Updated: Westlund Quits GOP, Runs for Governor

Benwestlund_1Editor's Note: This post has been updated. See below.

State Senator Ben Westlund, who is considering a run for governor, has dropped his Republican affiliation -- and will register to vote as an independent.

From the Bend Bulletin:

Westlund, 56, whose district covers most of Deschutes County, has been mulling a switch for almost a year but decided last week to formally make the change, he said in a telephone interview.

"There are things about both parties I like, but I don't fit neatly into either one of them," he said.

Westlund was still registered as a Republican on Monday.

The switch to independent status could pave the way for a gubernatorial bid, which has been rumored for months. ...

"As I continued to examine my role in the party, it became clear to me that it just wasn't a good fit and wasn't intellectually honest," he said. "They're unhappy with me half the time, I'm unhappy with them half the time." ...

"I think that this move, at this time in Oregon political history, can help set an example by helping to reduce the extreme partisan gridlock that has so paralyzed our Legislature.

"The posturing and preening, the brinkmanship for the sake of winning a political point at the expense of the Oregon's people, was something I found increasingly intolerable."

UPDATE: Westlund has announced that he is running for governor. From the announcement on his website:

We must bridge these partisan divisions that’s keeping us from solving our problems. That’s why I am running for governor as an Independent.

Discuss.

  • (Show?)

    Some people aren't listening: 'Jackie Ehlers, secretary of the local Republicans, said Monday the move could be detrimental to Westlund in a future election.

    "I don't know where he is headed with this maneuver," she said. "I hate to lose a good Republican."'

    He won both party primaries last time, Jackie. He's not headed anywhere--it's where YOU'RE headed that's bothering him.

    Good for Ben. Anytime someone with that much credibility acknowledges the intellectual dishonesty of the current Republican leadership (statewide and nationally), it's a plus.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Run Ben Run! With Hill and Westlund in the race, that should assure that civil, intellectually honest policy debates about the future of Oregon drown out those who want nothing better than to bash those they disagree with.

  • sasha (unverified)
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    Jim Hill intellectually honest policy debate?

    Did you hear him on Marc Abrams' show Sunday? Honest, maybe. Intellectual? Hardly.

    He is an honest union flack, I'll give him that. He made no bones about it he would protect PERS, fight any privatization and otherwise be a faithful steward of the status quo.

    Of course he took about 75 times longer to get that across in his own inarticulate way. I couldn't believe how bad he was. It showed how you can have almost no talent at all and still be a successful Democratic politician in this town.

  • (Show?)

    Can you say Governor Mannix?

  • whaaa? (unverified)
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    Sasha -

    Did you even read the post or do you just have an auto message for blogs? My guess is that you didn't read what you were posting to because Westlund is not Jim Hill.

    Ugh, can't you at least try to spread vitriol that is on topic?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Sasha, why don't you join the other anti-union people and go campaign for Mannix or Saxton? He is an honest union flack, I'll give him that. He made no bones about it he would protect PERS, fight any privatization and otherwise be a faithful steward of the status quo.

    Where in this country are government services delivered at the same or lower cost with the same or higher quality after privatization than before? How'd that Edison Schools experiment (or any other schools for profit" experiment) work out. Are they getting profit for the shareholders, high test scores and community support? If so, give us a URL for such a news story--haven't heard that.

    Did Hill say "I will protect PERS" or did he say there had been a court decision on PERS and it should be given time to work?

    Intellectual honesty, by the way, means quoting people accurately.

    Ben Westlund said during one of the umpteen special sessions "Gov. Roberts was right about Measure 5 in everything but the timing".

    That is an intellectually honest statement--that Gov. Roberts' predictions might not have come true while she was Governor, but that the early 21st century problems with balancing the budget were a result of what Measure 5 had done. I don't think Measure 28 was intellectually honest (passed just to get them out of the building and then many legislators campaigned against it) nor was "mystery money" (vote no on 28 and there will be no drastic cuts but when 28 failed there were drastic cuts).

    Nor was the "bucket plan" which is why Senators refused to agree to a special session to pass it---I think Westlund was one of those Senators who opposed the bucket plan.

