info and some pics of the party).

    Has the Straw Poll always picked the winner? No. In 2005, John Kitzhaber came in first in the Governor's poll following a rapid write-in campaign launched by folks dissatisfied with Kulongoski. As an interesting note, Hill placed well and later got into the primary. In 2007, the party picked the winners Obama, Merkley, Brown, Westlund and MacPherson beat Kroger by only 4 votes.

    Those of you who attend know that we run a pretty tight registration process by requiring ID and hand stamp to receive a ballot (also to prevent underage drinking). Of the 270 people who attended, 199 cast ballots for Governor. The ballot was a write-in format and besides Clide Drexler, there were other funny ones. And, as Kari mentioned, the drinks by Bendistillery were fantastic.

    The most important thing was that everyone had a fun time- that's why we do it!

  • iris (unverified)

    Kitzhaber's "army of young blue shirts" were indeed young folks, and they were PAID to be there. Many were from outside Oregon, and they all arrived together by bus.

    After engaging a few in conversation, it was clear they knew little about Kitzhaber's record, and had been given a rather vague script about Kitzhaber's health reform ideas.

    However, they were instructed to show up late Saturday night for the straw poll. Without their paid attendance, which gave Kitzhaber a slim margin of seven votes over Bradbury, the story coming out of Bend may have been quite different.

    Kitzhaber himself did not show up till very late Saturday night, and didn't even make an appearance before his own folks. He only appeared at the Sunday morning forum, and after the forum he hightailed it out of there as fast as humanly possible. No meeting or greeting, didn't take any questions.

    Is this the Kitzhaber who's said he has learned from his past and is willing to listen to folks now? He seems to be making his best effort to talk as little as possible with your average Oregonian.

    Ironically, even a couple of Kitzhaber's young blue shirts remarked to me how engaged Bradbury was with attendees. That giant sucking sound you hear is....

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    I must say that the Straw Poll is a fun thing and certainly to me one of the highlights of the weekend. The only thing I was a little disappointed in was ballot choices (or lack thereof)

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    Kitzhaber was scheduled to be there on Saturday, but made a last-minute decision to spend time with his family. (I don't know what was going on, but I understand it was a serious situation, but not life-threatening.) As for Sunday, he hung around after the forum - and then left for his next scheduled event as the final round of workshops got underway. (Are you suggesting he should have hung around and pulled attendees from the workshops?)

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    Uh Kari, you didn't exactly have to pull people out of any of the workshops. Even while they were in session, it was hard not to trip over two dozen conference attendees hanging out in the hall shooting the breeze (which is not to say Kitz should have got their early or stayed later or anything).

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    That's true, Jesse. Except that I think if Kitzhaber had hung around in the lobby outside the workshops, fewer people would have gone inside.

    As someone who's done a lot of workshops at a lot of conferences, I can tell you it's pretty frustrating when there's something unscheduled going on out in the hall and no one comes in to listen to the presentation you've prepared.

    <h2>I wish John would have been there all weekend, but between the Archimedes conference on Friday and the family issue Saturday, well, that wasn't meant to be.</h2>

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