Campaign 2006: Game On!

T.A. Barnhart

Ok, the political season never really ends.  We live in a state of perpetual conflict over beliefs and issues, and in terms of politics, we segue from one campaign to the next with only a brief stop to take down lawn signs and put up Christmas decorations.  But for those of us to whom politics is important (those who, among other things, read blogs like BlueOregon and the incredibly brilliant "Tin Cup Chalice"), politics and campaigns are never far from our thoughts.  Even before one campaign is even done, we're pondering what comes next -- and what comes after that.

So to say that the next campaign season began tonight in Benton County is a bit ridiculous, but I've yet to let that stop me.  (In a country that elects a divorced, non-church-going actor over an evangelical Christian, and which elects a bumbling, cowardly, liar over an intelligent, dedicated war hero -- I should worry about being ridiculous?)  But tonight is as good a starting point as any.  Across the state, people gathered in homes for, yes, House Parties.  These are becoming ubiquitous fixtures here on the left, but for a good reason.  They are a good idea.  Bring some friends and neighbors together, talk about something specific, maybe watch a video, and then go do something about the concerns raised that evening.  And if some money can be raised for the cause, cool and groovy.

The house parties tonight were sponsored by the Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO) and as a draw, we had a conference call with DNC Chair Howard Dean, Congresspersonage Earl Blumenauer (I believe he was using a cell phone on his bike), and State Rep. Jeff Merkley, who frankly, sounded as if he could have used a nap.  This would be a good sign that he's been out busting his butt to promote Democrats across Oregon, which I am sure he was doing.  That was the focus of the house parties tonight, and of Gov Dean's call.  He spoke of our beloved House Speaker -- but, with the wisdom of a wizard refusing to speak not the name of He Who Must Not Be Named, did not name Her either -- and how she hid government from the people of Oregon. 

That is the great political cause of the next 365 days.  One year from tonight, the votes will be counted and we'll know if the 2007 Legislature will deal with the issues responsibly and democratically, or if they will sacrifice the needs of the people of Oregon to partisan politics.  The Oregon Legislature, and control of it by the Democratic Party, is the greatest challenge we face in the coming year.  Yes, me absolutely must keep the governor's seat, and we must defeat any ballot measures the wingnuts try to push before us.  We must elect good mayors and city councillors and sherrifs and every other office.  We must bust our own butts in the cause of democracy, but in Oregon, where almost every issue of importance is placed in some way in the hands of the Legislature, we can no longer afford to let those hands be the greedy, grasping, hateful claws of the Queen of Darkness and her minions.   

Here in Benton County, nine of us gathered (the tenth was at home with a bum knee) at the North Albany home of Sam and Clark, we sipped drinks and ate baked apples while listening to the conference call, we pledged money to the cause, and we talked about what it would take to win the House.  How could we unseat a barely competent Republican in Linn County?  What other counties could we help, given how safe the HD 16 seat is (despite its current difficulties)?  Would our embattled representative resign in 2 weeks, or would it get ugly?  Would Kitz challenge Gov K?  And was Sam up to a really big challenge?

So -- it's on.  We're spending money, we're talking strategy, and we're doing.  We have a special convention to hold in 3 weeks or so, to select 3 candidates for what should be an open seat.  This process is filling up the ranks of PCP's, a good thing, and it's helping us get started on the tools and programs we'll need for 2006.  The website is getting a bit more view, and mailing lists and databases are being checked out.  New volunteers are starting to make themselves known.  More candidates are being recruited.  The real action will start in January, but there's no doubt.  Election 2006 is under way here in Benton County.  And you know what?

We are gonna kick some serious red ass.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)

    Yeah! Great conference calls last night (at our party we listened to the DFA call with Howard and Jim Dean first, then tuned into the DPO call with Earl, Howard, and Jeff M.). People are fired up and we are going to take back the House.

    Bless Jeff Merkley's heart, and he's doing a terrific job, but he does need to pep up his delivery a bit. Plus, we can't rely on a lengthy recitation of why people should vote for D's. (Rep. Merkley clearly felt he was zipping through the agenda and yes the issues are complicated, but we have to have a short version.) Still lacking (that I have heard) is the 10-second "elevator" message that we can all use to quickly get across the D's positive agenda for making Oregonians' lives better.

    How about: the Democrats are for everyday Oregonians: good government, strong schools, health care and help for working families.

