Democrats take Bend and Medford; fail to get wins in Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Pendleton, and Baker City
By Carla "KC" Hanson of Portland, Oregon. KC is the Democratic Party Chair of Multnomah County.
Get my drift?
Let's get a grip here. While Wisconsin Dems didn't get the three needed or the six dreamed about to take back the Wisconsin Senate, there is some reality that should be inserted here, and it needs to be pondered and addressed as Oregon heads into the special election in the First Congressional District.
First of all, Dems in the Badger Sate and their friends nationwide did stellar work against HUGE odds. They were challenging and playing on Red-as-you-get Republican turf. They DID have an impact, and as long as the Dems hold on to the 2 seats next week (they should), the Dems have a 2 seat net gain.
Democrats in Wisconsin launched recall petitions against EVERY Republican Senator that was eligible for recall, and successfully attained enough signatures in 75% of those challenges.
GOP petitioning, based on the claim that "Democratic Senators illegally fled the state" were only able to obtaining enough recall signatures for 3 Democratic Senators. One Senator, Dave Hansen, has already defended, and won his seat.
EVERY one of the GOP Senators facing recall won in 2008, a Democratic landslide year. 2 of the GOP Senators that retained their seats last night, Robert Cowles and Luther Olsen, did not even face a Democratic opponent in 2008. Olsen's victory yesterday over Democratic challenger Fred Clark was pretty lean: 52-48%
Each of the seats is up in 2012, and these elections may have broken new ground for Democratic success in the near future.
The obvious downside is that the Dems will fail to take control of the WI Senate. The WI GOP, spinning the recall survival as vindication, is not likely to slow its efforts in decimating state services, stunting the Wisconsin workforce and decapitating public education.
Despite enormous attention and phenomenal grassroots efforts, elections results (as they stand) reflect a good turnout but not a Presidential type turnout. Although the big money didn't seem to inspire vote turnout either, lower voter turnout tends to favor the right, anyway.
While these elections did break ground in for Democrats, the elections in 2012 fall are under the new District lines, drawn by and for Republicans.
This is the first full-on Super PAC multiple race election since Citizens United. TONS of $ poured into Wisconsin. 2 negatives emerge: 1) the reality or perception that money trumps all else, 2) The difficulty in tracking money leads a lack of public awareness about who is paying for campaigns. Most media is reporting total $ spent per race, but not breaking it down per candidate.
"Candidates and registered interest groups are required to report their expenses to the state, but unregistered third-party groups are not, making exact spending difficult to track." - Green Bay Press Gazette
So, while most of the public is unaware that groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads spent scads of dough on the Walkerites, the Wisconsin GOP is claiming the the 30 million bucks shipped into Wisconsin is "Union money".
Democrats may not have beaten Goliath in this round, but the landscape has become much clearer in terms of what we face for 2012. Ohio will soon have a referendum to bust the union busting efforts of the GOP... and then there's Oregon.
We will be ground zero for that "toss-up race" that is the political litmus test. Will we see the necessary energy from the grassroots Dems? Can we inspire the voter engagement that will be able to beat back the wads of KOCH cash?
OR-1 will be the bellwether for 2012. It'll be the first true read on both voters and strategies. We should take some lessons from Wisconsin, the palatable and harsh ones alike, and be sure we create the read we want the nation to see and share.