OR-1: First debate for Bonamici & Cornilles

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Last night, Suzanne Bonamici and Rob Cornilles faced off in their first televised debate on KATU-2. If, like me, you missed it due to Thanksgiving travel, the debate is here in its entirety. See below.

Over at Ridenbaugh Press, analyst Randy Stapilus didn't miss it, though. In his estimation:

[N]either candidate seemed to conclusively seal the deal tonight: There were no serious body blows or major gaffes.

Which pretty much counts as a win for Bonamici. This debate was co-sponsored by the oxymoronically-named Independent Party of Oregon -- whose members are participating in an online voting process right now to determine which of the two candidate will get to carry the "Independent" label in the January 31 election.

As Stapilus notes, that's a label that probably matters a whole lot more to Cornilles than to Bonamici, given the heavy Democratic tilt to the district. (The IPO election concludes on Tuesday.)

The DPO's Trent Lutz, of course, points out the absurdity of Rob Cornilles trying to re-brand himself as an independent or moderate, after being a hard-core Tea Party guy in 2010.

Predictably, after losing in 2010 on a far-right tea party platform, Rob Cornilles has been trying to refashion himself as a moderate — it won’t work. When Rob Cornilles brands himself ‘the original tea party candidate’ one year and then tries to align himself with the Occupy movement, while simultaneously opposing any proposals for the wealthiest to pay their fair share, voters are right to be skeptical about whether he has any convictions beyond getting himself elected to office.

Over at the O, Jeff Mapes has some highlights; while KATU's Steve Benham has a more comprehensive rundown.

Here's the video... What stands out to you?

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    Thanks for covering the debate, Kari. Of course, there is nothing moronic, oxy or otherwise, for desiring to be independent of both major parties or encouraging candidates to be more independent and less partisan in their approach to governance. Also, if IPO is an oxymoron, then so is NFIB, IPAA, NAIS, or any other organization or association that uses the word "independent" in its name,

    Regarding the deate... My take is that it's healthy to give these candidates an opportunity to define themselves with more than 30-second sound bytes or the negative campaigning that both major party apparatus' churn out during these election cycles. I also think that encouraging these candidates to reach beyond the narrow constituencies who participate in the major party primary elections.

    Many thanks to the candidates for agreeing to debate; KATU for hosting it; and the News-Register, Argus, and News-Times for participating as panelists.

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      Sal, the word "oxymoron", simply means a figure of speech that contains opposite terms. It comes from the from Greek ὀξύμωρον, meaning "sharp dull". (Moron in Greek means dull.)

      In this case "independent" is generally thought of by the public as "independent of all political parties", not just the "major parties" as you have decided define it. In fact, if the "Independent" Party of Oregon became as popular as I presume you hope it will, then by definition it would not be "independent" even by your reasoning.

      While the NFIB, IPAA, and NAIS, are all special interest groups (largely dominated by conservative decision makers in Washington) who spend huge amounts of unregulated campaign cash on lobbyists and political contributions, they aren't actual political parties, so the independent label can be used without it being an oxymoron.

      All this correction of your semantics aside though, let me also extend a hearty congratulations for helping to put this debate together. I'm not exactly sure where the "negative campaigning" is that you see being churned out by "both major party apparatus'" in this race, but allowing the candidates to more fully flesh out their thoughts is always welcome.

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        Steven - I would propose that how you and Kari and KC -- all partisan Democrats -- refer to the Independent Party is basically analogous to the insulting way that some Republicans refer to the "Democrat Party" or "Democrat politicians". It's not really all that democratic -- so the story goes -- so we won't refer to them that way. Yours is a similar semantic game that rests on one and only one possible definition of the term "independent".

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            Steven - While I understand that your experiences as a Democratic committee person who is married to the Washington County Democratic Chair often puts you into contact with voters, in my experience, the opposite is true.

            We get far more inquiries from people who are not affiliated who would like to vote in our election than we do from people who are members of our party who registered by mistake.

            As to your comments about the party's formation...

            IPO officers were among the few people in the state to testify against the DPO-sponsored legislation that removed the word "independent" from the Oregon ballot and that made it more difficult to seek public office via petition rather than via a political party.