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    I was a little bit skeptical about this initial DPO Houseparty effort when I got the call from Mac Pritchard (one of the top fundraisers in the entire state in '04). After reflection, this is actually another sign that PenderEdmonson is "getting the message" that the Dean Brothers have been pushing for over a year now.

    There was (one assumes) cameraderie There was exciting teleconferencing There was a clearly stated goal (defeat of Minnis) There was a specific explanation of expenditure (the ad)

    All in all, a hat tip to The Party Boys!!! They again demonstrate their expertise as Tiger Riders.

    (No, I didn't have time to attend, but I did send in my donation through the good offices of the lovely Marcia Brown, our House District Leader.)

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    At Rob's party last night, one person brought up that the message should be "what's good for all Oregonians."

    We had a great time at Rob's house and had some time to ask questions of both Rob and Jeff. It was nice to see so many people out, especially those in H.D. 49.

  • Rep. Diane Rosenbaum (unverified)

    SE Portland rocks! I attended 2 houseparties last night, hosted by Shane Jackson (our Dist. 42 leader) and by my constituent Sharon. Both were packed with people, both had great thoughtful discussions about how Dems can change the legislature and the future of our state, and both were really fun! As far as our message, we are about practical solutions to the problems of real folks: expanding affordable healthcare, controlling energy prices by outlawing price gouging, and creating good jobs that can support families. At Sharon's party, people were actually singing to her live piano backup. With this kind of energy, I know we're gonna win! And when we do, we will give Oregonians a legislature they can be proud of again.

  • Andy N. (unverified)

    "which elects a bumbling, cowardly, liar over an intelligent, dedicated war hero -- I should worry about being ridiculous?)"

    Well, TA, you got it half right...the bumbler...but if your guy was so intelligent and dedicated as you claim, I think he would have won. No, he lost because he was slimy and untrustworthy. I still haven't forgiven you Democrats for not giving us a reasonable alternative to Bushie. All you had to do was nominate a candidate who could earn the trust of those of us in the middle, and your man failed miserably. So while Bush was bad, Kerry was scary, and you only have yourself to blame for giving us four more years of him.

    Why don't you convince Earl to run for something bigger? We could use more like him. Dean makes most non-Democrats want to throw-up.

  • James (unverified)

    Yeah - Earl should definitely run for something bigger!

  • dmrusso (unverified)

    Andy N: The people that are to blame are not the Dems for Bush getting a second term, but rather those that voted for him. You don't blame the victim of the rapist, but the rapist for the crime.

    If you lack the concept of forgiveness, I could refer you to a few counsolors. It takes time, but remember forgiveness is an act of courage and strength.

  • Andy N. (unverified)

    dmrusso: touche. Good point. But I do think the D's are culpable in not running a better candidate. Bush was beatable, but not by someone like Kerry. You guys need more candidates with Earl B. I'd vote for him for President....or even Governor.

    I don't think you understand the pain many of us Independents felt at having to choose between two particularly lousy candidates.

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    I understand what you mean. My husband, who is a Republican, voted for Bush not because he liked him, but because he hated Kerry. There were many people out there who hated Kerry and either didn't vote or gave their votes to Bush.

    I voted for Kerry, but only because I wanted Bush out of office. In the primary I voted Kucinich since Dean wasn't on the ballot.

    Of all the Dems who ran, Dean was the only one my husband would have voted for. Why? Because he seemed fairly trustworthy and is a fiscal conservative (my husband is a fiscal conservative and typically falls between socially moderate to socially liberal).

    I said time and time again that Kerry was the wrong person to nominate-- even way before he had the nomination. We used to have huge arguments on the Mult Dems Yahoo group about it. I'll never vote for him again, nor will I vote for John Edwards. Edwards has shown himself to be a backstabbing jerk and is not trustworthy at all.

    I'd like to see Governor Bill Richardson (New Mexico) run. He's intelligent, seems trustworthy, has a good personality, good ideas, etc. Many people were impressed with him during the national convention.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)

    Rep. Rosenbaum wrote: practical solutions to the problems of real folks: expanding affordable healthcare, controlling energy prices by outlawing price gouging, and creating good jobs that can support families.

    thanks for posting! I like this message a lot. Can we add something about school funding? How about "supporting strong schools"?

    The problem there is the rightie frame is that unions are to blame for school funding problems. They don't acknowledge the basic economic fact that education is one of those things in which skilled labor makes up the lion's share of the costs. That is just the way it is. And if anyone thinks teachers are in their job for the money they are kidding themselves.