    But there are some folks who don't want to talk about that recent history--as long as they can say taxes are bad, unions are bad, and if only PERS and unions would vanish all problems would be solved, they think they are winning politically. Except there are those of us who don't think making PERS and unions vanish will give all Oregonians health care, fund schools adequately, put more troopers on the highways etc.

    Let's be clear. It is time for serious debate.

    But serious debates involve stating an affimative proposal.

    If Sasha wants to find a candidate who says "vote for me because government services should be privatized, we should end PERS and disband unions and then all Oregon's problems would be solved" then that would be an intellectually honest candidate. But I don't see such candidates.

    Sasha, who do you support for Gov? Or would that require you to give an answer beginning "I support..." when what you really want to do is only tell us what you don't like, not what you support?

  • (Show?)

    Running for Governor as an Independent's a tough road. Oregon isn't Texas (thankfully), but here's a link to an amusing video from Independent Texas gubnatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, 10 Things That Are Easier Than Running for Governor as an Independent.

  • bluedemocrat (unverified)
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    I like Ben. I have seen him in action at the legislature.

    But there is a big problem which will come to light. The Oregonian, as well as other newspapers, are aware of sexual harrasment allegations against Ben several years ago. I heard this from a media person this week as the Ben story started getting traction.

    I do not know of the disposition of this, but if there is any truth to this, he is cooked.

  • LT (unverified)
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    "heard this from a media person" therefore it must be true?

    Did Bluedemocrat post that rumor to get it out in the open?

    Or just to whisper across the proverbial back fence?

    I hope we don't have a situation where no one's ideas can be discussed because of a personal allegation.

    Allegation is not proof. I believe someone is innocent until proven guilty.

    I hope this is not a case of someone wanting to bring down a maverick politician and doing so with a rumor because people admire the guy's ideas.

    I don't believe rumors, and tend to distrust those passing them along, so if Bluedemocrat has no more evidence than "heard it from a media person", please be advised that unless there is an actual charge made in court (or at very least "Sue Smith today accused...)which it is possible to prove/disprove rather than just vague allegation, that I will think less of those like bluedemocrat and am less likely to believe anything they say in the future.

  • (Show?)

    I can't see Westlund getting any less of a break on such allegations than David Wu did. Whatever you think of Wu or his actions, it was infinitely smart of him to come out immediately, confess the whole story, apologize and let people judge him as they saw fit. Should Westlund face a similar tribulation, assuming it's not something truly heinous I don't see why he couldn't overcome it with the right response--one he seems well capable of delivering.

  • Winston Wolfe (unverified)
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    Blue Democrat,

    The Oregonian is not going to run a story about Sexual Harassment about Ben for one major reason: "A Three Way Race Is More Exciting."

    The only way they would give this story up is to have video tape of him playing grab-ass with an intern and his Grandmother there to identify him. Otherwise, they will not give-up a great twist to an otherwise boring gubernatorial race and open themselves up to a defamation of character lawsuit.

    Anonymous: Ben doesn't pull too many more Democrats than Republicans if he runs for Governor. He's a push--A Ross Perot (with a better vocabulary).

    Ben's candidacy is dependent on bring out those people that are tired of politics and have disengaged from the system; not siphoning off current Democrats and Republicans. He wants to be the voice for those Oregonians in the middle who have just had enough of partisan politics. This is very sweet, but also the reason he is going to lose in a landside if he runs for governor.

    So Senator Westlund if you are reading this please just remember this simple fact: "People who don't vote---DON'T VOTE!" Your strategy is as likely to work as Kerry's strategy to get 18-30 years olds out to vote (2000:15%--2004:15%). Sure there are people that care that don't vote, but we are talking about 20,000-30,000 people in Oregon. For a statewide race…who cares?

    Ben is a great guy and a wonderful voice for Oregon. I truly hope that all you crazy, nut-case, liberals can get past the fact that he had an (R) at the end of his name and just give him a chance. Trust me you will like what you see.

    But Ben do all of us a favor, stay out of the Governor's race. You are going to lose and if the Republicans take the Governor's seat you will be forever labeled as Oregon's Ralph Nader.

