Hot enough for you, Gov?

T.A. Barnhart

When I was down in Florida last month, with Hurricane Dennis approaching, I checked one afternoon and saw "Actual Temp 87, Feels like 94".  That's because everything east of the Rockies is one form or another of swampland, and they spend the hot days of summer steaming like vast trays of bad dim sum.  This afternoon I checked for Corvallis, and read "Actual Temp 94, Feels like 88". Wind chill!  Score.

When I rode my bike to the Benton County Fair yesterday afternoon, it was a great ride but I was a tad overheated when I arrived. After all, biking under that sun with my backpack; it took a while to cool off (the BC Dems' booth has a fan and water cooler).  I hadn't planned to go the fair at all, but the Gov was coming, so I thought I'd go and be supportive.  And since I'd gotten there plenty early, I went to look around.

Most of the fair was pretty lame -- I'm not a midway person -- but the critters was great.  The horsies were totally thrashed by the heat, but also because they were stuck in separate stalls and horses are such social animals.  The goats, however, were great.  The various small goats, some with enormous pot-bellies (I'm assuming it's late enough in the year that they aren't preggers).  They were dang cute.  But not nearly as cute as the bunnies.  The various mini buns were just too precious, with their teeny pointy ears and soft colors. I just wanted to collect dozens of bunnies.  Very tempting, but I walked away.

Anyway, not surprisingly, the Gov was late.  Actually he arrived a bit late and rather than come to the Dems booth where he was expected, he took a stroll around the fair for about an hour. Not sure I blame him; honest four-legged animals have to be a relief after the past seven months.  But eventually he showed up and spoke for just a few moments.  Being an astute pol, he played to his local base: He dropped Howard Dean's name!  I'm sure he actually is on good terms with Howard, and I am always receptive to quality Dean references.

Of course, as we waited for his appearance, and after, we talked about his chances for re-election. Our levels of doubt vary, and don't run too deep.  After all, the Rs in this state are on a downward spiral.  They have no one who can win the Metro Area, much less Lane and Benton.  Even if Ted gets bloodied in the primary, he should still win re-election, and while I'm not happy about that (I was a Bev Stein supporter), I started to realize I had not been very fair to the Gov.

Like Barbara Roberts, Ted has been given a tough Legislature to deal with.  Barbara got the height of the religious right's power, not to mention the gift of Measure 5.  She is one of the brightest, most dedicated people we've ever had in public office, and she got a double whammy.  Ted got a budget that keeps getting worse and he got Queen Karen.  Granted, he's not the most progressive Dem in the state, but he is the person, the one person in the entire state, who has the responsibility to make sure this Legislature does a good job.  He had to make sure that at the end of the day, he could work out a decent compromise with Minnis; he obviously knew from the beginning that she would do whatever she wanted to get her way.  She does not believe in democracy, and I think Ted saw this.  So he bit the bullet and did what he believed was necessary to make lemonade.

So I'm thinking now, as tempting as a "progressive" candidate would be, what we really need is a Democratic House.  We need to win those last few seats and hold on to the Senate.  Let's give Ted Kulongoski a proper Legislature, one that is dedicated to the people of Oregon and not a narrow agenda of social restrictions.  He's a good guy, an ex-Marine who served his country and, I think, truly feels the pain of the Iraq war as it cuts down Oregonian after Oregonian.  He's not our enemy, however much we disagree with many of his policy stands.  I think of Clinton and how he was hamstrung in 1994 by the rise of Gingrich.  Let's change that for the Gov.  Let's give him a real Legislature; I think he'll surprise us.

(it's too late to work up the appropriate "the heat is on" closing metaphor, and that would be lame anyway. so i'll skip that part.)

  • Peter Bray (unverified)

    Kulongoski is a total and complete failure. I will actively work against him. I will vote GOP rather than vote for this smug, anti-environment failure again: better that Oregonians get someone who doesn't lie and strut, someone who has some semblence of leadership skills, someone that acts, rather than hides and complains.

    And, believe me, if he DOES run... he will lose. Mannix will beat him, surely. Kulongoski has something like the 5th least popular governership scores out of any in the US (forget where I saw this, perhaps SurveyUSA)... he has something like a 35% approval rate.

    Bye, bye Ted. Let someone else run.

  • Pliny (unverified)

    The Roberts comparison is interesting. I suppose it's fair to say that it was a team effort with Kulongoski, Courtney, and Brown working together to squander the advantage the Dems had this cycle.

    It's a hard pill to swallow. When Ted wants to, he can be a very engaging speaker. As a former WOU student, I'm also a fan of Courtney. I just have a hard time blaming Minnis for everything that's gone wrong.

    As for winning more House seats? Good luck. I got to wander Minnis' district as a BRO volunteer. If the sample I saw is anything to go by, finding people who despise her and her tactics isn't the problem. Breaking through these people's apathy and general electoral fatigue is.

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    Kulongoski is the best chance Oregon has for reasoned government of our state. The Minnis district sounds like a good challenge for the Bus Project, Young Democrats and the DFO Dems to take on. The Dem that puts my knickers in a twist is Representative David Wu.