            The legislature and the previous secretary of state rolled over the top of us, so we responded by forming a political party to protect ballot access for candidates and the rights of Independent and non-affiliated voters. Our first legislative success included the repeal of legislation that made it more difficult to run for public office in Oregon.

            Regarding the debate...

            I think it's healthy for these candidates to reach beyond their traditional bases of support. I am pleased that we are also using the party to bring some gravity to the public-interest center, and to encourage greater public discourse through debates like this one.

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              Sal, the key to your contention above is that you get "inquires" from NAVs. These are folks who have taken the time to understand that there is a distinction between the IPO and an NAV. Our contention has been, and continues to be, that there is confusion on the front end when new voters are registering, they do not make the distinction between "Independent" and NAV.

              There's a lot in a name, and ya'll have totally capitalized on it.

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                KC - As someone posted elsewhere, it is not easy to become a member of the Independent Party. The voter must check the box next to "Independent Party" on the voter registration form. That is the only way. You can be NAV just by (1) checking the box next to "Not a member of a party" or by (2) checking no box at all or by (3) checking the box for "Other" and writing in anything you want.

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            I do believe that a candidate whose name appears on the ballot before EVERY voter in the district gains advantage by having more than one Party listed next to his/her name on that very ballot. So did 77 candidates from 2010 who sought the nomination from the Independent Party. None of them were exclusive IPO nominees, but saw the mathematical advantage of having up to 3 Parties not simply in their corner, but actually on the ballot. There's no telling how many voters this influenced, but the term "Independent" on the ballot could be just as misconstrued as we've seen with registering voters.

            The only way to truly determine the influence would be via "exit" polling (it can be done, altho it's a little tougher w/ Vote-by-Mail) or with true fusion voting, whereby candidate Party nominations also appear with a check box by each Party and not just a single check box by the candidate.

            Unfortunately, as long as the term "Independent" confuses people, this would unduly influence voters and disproportionately elevate the status of the IPO.

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          Except that it's not analogous at all. I use the full, official name of the party.

          Some have suggested exclusively calling it the "IPO Party", which - aside from being redundant, would be exactly analogous (along with having the additional benefit of throwing in an acronym associated with Wall Street excess.)

          I'll continue to call it the Independent Party of Oregon, and I'll stand by my assertion that putting modifying the noun "party" with the adjective "independent" is an oxymoron.

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            I'm not sure how going out of your way (repeatedly) to give offense to the Independent Party or its members is in the interests of this blog, your clients, or the Democratic Party of Oregon but if it makes you feel good, go for it.

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              I just call 'em how I see 'em.

              I don't speak for the Democratic Party of Oregon, my clients, or even any of the bloggers at BlueOregon (except myself.)

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    Sal, there are a couple of core problems with the IPO which are troubling. To your political credit, you have propelled the IPO to an influencing force, but the actual construct is shaky and plays upon the voters who are less inclined to analyze the full political picture of Oregon politics.

    "Party" & "Independent" are contradictory in actual application, as well as in colloquial definition. I.E., without a concrete platform, folks who are IPO members are as likely to vote for hardline righties as true lefties. The evidence for this are the results from the last IPO nomination processes in 2010. The spectrum of candidates nominated by the IPO was not a result of consistent political thought, but a result of candidates successfully applying for IPO nomination and doing effective GOTV work.

    While the candidates did what they had to do, the underlying problem was that an IPO "nominee" in one District would be a hard right GOP candidate while in another a true blue Dem. Candidates were nominated with as little as 7 votes, and in some cases "none of the above" received the most votes, but the second place living person was given the nomination.

    Candidates didn't just receive endorsements, but nomination by the IPO (or any other party, to be fair) was printed right on the ballot, right next to the candidate's name. This is a huge influencing factor that certainly impacted votes. I give you credit, the IPO did a great job in taking advantage of Oregon's new quasi-fusion voting system.

    But IPO nomination does little to describe to voters what a candidate's leanings are; it does not describe widespread independent OR Independent support for a particular candidate.

    But it does influence votes, and you helped elect BOTH Dems and Rs - candidates that you/your Party may not have any commonality with at all.

    Is this really how you want to influence Oregon politics?

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      Carla - Thanks for sharing your concerns. My view is that if we are encouraging serious candidates to speak to our members and the general public about those issues, as these candidates did last night, then that is movement in the right direction.