    Congratulation on having the balls to stick it to the State Republicans.

  • activist kaza (unverified)
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    If Westlund's NOT running for Governor, it's hard to understand just what he's up to. This isn't the US Senate circa 2001, where the independence and ability to caucus with the opposition party will make any difference at all. So it seems most probably about laying the groundwork for a run. And if anybody's interested in signing his petition in a few months, remember that you have to sit out the primary vote for Governor to do so (thanks to Mary Nolan, Derrick Kitts & friends)!

  • LT (unverified)
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    The Oregonian is not going to run a story about Sexual Harassment about Ben for one major reason: "A Three Way Race Is More Exciting."

    O, so now it is a conspiracy?

    What is the accuser's name? When and where did this happen? Does the Oregonian really know anything, or just someone on a blog is saying the Oregonian knows something?

    Those of you assuming all rumors to be true until proven otherwise had better hope no one thinks that if someone starts a rumor about you.

    As far as Westlund=Nader, I know for a fact that Westlund would not be stupid enough to do what Nader did and say "You Oregonians voted the wrong way on a ballot measure when I did a radio ad telling you which way to vote" (it was Death with Dignity as I recall).

    Just because Nader failed doesn't mean someone with more sense doesn't have the right to try a 3rd party campaign. Or are some people afraid of independent thought and serious policy debates?

    And unfounded accusations make me more likely, not less likely, to support someone with good ideas. So if you rumormongers are trying to scare people away from ideas with an unfounded allegation you might want to think twice.

    Does Ben even know what you are talking about? Is this a secret from all who know him but only known to the "media person" quoted above?

  • anonymous (unverified)
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    Just to firm up the discussion, Westlund declared he is running at his event this morning. There's initial coverage at the Bend tv station's web site. http://www.ktvz.com/story.cfm?nav=news&storyID=3378

  • I'm blue and a Ben supporter (unverified)
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    Well it is about time!! Go Ben go!!

    I'm one of those Dem's out there who loves Big Ben and would have no issue voting him to the Gov's office!!

    I mean the guy has:

    -The ca$h to finance his own race -Most wonks and insiders love him -He's good if not better on most issues than Teddy K
    -He can bring some unity to the State and also Minnis' iron-fist -The budget, same-sex marriage, health care he's got em beat -The unions won't be endorsing anyone (most likely) -Mannix syndromeand etc...

    He's got the friends, means, name (which will be better known later), and he's got another key point - who are the Dem’s excited about this election? I mean you think Sorenson stands a chance in hell? You think folks wanna mark that Teddy K box on their ballot and feel the pain and nausea associated with that?

    I had my money on Ben about 3 months ago and I still have it on him!

  • LT (unverified)
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    I'm thrilled that Ben is running--he and Jim can have a serious policy debate and let's see if the others join in or are too intellectually lazy.

    And to start off, let's see who first discusses Watson v. Weeks, the 9th Circuit Court decision recently about Oregon budget cuts.

    Seems there were people thrown out of nursing homes due to budget cuts and AARP filed a friend of the court brief.

    And from the radio story I heard several days ago, the nursing home people won some sort of victory.

    Let's see some discussion of that issue here.

  • Shock and Awe (unverified)
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    I am shocked!

    Let's face it though -- for Ben it is about Ben!

    The guy lost a bid to become republican leader of the senate less than a year ago and now he is somehow an independent?

    He talks about environmentalism but had a single digit voting record until last year. He is anti-choice and anti-worker.

    Give me a freakin' break! Wolf in sheeps clothing I tell you!

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    Is someone actually suggesting that the Oregonian will break a story? Years ago, I believe it was "if it matters to Oregonians, it's in the Washington Post." Now, that seems to have morphed ... every Wednesday, I'll look to Willamette Week to get the story (unless, of course, the Oregonian finds out about the breaking story, and tries to beat them to it).

    As for the merits, my guess would be it's unfounded, but perhaps that's because I tend to fall into the "allegations are worthless, fact witnesses make all the difference" camp.

  • (Show?)

    Can you say Governor Mannix?