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    Peter Bray,

    Threatening to vote GOP is so lame.

  • LT (unverified)

    My friends and I have been talking about the Barbara Roberts comparison. While there is a limit to what any Democrat could do as long as Queen Karen controls the House, Ted K. has a healthy spouse (Roberts had to deal with a terminally ill husband on top of everything else) and I do think Minnis was less personally hostile to Ted K. than Larry Campbell was to having to deal with a female Gov.

    Don't count on it being another Mannix/Kulongoski election. I have the benefit of having Republican friends, which means I hear things that people whose friends all agree politically might not hear. This was from an end of session email from one such friend:

    I'm looking forward to being involved in the upcoming Governor's race--it ain't over until the fat lady sings and there is a lot of time between now and the filing deadline next March. I still sense no enthusiasm for any of the announced candidates and, judging by the amount of money they have raised so far, there is no joy in Muddville.

    This friend thinks 2006 is the best chance for a dark horse candidate in a very long time.

    I share the sense that it is many months until March and we don't yet know who will be running.

    And if Jason Atkinson decides to run for Gov. I think he should be peppered with questions about his "fund schools by the 81st day" bill.

    For instance:

    1) OK, so you fund schools by the 81st day. And on the 95th day (or whatever) a revenue forecast comes out that says the state has less money than expected. Do you make the cuts from human services, public safety, or other areas of the budget so that you won't change what schools got on the 81st day?

    2) Do you believe that the kicker money should go to schools? If not, and you have funded schools on the 81st day, would you return that money to both corporations and indiv. taxpayers in check form and pay for that by cutting other services? Which other services? What other changes might you make to the budget to make sure the schools are funded on the 81st day and that doesn't hurt other state services?

    3) Is a budget that does not give schools an increase for inflation but by golly is set in stone on the 81st day really what the PTA and other groups have been coming to Salem to lobby for?

    4)What town hall meetings or other public gatherings have you attended where you took questions on your proposal? How many in the group thought it was a great idea? How many asked why this was a great idea--they'd never heard of it before? Were there any hostile questions?

  • Peter Bray (unverified)

    Andrew S: I don't think so. For those who are abused and taken for granted by this Governor, well, the only way to make him, and future candidates, aware is to not vote for him. I would prefer 4 years of GOP governorship then another few decades of middling dino leadership.

  • Feelin' Blue (unverified)

    I often hear wistful rememberences from some D's about Republican governors like Hatfield and McCall whenever the subject of Ted K comes up.

    To what extent are those comments driven by fond rememberences versus actual performance? How "progressive" were they compared to Governor K.

    Speaking of progressive, I've heard of at least one or two major individual "funding partners" who are concerned with land-use who are considering throwing some big money towards Sorenson's candidacy after Kulongoski put his weight behind HB 1037.

    Does anyone think that Sorenson could beat Kulongoski in a primary if he had more serious financial backing?

  • Doran (unverified)

    I for one believe that winning the House back is the way to go, and know that it can be done.

    I and two other friends, just 3 guys (young, middle-aged and retired, spanning the age spectrum), canvassed in the 'burbs of SW Portland (Tigard, Tualatin, Lake Oswego and Beaverton) last year for 5-6 nights/week for 3 months, registered over 1100 Kerry supporters, and know that we won that seat for a House Dem (Gallagher) in what had been a (weak) Republican area.

    It can be done, and Pliny, if you say that the anti-Minnis sentiment is already there, then the only thing lacking is the ground support to register them. Honestly, don't be so easily discouraged, it's so (relatively) easy here in Oregon with our mail-in ballots ... compared to getting people to actually go to the polls, have the work is done.

  • LT (unverified)

    Speaking of progressive, I've heard of at least one or two major individual "funding partners" who are concerned with land-use who are considering throwing some big money towards Sorenson's candidacy after Kulongoski put his weight behind HB 1037. Does anyone think that Sorenson could beat Kulongoski in a primary if he had more serious financial backing?

    Has Sorenson spoken to a group not already supporters (civic group, convention of some association, college group, etc) and gotten rave reviews? Are there people from such an audience telling their friends why they have decided to support Sorenson? Because if not, could all the money in Oregon win an election for Sorenson if he doesn't have word of mouth advertising like that?

    Not all name ID is positive. In Jan. 1996, lots of people knew that Gordon Smith was the guy running the ads "we're all real tired of career politicians"---and he lost the election.

    What are Sorenson's proposals? Does he favor a new and improved State Hospital or would smaller community programs be better? Has he read the text of Measure 37 so that he can tell people if the concept of transferability is there? What can he tell us (in terms anyone could understand) about the differences between SB 1037B which passed the Senate and SB 1037 D? How would he fund schools and other services--what is his plan? Was he in there pitching for SB 1, or does he just give speeches on mental health parity? How would he handle health care?

    Would he be able to tell someone in Coos County or Crook County or Clatsop County or Lincoln County why he is the best for the job?

    <h2>Is it possible that people not yet talked about will run for Governor? Where is it written that although the filing deadline is in March no one is allowed to announce for Gov. after maybe Sept.?</h2>

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