    Anyway I do hope the D's are going to be coming up with a fairly uniform short message like that outlined by Rep. Rosenbaum, and spreading it far and wide!

  • dmrusso (unverified)

    Andy N: It can be argued, quite strongly that are NO independants, only opportunists that vote for their own self-interests.

    Kerry's weakness was not in his political message or his background. It was in his inability to translate that across TV screens. Americans are media whores. We rely too much on TV for our news and thus lack the power to make informed choices. We rarely care about what a candidate stands for, more than how he looks on TV or connects with voters on a more sublime level.

    I saw Kerry in person and I was impressed, but do not doubt that there were better candidates. Few voters possess the academic forte to connect with Kerry, which is very sad, but true. One of the reasons why Bush won is because people identify with him as a regular American, not a good student whatsoever and fairly limited in his knowledge of the world outside of the U.S.

    The Democractic Party has learned a great deal from their loss in '04. But, let us not forget that the Conservative movement took the defeat of Goldwater to get its jump start. Thirty years later, the Republican Party is a formidable opponent. I hope that it does not, but it could take a while before we see a similar shift to Dems.

    As to being fiscially conservative, this is a selfish value whereby those that have money and have earned such money refused to acknowledge that it was due to their American hertiage that they were able to gain such wealth. They would fare less well in other nations without such opportunities. But equally so, one of the purposes of government is to provide for those that were not born of wealth, nor have had all of the same opportunities in life. We owe our citizens an equal education, health care, retirement and equal rights. Fisicial conservatives nominally do not believe in such things, when in reality we are only as great as the weakest among us.

    The legacy of conservativism will not be social conservativism, but the selfish anti-tax rhetoric that claims that the rich have more rights than those that are poor. It is the arrogance that believes that their wealth is not provided to them by the providence of being born in America, but only due to their hard work. The wealthy of our day have grown distant from an American ideal of investing in "our" future, "our" culture, but instead, more often than not see only their "own" future.

    Fisical responsibility is more apt an approach. It means balancing budgets, having rainy day funds, using troops for only humanitarian missions, raising people out of poverty so that they can better contribute to society and assuring that we are pro-active in healthcare and education so that we can safe undue costs in the future.

  • Sharon Streeter (unverified)

    I hosted a party Wednesday, and was deeply moved by the support for the cause by all who showed up, but what really struck me was how little we actually talk about state politics - I think we're so obsessed with our national heresy, and depressed by Oregon's fall from grace, we aren't paying the attention we could be to what the Dems are trying to do. My hope is that these house parties not only kickstarted a campaign, but convinced people to take their activism to state politics. Sharon

  • blueyou (unverified)

    I think we should have Neil, kelly wirth, matt hennessee, and david wu run for higher office...what a stable of garbage...rapist, child molesters and drug addicts....nice...proud to be a blue state.

  • Dixiecrat (unverified)

    My Dem dream ticket for 2006 would be Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia and and Edwards. A Warner-Edwards ticket! Man, that would be so cool.

    Not as cool as a Jesse Ventura and John Stewart ticket, but close. Can anybody say VENTURA & STEWART 3000!!!!! Jesse & the Jew 3000!

  • Dixiecrat (unverified)

    Oh, ...for anyone that doesn't know ...John Stewart 3000 is the musician Jew3000 ...not the dude from the Daily Show (although I like him too) ...also, don't confuse Jew3000 with Andre 3000 ...that's somebody else too.

  • Helen (unverified)

    I tend not to believe anybody during the elaction campaign. But this time i think I know whom to vote for. But would you please explain what is really "What's good for all Oregonians"

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    That's the message we need to craft-- what's good for all Oregonians. Things like...

    That fully funded schools are good for all Oregonians-- businesses are more likely to come if your schools are good; it means the workforce we're turning out is better educated; kids have less time to get in trouble if there is a full school year; etc.

    That health care is good for all Oregonians-- healthy people miss less days of work; if people have insurance they're more likely to get treatment early on for illnesses; if people have insurance, there will be less unpaid large bills to pass along to the rest of us-- something like a third of our premiums go to pay for that; etc.

    That fully funded police departments, jails, and crime labs are good for all Oregonians-- crimes are actually investigated and the evidence tested- right now evidence from rapes sit around and await testing because the money isn't there; property and identity theft can be quickly investigated and the criminals caught; jail beds will be available to keep criminals behind bars as opposed to the revolving door; etc.