    Okay, you political whizzes--is the bold "anonymous" correct? Does Westlund's candidacy hurt the Dems more than GOP? Hmmm...

  • LT (unverified)
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    I think Westlund and Hill make everyone (except maybe Atkinson) look like stale also-rans.

    With regard to this He talks about environmentalism but had a single digit voting record until last year. He is anti-choice and anti-worker.

    What, are we back to "score well for OCLV or you are anti-environment" which was on the Nathanson topic awhile back?

    Why is it anti-worker to be for health care for Oregonians? Or is this another scorecard issue?

    And is no one allowed to think for themselves on abortion because "pro-choice" is a misnomer and everyone must either be a member of RTL or a member of NARAL--there are no other choices?

  • anotheranonymous (unverified)
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    anonymous: Can you say Governor Mannix?

    Jeff Alworth: Okay, you political whizzes--is the bold "anonymous" correct? Does Westlund's candidacy hurt the Dems more than GOP? Hmmm...

    An entirely different anonymous coward: No. I happened to see polling data from a couple months back showing that a Westlund candidacy would hurt Mannix and the rest of the right-wingers much more than the incumbant.

  • BlueNote (unverified)
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    This could make for some good politics. Mannix the knuckle dragger on the right, Westlund in the middle, and ????? on the left.

    Who would make a better Democratic candidate if a significant number of "moderate" Dems defect to Westlund?

    Does it take a Jim Hill to fire up those of us "lefties" that remain behind, or can Governor K. do the job?

  • (Show?)

    What, are we back to "score well for OCLV or you are anti-environment" which was on the Nathanson topic awhile back?

    NOOOOOOOooooooooooo!!!!!

  • frank carper (unverified)
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    i find this article interesting about how westlund got his senate seat

    [Editor's note: link fixed.]

  • LT (unverified)
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    Link didn't work. Are you talking about how he got the appointment, or how he got both nominations in 2004?

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    A lot of this discussion is just noise, which doesn't even need a response.

    There are two core question with Westlund in the race: Can he win? and If he doesn't win, who does he hurt?

    I don't think he can win. I think there is too much core Republican and too much core Democratic support for an independent to win. I say that before we really get into the campaign season. I might be surprized by what an independent Westlund will say in a campaign.

    So, who would he hurt? He comes more from the right than the left, but he at least attempts to position himself as a pragmatic middle. That works in Central Oregon - does it work Statewide? Generally I would think that he would hurt the Republicans more than the Democrats. His core of Central Oregon support will come from the Republicans that have voted for him before, and not from the Democrats that haven't voted for him. He is not as well known outside of this region, but again, he comes from the Republican side and will be a little more warmly received there.

    In some ways it really depends who the Republican candidate is. If Mannix does a repeat, then I would think Westlund would take lots of his support away - even to the point of winning. If its Saxton, then I think the Republicans will pull more tightly around their candidate and Westlund will get less support from the right.

  • (Show?)

    If Karen Minnis is still Speaker of the House it really doesn't make any difference who's Governor. Progressive Progress in the State of Oregon is dependent on the leadership in the House.

  • Salem (unverified)
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    I am curious to see who decides to support Westlund over their own party. After spending nearly a decade in the legislature I would suspect that he has gained the support of at least some of his colleagues.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    I think Westlund is in a position to hurt both parties, but the PERS issue exposes Kulongoski broadly if he ends up getting the party nomination for the November ballot. I can envision an election ballot of Kulongoski - Saxton - Westlund. In that matchup, I see many PERS members and PERS retirees - (more than 300,000 in just members/retirees at last count still in Oregon) - not willing to vote for Kulongoski out of spite, unwilling to support Saxton for his brazen anti-PERS, anti-public employee blather, and ending up voting for Westlund. I know a boatload of public employees who are register Republicans who wouldn't vote for Saxton, never will or did vote for Kulongoski. Westlund allows them a graceful way to vote in the November election. So who loses in this scenario? While the nominations are hardly a settled proposition, I think that Westlund will harm the Dems slightly more than he will harm the Repubs, unless Kulongoski doesn't get the nomination. In that case, I think Westlund harms the Repubs more.

