Environmental ratings for candidates for Governor

Jonathan Poisner

In light of the recent postings on the Governor's race, I thought it would be useful to post the major candidates' and potential candidates' ratings on OLCV's Environmental Scorecard for the Oregon Legislature.

Bear in mind that we only have legislative voting records. I include Kulongoski's ratings from when he was a legislator. A broader OLCV assessment of his record as Governor will await for a different post/forum, when appropriate.

These ratings do not include the 2005 Session. Ratings for 2005 will come out in late September and will be posted at that time at www.olcv.org.

This exercise also involves comparing folks voting on different bills in very different sessions.

With those caveats behind me, in alphabetical order:

* State Senator Jason Atkinson, 1999, 2001, and 2003 sessions: average rating 10.0%

* Governor Ted Kulongoski, in Legislature 1977, 1979, and 1981 sessions: average rating 98.3%

* Former State legislator Kevin Mannix, in Legislature 1999, 1995, 1993, 1991, and 1989 sessions: average rating 50.2%. Note: his rating as a Republican in 1999 was 9%. His rating during his previous time when he was a Democrat (remember that?) was 60.5%.

* Ron Saxton. No voting record on the environment. But rest assured we've been paying attention to his public statements from his 2002 run and since then. Don't assume he's a moderate on the environment, just because he is on other issues.

* Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson, in the State Senate, 1995, rating: 96.0%

* State Senator Vicki Walker, 1999, 2001, and 2003 sessions: average rating 90.0%

* State Senator Ben Westlund, in Legislature 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003 sessions; average rating 8.3%.

  • (Show?)

    Kevin Mannix's twin voting records fascinate and astonish me. Most Republicans, Kevin included, like to claim that "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me."

    But, when he had a chance to put his votes down, he went from being a 60% enviro (not great, but middling) to a 9% enviro. All that changed was his party affiliation.

    In other words, Kevin Mannix blows with the winds of partisan grandstanding. Rather than standing on his convictions, he played the same ol' red-team/blue-team junk.

    His environmental voting record puts the lie to his well-cultivated "man of principle" persona. Mannix is a fraud and a sham.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Does Kevin Mannix still live in Oregon?

    I haven't heard from him, nor has he won an election, since the last century.

    He still kickin?

  • Oregonson (unverified)

    Can someone provide real background (rather than rhetoric) on the Mannix switch?

    I hadn't know about the switch.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    And you can be sure that when the Democratic party runs the WHite House and Congress again, Kev will switch back.

    He likes to follow the money.

    Can't really blame Kev, you seen the price of gas lately?

    $3.52 in Fresno.

    2 cents in Baghdad.

  • Betty (unverified)

    I'm sure there are a lot of explanations for why Mannix switched parties, but here is mine:

    Mannix was a moderate-to-conservative Democrat, who loved to be the tough on crime guy. When Ted Kulongoski decided not to run again for Attorney General, Mannix seemed to be the heir-apparent. In fact, even though he was running as a Democrat (in 1996), the Republicans cleared the field for him because they thought he would be a decent AG.

    But Democrats -- in particular, Governor Kitzhaber, started to get nervous. Oregon hasn't had an activist AG in recent memory, and Kitz was worried that Kevin would be the worst kind of shoot-em-up, grandstanding Attorney General. Kitz was right; he would have been.

    So in the 11th Hour -- just before the filing deadline -- a group of Dems headed by the Governor recruited Hardy Myers, the former Speaker of the House, to run against Mannix in the primary. Hardy won and wound up having a cake-walk though the General election, because the Republicans hadn't put up a credible candidate expecting that Mannix would be the nominee.

    Kevin was burned. Big time. He had been expecting to be the next AG for years. And he was blindsided by the leaders of his own party.

    So he left. Not because the party left him, but because the party left his pride... in the path of a bulldozer.

  • Patrick Allen (unverified)

    Re the AG race, Mannix's pro-life stand is what really concerned many Dems and was a major factor in the effort to draft Myers. My recollection is that Mannix's switch was couched in much discussion about the Dem's tent not being big enough for a variety of opinions on abortion.

  • Betty (unverified)


    That's a stretch. While Mannix's pro-life views may have contributed to the discomfort Governor Kitzhaber and others had with him, I don't recall abortion being an issue in the 1996 primary race. Mannix lost that race because Hardy was universally well respected as a measured, thoughtful leader. (Hardy didn't get every newspaper endorsement in the state for being pro-choice!)

    So although Mannix may have said he was leaving because of his pro-life views, abortion had very little to do with the party's ultimate rejection of him for AG.

    I also find it implausible that Mannix left the party because of his views on abortion given the constant stream of vocal pro-life Democrats we've had leading the party, from Mario Cuomo to Harry Reid.

    A bruised ego can be a big motivator!


  • Jerry (unverified)

    While I commend OLCV for putting the rankings together, I wish there was a way to evaluate Governor Kulongski as opposed to the Representative/Senator Kulongoski who represented Eugene nearly 25 years ago. As a casual observer of Salem this legislature, I didn't see Governor Kulongoski put any muscle behind ANYTHING that could be considered environmentally positive. On biofuels, continued dewatering of the Deschutes and Klamath rivers, coho salmon delistings, and state forest issues, he was either AWOL or actively engaged in moving the anti-environmental agenda. I know that education was the Dems' top priority, but if a candidate is going to run as an environmentalist (Ted did) then I expect a little more effort when the legislature is in session.

    Where's Kitzhaber when you need him?

  • Don Saxton (unverified)

    Re:Ron Saxton and the environment- One must look at Ron as a contender who would like to be known as Environmentally Friendly, ala Tom Mc Call, but the exigencies of getting voted in preclude upsetting Downstate Republicans and Eastern Oregon Conservatives who feel Environmental regulations are too restrictive as it is. Mannix is nothing but a sell out to the highest bidder- his record shows that!!!

  • Chris Shays (unverified)

    What do you get when you have a Democratic party with a top priority of getting more money for education, and a Republican party with a top priority of watering down or weakening environmental laws?

    The same kind of end of session, grand compromises we've been getting from our state legislature for the past 15 years: Republicans agreeing to give a little more money for education, and Democrats agreeing to water down whatever environmental law or bill that happens to be in play that year. It's becoming the only game the parties can play, with stalemates on all other issues.

    Hence Kulongoski's support and lobbying for so many anti-environmental bills and provisions this year.

  • Chris Shays (unverified)

    I'd vote for Ron Saxton if I thought he would be like my namesake, Republican Congressman Christopher Shays in Connecticut, or like the legendary Gov. Tom McCall.

    But I'm afraid that he might turn out to be the second coming of Bob Packwood. i.e., moderate on abortion, but fire and brimstone on the environment, and anti Endangered Species Act.

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