Misplaced Fury

T.A. Barnhart

Here’s a blast from the past, Russel Sadler writing in BlueOregon in 2007:

It’s tempting to dismiss Speaker Minnis’ adolescent silliness as the product of a generation that was absent when the “Works well with others” gene was passed out.

Remember Karen Minnis? GOP Speaker who, with her minion Wayne Scott, ruled the Oregon House from 2003-2006; ruthless, tempermental, vindicative. She would crush anyone who got in her way. She had no qualms about punishing members of her own caucus or throwing them under the bus. When the Dems took back the House in 2008 and Jeff Merkley became Speaker, even Rs welcomed him and a return to Oregon’s historic version of bipartisanship.

I don’t think it’s an accident that the GOP has been in a downward spiral since the days of Minnis and Scott. They had an ideological agenda, and they pushed it hard, with little regard for what other members of the Leg wanted. Under their leadership, education in the state, hammered by Measure 5 and its bastard offspring, suffered even more. When the Dems took back the Leg, the first order of business – after assuring members on both sides of the aisle they’d all be welcome to participate in decision-making again – was to undo the damage sixteen years of Republican domination had wrought.

That’s why Ted Ferrioli’s complaints about the 18-12 Oregon Senate ring hollow to me.

Furious, Ferrioli asked for a recess. He and the other 11 Republican senators stalked off the floor to their caucus room to blow off steam.

Why was the Senate Minority Leader so angry? Because the Democrats were not passing Republican bills or Republican amendments. Apparently, despite losing statewide election after statewide election and watching their share of both seats in both Leg chambers diminish, the GOP seems to believe their policies should be passed into law.

"Bottom line is that all the major policy issues this year ... have been partisan," said Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend. "It's just been partisan, partisan, partisan."

When voters speak as decisively as they did in November – and in November 2012, for many Novembers before that – to complain about elected officials responding with policies backed by the vast majority of Oregon voters is the pinnacle of anti-democratic whining.

Some Democrats worry about the consequences of pushing Republicans too far. Gunning through the clean-fuels extension might have already killed any hope of a bipartisan transportation package this session; Republicans walked out on transportation talks after the vote and now insist they won't return unless the program is repealed.

Let’s be clear: the GOP was going to be pissed about the removal of that sunset under any circumstances. The party has no standing with Oregon voters; they know they will lose all three major races next year: Governor, Secretary of State, and Treasurer. They know they have no hope of undoing the Dems’ advantage in either chamber and are likely to lose at least one more House seat. They have no candidates capable of winning a statewide vote or leading the party back from the brink.

Art Robinson? Allen Alley? Julie Parrish, the Oregonian Editorial Board’s beloved “centrist” Republican? Greg Walden? Not even Walden, despite his standing in the Congress, could hope to defeat Gov Kate Brown. Oregon has areas of deep conservativism, but this is an increasingly liberal/progressive state. The GOP wants to believe the Dems are going to over-step – and would someone please tell Peter Courtney to stop being a harbinger of doom! – but Oregon voters support Democratic policies. As Sen Rosenbaum stated,

"Our majority is much more robust – we're not going to apologize for that," said Senate Democratic Leader Diane Rosenbaum.

Democrats, she said, are efficiently fulfilling campaign promises, following an agenda to ensure fairness in the workplace, strengthen education and help low-income families save.

"Those are some of the things voters told us during the election they wanted," Rosenbaum said. "We've gotten a lot done already. I feel good about that."

Elections matter. If Ted Ferrioli wants to be furious with anyone for the state of affairs in the Leg, he should start by driving up to Camas and telling Karen Minnis “thanks for effing-up my party”.

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