Sen Jason Atkinson: coincidence or calculated?

Carla Axtman

For the "no good deed goes unpunished files", I give you Oregon State Senator Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point). A recent piece in the Christian Science Monitor on Atkinson revealed that his efforts to tone down political incivility have been met by some pretty uncivil behavior, in great share by members of his own party.

Jina Moore, Christian Science Monitor:

“I called both sides on the carpet,” he says. “The fallout was amazing.”

His office filled with hate mail, even threats.

“I actually had to have the sheriff park outside our home for about six weeks,” he remembers. “Almost all of the anger came from my party, and I was just dumbfounded. ‘Did you guys not listen? What’s the deal?’ But that’s politics. It’s sad, but that’s politics.”

Yikes. Threats to the point of needing the sheriff? Anger almost all from his own party members?

Atkinson seems to have made a concerted effort recently to move away from the most conservative policy elements of his party. And now this curious discussion of threats and anger--from his own party members.

Is Atkinson working to position himself as a moderate in order to fulfill aspirations for higher office? Or is this simply a coincidental series of events?

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    i got to meet & know Jason a bit during the session. i think, like a lot of men, becoming a father has forced him to rethink some things (his support of the BPA bill, for example, which he admitted on the Senate floor was a result of his wife turning their home into a branch office of the EPA). but more, i think he actually is a good guy. we talked about bicycling & racing (he's an ex-pro); we talked about his problems with Salem being so far from his home. the guy also loves being in the Senate, he loves the Capitol building, and i think he really wants government to be effective on behalf of people who need it.

    in short, i don't think he likes the attitudes or the politics of the Tea Party. yes, he's a conservative & that's not my politics, but he seemed to me to be a good guy. it's kind of weird that opposing strident, high-pitched, angry, confrontational political activity is now how we measure "moderate". if he's anti-choice, pro-M36, pro-development, pro-logging, anti-"regulation", pro-low taxes, etc -- that's moderate? no, but our political times are so bizarre now, what you advocate can be irrelevant as to how you advocate.

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    oh, and i think he's definitely got a bit of positioning going on, but i think it's genuine to a large degree.

    (and Janie Har noted this post in her Oregonian summary of political news.)

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    T. a.'s thoughtful comment, I think, goes to the heart of the political disaster that increasingly dominates state and national politics. It's worth remembering that Mark Hatfield was a moderate Republican who presently would be excoriated by the base. As a Democrat, I find his almost cordial approach to debate refreshing; I can respect the man though I may abhor some of his positions. The fact that he seems genuine suggests that there may be a chance for conciliation, somehow. Finally, I have to say that Axtman's closing paragraph is a cheap shot--remember, this is a Dem writing. Tossing in a baseless snark to suggest duplicity isn't journalism; it's an attempt to stir the same vitriol that Atkinson's trying to overcome. It's ironic, actually; she encourages the uncivil behavior that she notes in her open. If she must take an editorial position, why not congratulate the guy for sticking his neck out?

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      First of all, I'm not a journalist. Sometimes I fall ass backwards into journalism--but I'm a blogger and comment on policy, campaigns and candidates. That's inherently and editorial position.

      Second, I'm not sure how asking the question about Atkinson possibly positioning himself for higher office is "uncivil" and "vitriol"?

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      Mark Hatfield's nephew is the chair of the Tea Party in Oregon. Weird huh?

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    thanks for you compliment to me, but i don't see where you're getting your comments on Carla? she asked a question that would come to most people thinking about Jason's career. i don't think he'd be bothered by it at all. it's one he needs to answer, given his party's kowtowing to its radical fringe. and given the GOP's capitulation to the TP, true moderates in the party actually DO have to work to be seen as moderate -- and for that not to be a liability with GOP voters.

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    A quick read of right-wing blogs, or a short listen to right-wing radio, is all it takes to realize that there are a lot of nasty people on that side of the aisle.

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    There are nasty people on both sides of the aisle. Perhaps that is one reason for the growing ranks of non-affiliated voters. However, that is not the tenor of Carla's piece here. Is Jason atkinson tracking to the middle? and is it politically motivated?

    Even a casual observer of Mr. Atkinson would agree his roots are in the extreme right conservative Christian parts of the republican party. Those are his roots. Sure, we all grow and take reviews of our positions, but Jason realized about 3-4 years ago that a republican seeking state-wide office needed to be more moderate in their views and legislative intent. Witness some of his more public bills this past session.

    It will be interesting watching his continued political growth along with the reactions of his political foes and supporters.

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      I've known Jason since he first entered the legislature. He's always been conservative but he has also always shown an interest in finding practical solutions to real problems. And the "nice guy/regular guy" element that T.A. describes has always been a central part of his persona.

      It's always fair to question a politicians motivations and I don't think Carla stepped over the line at all. Personally, I'm convinced Jason's positions on these issues are sincere.

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    Jason's wife cleans my teeth. She is a terrific person!

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