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      Wait, I'm confused now.

      Is it correct that a) there's a "none of the above" option on the ballot, and b) when that options wins, the 2nd place finisher is nominated?

      That would seem to be the worst of all worlds.

      Why not respect the will of the voters and decline to nominate when "none of the above" wins out?

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        We don't have a "none of the above" option in this election. We experimented with it in 2010, but did not count the result because it was not clear whether state law would allow "none of the above" to win a balloted primary election. Only Nevada allows "none of the above" to appear on the ballot, but the state does not tally the result for "NOTA".

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          Got it. Sounds like state law needs fixing.

          I'd really like a "none of the above" option that would, in a primary, lead to no nomination - or in a general, lead to a vacancy (which would be filled in an election in which no one previously on the ballot could run.)

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    I am fairly certain that many who have read Ted Wheeler's and now Kari's comments have also been aware that California's Attorney General Harris is refusing to sign on to the plea bargain that is supported by the Obama administration. Previously, Obama forced New York's attorney general off of the panel negotiating with the banksters.

    The point that I know will not be accepted here is that Sal is correct in pointing out that neither major party has been forceful enough in requiring the rule of law to be applied to the massive fraud and liar loans which the FBI had sufficient data on to begin prosecutions in 2004.

    I know that making this comment will bring out the red herring tosers and we will (probably) once again be bombarded with references to Nader and 2000. And that is why we all need an independent party. In 2000 some said,"Do we need a third party?" And my response was that we need a second party. One party rule, the rule of the one tenth of one percent has not worked out that well.

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    I agree with Sal. Congrats to the organizers. That was better done than any of the recent Republican debates which seem more a place for "Major Media" types to strut their stuff than a place to learn about candidates. Who can ask the most clever questions to trap a candidate? Who cares? The (Trent Lutz) comment about Cornilles redefining himself from Tea Party member to Independent is a red herring. He is anti-establishment and conservative without doubt. He is a Republican because it is almost impossible to be elected without being part of one of the two parties. However, contrary to Ms. Bonamici, he is not locked into the party line.
    It was instructive to see Bonamici unable to list three items where she disagreed with the Democratic Party line.
    Any Independent who thinks that Bonamici would represent him or her is ignoring the FACT that she has supported her Party's line almost all of the time, regardless what would be best for her constituents. Even if you take the view that Cornilles is an unknown who might do the same thing (not likely in my view), Bonamici is a guarantee of a rubber stamp for the Democratic Party where Cornilles is not a similar guarantee for the Republicans. It is also constructive to know that Mr. Cornilles has created jobs and knows what it takes. Ms. Bonamici has "crafted policy" to create jobs. How has that been working out?

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      Cornilles can say anything he wants and he is doing his best Mitt Romney imitation to get elected. He doesn't even have a burden of a track record like Romney does, so it's that much easier for him to be a chameleon - Tea Party darling one minute, independently minded moderate the next.

      But if you really think that Cornilles will be the vocal independently minded AND independently voting iconoclast that bucks trends and speaks for the people of the 1st CD, grab another cup of coffee and see how many Freshman (or ANY) GOP House members buck their Party.

      ... and how has THAT worked out for America?!

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    I remember the attempt to collect "fees" from candidates vying for the IPO endorsement back in 2010. Ben Unger and Brent Barton remember what happened very well.

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      Paulie - What I was asking candidates to pay was not a fee for endorsement. It was a fee to help pay for the cost of the election, and it would have been have been applied equally to all candidates in like races. The point was to try and defray the cost of an election that was in excess of $20,000.

      I believe that one of the reasons why the SoS discharged of the matter so quickly is that in every jurisdiction in the United States in which the state does not pay for a party's primary election, political parties are allowed to charge a fee of candidates to help defray the cost of hosting the election.

      Why should Oregon not afford the same speech protections to minor political parties that other states provide?

      As a Democratic Chair, you know nothing of the work and cost associated with conducting an election. Even your precinct committee person elections are paid for and administered by the state.

      In your primary election, the state is allowed to charge candidates a fee to help defray the cost of the election.

      Why should minor parties that receive no support whatsoever from the state be prohibited from doing the same?