    That well maintained roads and bridges are good for all Oregonians-- businesses are more likely to come if your transportation system is in good shape; it'll do less damage to your car; there will be less detours due to vehicle weights on bridges being lowered; etc.

  • Bailie (unverified)


    You say, That fully funded schools are good for all Oregonians-- businesses are more likely to come if your schools are good; it means the workforce we're turning out is better educated; kids have less time to get in trouble if there is a full school year; etc."

    What is your definition of "fully Funded"? Does it have anything to do with ability to pay? Many would suggest that Oregon K-12 is "fully funded" at this time, the revenue is not allocated well. Oregon has funded K-12 education "per student" higher than Washington, Idaho, California and Nevada, every year for the last 15 years. Oregon has funded K-12 higher than the U.S. average 12 out of the last 15 years.

    Oregon funded K-12 very well and above the U.S. average during the decade of the 1990s. Yet, business didn't come. To the contrary, Oregon had the highest unemployment in the U.S. for the five-years following the decade.

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    I told you over and over again I'm not going to get into this with you. Oregon's per student funding is less than the national average. It's also less than every one of the private schools in the area whose info I was able to find. And just because you're higher than your neighbors doesn't mean anything-- maybe they aren't funding their schools well enough either (which there has been quite a bit of a fight about in Washington and California).

    During the 90s Oregon also had some of the crappiest roads and bridges. Its electric rates were going wild. You've got to fix several things in order for businesses to come here. But the item about a better education system comes straight from businesses, it's not something I made up.

    But this posting isn't about the specifics regarding education. And therefore I'm not getting into it with you here. I was giving Helen some examples of what we were talking about in regards to "what's good for all Oregonians."

    Please stop trying to hijack every single posting in here just because someone mentions the words schools or education.

  • Bailie (unverified)

    Jenni, You say, "During the 90s Oregon also had some of the crappiest roads and bridges. Its electric rates were going wild." I agree that these things you mentioned are important.

    Oregon roads have always been considered better than many states and electric rates were (and are) among the cheapest in the U.S. during the decade of the "90s".

    According to 1995 statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy, Oregon has the 4th CHEAPEST electricity rates in the nation. The average, delivered price of electricity to all Oregonians' homes, small businesses and manufacturers was 4.8 cents a kilowatt hour. What's even better news is that in late 1996, many Oregon electric utilities REDUCED their retail rates even more.

    Electricity customers are usually categorized by sector...residential, commercial and industrial. Residential customers in Oregon enjoy the 3rd CHEAPEST rates, compared to rates charged to residential customers in other states. The statistics show that Oregon's average residential rate was 5.5 cents a kilowatt hour. Only Washington and Idaho on average, have lower residential rates.

    Oregon's small businesses, the commercial customers, enjoy the 4th CHEAPEST electricity rates in the United States. The statewide average for commercial customers was 5.1 cents a kilowatt hour.

    Also from NEA Research (2004):

    1) "Per Capita Expenditures for Health & Hospitals, Oregon ranked 10th

    2) "Per Capita Expenditures for Corrections", Oregon ranked 6th

    3) "Per Capita Expenditures for Police & Fire", Oregon ranked 14th

    Oregon has historically funded the public sector very well, especially since we are a relatively poor state.

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    The years you're talking about did indeed have a good number of businesses coming into Oregon-- it was called the tech boom. There were a good number of businesses coming into town then.

    However, at the end of the 90s into the beginning of the new millenium we saw electric rates soar. I now pay just as much for electricity for my small apartment than my sister does in Texas for a 3 bedroom house that is 60+ years old and a lot less efficient/insulated than my apartment.

    And to say we had roads better than many in the nation is a joke. It may be that they were thought to be some of the best. However, the damage to our bridges didn't just happen overnight-- these bridges were falling apart in the 90s. And this terrible traffic congestion has been here for a while. It was here when I moved to Oregon in 2000, and I know that's not something that happened overnight either.

    I come from a state with great roads-- Texas. They are constantly working on them to repair the freeways, add lanes, fix bridges, etc. I've driven from Texarkana to Mexico and those are some of the smoothest roads I've ever been on. You don't know great roads until you've driven on some of their freeways. Even with several times more semi trucks on their roads every day, they are still smooth and without ruts. Most are even paved with concrete-- not asphalt, as many are here.

    This is the last time I'm going to get into these things with you... you just want to turn everything around to education and that we our teacher pay/benefits are too high. That's not the topic of this post, and this is the last time I'm going to talk about this.

    <h2>If you want to get back on topic, be my guest.</h2>

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