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    All a party needs to have a primary in Oregon is 5 percent of the registered voters, which doesn't seem like a huge amount. Another 30,000 or so folks, Sal, and taxpayers can pay for your primary, too.

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      Wayne - 5 percent of voters is about 100,000. When the Independent Party hits it, we will only be the third political party in Oregon's history to do so. As things stand, 30,000 members is more than the total combined membership of the Libertarians, Greens, Constitution, Working Families, and Progressive parties. The only other political party in Oregon history to exceed 30,000 in total membership is the Reform Party.

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    Well...its interesting how this entire thread is almost nothing about the debate.

    Seems like an argument about the Independent Party is more interesting to people than who might be the next Congressperson from the 1st CD. Weird.

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      I agree with Carla....I commented on the debate but no response. It seems no one cares about the people or their views, experience, etc., just the politics of a third party. Not just weird, as Carla said, also sad.

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        Most of us on the this thread support Suzanne, and probably don't need to keep saying that. On the other hand, the IPO is played an interesting role in this debate, and us party hacks are commenting on it. Do you and Carla really need to be so snooty about that?

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            Not at all. If me and others are expected to handle our comments being referred to as weird and sad, you ought to be able to handle being called snooty, don't you think?

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              Sure, Wayne. Whatever gets you through the day.

              But given that this entire discussion around the IPO has happened a number of times already at this blog (with extremely similar points already having been made)--and this is being done on a thread that's focused on a different topic, it seems like "weird" is the least of the appropriate adjectives.

              If it's "snooty" to point out the obvious, then color me snooty.

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        Hey, the other Carla here. I did respond the candidate discussion even as I commented on the IPO. Now that Suzanne has received the IPO nod, I am happy that she got it. But the intrinsic problems and variables that contribute to a Congressional candidate getting a Party's nomination (i.e. tag on the ballot) with just 56 voters is a huge issue & it's no wonder people are talking.

        Candidates must play by the rules in front of them, but it doesn't mean the rules are logical and designed well.

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    Sal has done a good job in putting his Party out there, getting some media, and affecting the process. However, the IPO has an amplified bark without the bite of real substance. Only about 5% of registered IPOians voted in the 2010 electronic primaries - that's around 2000 folks for the most part split between 77 different candidates. So an IPO "Nomination" could be attained by a candidate with less than a dozen votes. That nomination, nonetheless, gets printed on the ballot and sent to 30-40-50 thousand voters. That's a huge influence for so few active voters.

    Where I object to this as BOTH a progressive and a Democrat, is that this "system," as such, is out of control. Sal and the other leaders of the IPO have advocated for very good progressive ideas in the past, but issues have been lost in the dance of trying to make the IPO more influential. The fact that minor parties can nominate by any means necessary coupled with the fact that there is a Fusion voting component on the ballot, and coupled with the Independent/independent confusion has led us to electoral disharmonic convergence.

    Candidates simply use the IPO for strategic advantage, and the IPO helps elect folks who are all over the map in terms of policy advocacy. The IPO doesn't vet candidates in terms of policy position, it just throws it's candidate applicants in front of IPO voters electronically and lets the chips fall where they may.

    So right now, the IPO is all and only about election influence, but the influence is not targeted and scattershot. And every candidate has to play the game.

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      It isn't true that the IPO does not vet candidates for policy preferences. The Secretary of State recommended that we allow all candidates to compete for the party's nomination in 2010, and we complied with that recommendation.

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    As an aside, I have no problem with "minor" parties and NAVs. I look for areas where we Dems can work together w/ folks who are NAVs Greens, Working Families, etc. on progressive issues. These Parties have policies that advocate for specific issues which are also on the Democratic agenda... and, more importantly, are good for the "Commons".

    The IPO's has no real platform and is not a body coalesced out of positive action and general policy principles. It's not about advocacy, but about challenging the electoral system.

    Challenging the system certainly isn't bad thing; Gawd knows there are reams of problems. But, when trying to blow things up, it's best to figure out where the shrapnel will land.

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      Well, if you are just going to make stuff up out of whole cloth rather than taking the time to understand all of the work that has gone in to building a platform and advancing very specific policy goals legislatively, then there isn't much to say.

      One look at the front page of our web site refutes the notion that the IPO does not advocate for specific issues.

      A cursory review of media coverage around our legislative work should reveal that we have had more success than most political parties at moving an agenda for our members,

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        I did look at the front page, and I have no doubt you are putting in a lot of work to develop the Party. But when your number one issue is the "Open Primary" issue, it tells me that the IPO is most interested in working on a legislative agenda that will advance the influence of the Party rather address issues that directly impact and improve the life of citizens.

        I would add that there are indeed other issues listed that do focus on the needs of Oregonians, so that does seem to reflect some growth in the identity of the Party, and I know it's a long haul.

        Oh, and I HAVE given you credit for your legislative successes.

        But I stand by my original and most important objection. When a Party's voters can nominate a rightwinger in one district and a lefty in another, there is a huge problem.

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          82 percent of our members surveyed believe we should have an open primary. That doesn't make it the party's "#1 issue". What you were looking at on the front page were a detailed set of policy preferences selected by members using our survey process and translated into actual legislation that the party lobbied for in the Oregon legislature in the last legislative session.

          As to your original objection... What business is it of yours if our members choose one candidate over another? So far as I can tell, our members tend to vote for the candidate who does the best job of asking them. I may not agree with every decision our members make, but no one can say that it is not a fair and democratic process. One that is far more participatory than what other political parties do when they have to run their own process for nomination rather than benefitting from one that is paid for by taxpayers and administered by the state.

          100 people voted in the IPO primary election. That is substantially more people than participated in any other minor party nominating process in Oregon in the CD1 race. It is also more people than voted in any of the party special elections that the Democrats have held in 2011 to replace state legislative candidates that have resigned during this election cycle, even though there are more registered Democrats in most house districts than there are registered Independents in CD1.

          Another good point of comparison might be the Democratic party's process for replacing the congressional vacancy that was left in New York by the resignation of Anthony Weiner, which involved no democratic process, but instead the candidate was selected by a party chair.

          We are the first political party in more than a century to hold primary elections of our members at our own expense. Just holding these elections is a victory.

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            Sal- It's hard to tell if your comments are mere hubris or an outright attempt to mislead. You can defend 87 votes out of 12,000? Turnout for primaries in general and special election primaries especially tend to be low but this sets a new "low". As a IPO member for over two years now, I think it's time that you, Dan and Linda quite trying to spin this and other IPO failures, blaming others for those failures and admit that current IPO "strategies" ARE a failure. Perhaps if you communicated with actual IPO members as much as you seem to post on forums like this, If Linda actually communicated with IPO at all and if Dan Meek resigned as head of the Progressive Party and put more effort into the IPO, it would be something we could all be proud of. The 87 vote turnout is what you get when you freeze out members, refuse to acknowledge people attempts volunteer and organize for the IPO, refuse to provide any support to members of any kind, I could go on and on...Please, I beg you, spend a little more time actually working on the IPO and a little less in places like this trying to put a spin on its short comings. There are some of us who would like to "do something" about it.

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    Both stuck to their talking points and didn't vary from what I Imagine their national party advisors suggested. Which meant a predictable, average presentation of the democratic core principles by the Senator, and a mishmash of right-center positions by Rob Cornilles.

    It also meant no one really landed any punches or pulled any surprises, because neither surprised the other. It was almost as if they were afraid to aggressively challenge the other.

    Rob Cornilles had the superior delivery. And that makes a difference to some people.

    Overall, I don't see it changing Anyones mind, but if you were undecided, And don't have a leaning towards democrat or republican, then you may think Cornilles won, based on presentation.

    I'd ssuggest that next debate Sen. Bonimicci needs to turn to Rob Cornilles at some point in the debate and call him out aggressively on some point and make him debate toe to toe. Ignore hue moderator and the rules and take him on directly. For instance....you support citizens united as free speech for a corporation.. But what about the free speech rights of the shareholders who don't agree with the politics of the CEO who decided yo make the donation to his buddy? Are you sayiing corporations free speech rights as exercised by it's CEO are more important than shareholders free speech rights?

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    Kari, I know you know this because I've spoken to you about it before. Rob Cornilles is a moderate ideologically -- that is to say that he is just as unacceptable from a strict constructionist (or Tea Party) perspective as he is from yours.

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