    My 2 sheckels for today.

  • Lucon (unverified)
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    Rumor has it that Westlund will be on the Thom Hartman show tomorrow morning at 8AM. It will be very interesting to see what issues he addresses and to hear how he responds to questions now that he is a candidate.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Most people don't think in terms of strategy. They think of Westlund as "Hey! Is that the guy who survived cancer who someone told me about?". Or they like that TV picture where Ben had his kids with him. Or they like his blunt "tax policy in this state is stupid".

    I loved that line about being an "equal opportunity basher" and refusing to say anything mean about Kulongoski.

    Believe it or not, there are people who long for cheerful candidates and are more willing to vote for a candidate who can make a friend/ supporter break out in a wide grin when the politician's name is mentioned.

    FWIW, Kulongoski had that wide grin thing going for him in 2002 and doesn't now. Jim Hill may well have it from old friends or young people (like a young couple I knew in 2002 who said "he's cool"). Atkinson may have that among supporters. My guess is that Mannix and Saxton don't have it.

    We are in uncharted territory, folks, and this year could end up like Minn. the year Jesse Ventura was elected. In this case the Independent has more experience--former Ways and Means chair (one of the best in recent memory).

    So don't try to figure out which groups will support whom, and admit that this will be an individual decision.

  • verasoie (unverified)
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    The association with the Republicans is a deadly one for Westlund, anti-Republican sentiment is so high amongst Democrats (because of disgust at the national level) that there's no way Westlund draws more votes from the Dems than Repubs.

    This way, even all the Repubs disgusted with the national party have a choice without having to vote D.

    My predictions: Westlund 15%, Mannix 40%, Kulongoski 45%

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)
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    As a middle of the road Dem...I'll be very interested in what Westlund has to say over the next year. Prior to Ben joining the fray, I was going to sit this on out and limit my time and energy to legislative races out here in East county. Depending on what I hear, I still may do that, but atleast now there is a reason to pay attention to the Guvs race.

    Fearless47...I can't believe it! We are pretty close in agreement!That was some pretty good analysis on your part.

    LT my friend....I am not anti public employee union. In fact I think the public employee unions play a vital role in this state. I am vehemently anti PERS for the simple reason that it's a fiscally irresponsible cancer to the well being of social and educational programs in Oregon. Unfortunately there are many public employees who feel that if someone is against PERS then they are automatically against all public employees and their unions. I think it's safe to say that most taxpayers feel as I do.....kill PERS but nurture state and local government's relationships with the unions.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Unfortunately there are many public employees who feel that if someone is against PERS then they are automatically against all public employees and their unions. I think it's safe to say that most taxpayers feel as I do.....kill PERS but nurture state and local government's relationships with the unions.

    Charlie, glad to see you can write reasonably and not just sarcastically.

    The "kill PERS" people need to be more specific if they want to win public support--if the public agreed with you, why didn't the PERS = ENRON commercials win the nomination for Saxton? Is the mess PERS is in the responsibility of the PERS board or the responsibility of retirees? Was every secretary, accountant, lawyer and computer person covered by PERS supposed to follow all those issues closely? Is the PERS Board not responsible for their own actions?

    Saxton's "lay off all the public employees and then rehire them without PERS" went over like a lead balloon.

    What would you suggest, given the court decisions against breaking public employee contracts? Where does Westlund stand on PERS? Given that someone above called him anti-worker, can he be called pro-union if he thinks there has to be a more intelligent, well thought out solution than "kill PERS"?

    One more thing, Charlie. If you could go back to the early 1980s, would you say "sorry public employees, we can't give you a raise because of the recession, we aren't going to do anything to sweeten your retirement, and if you don't like that you can work elsewhere"? No one seems to want to talk about decisions made about PERS back then, although I don't know why.

    What bothers people like me is the attitude by those like Saxton that the public employees themselves are to blame for the mess PERS is in, therefore we shouldn't hold legislators or the PERS Board responsible (some imply that because legislators and the PERS Board are not union members, they are more trustworthy).

    Did you support the PERS bill that passed the 2003 session, or did you favor a different proposal? Or does being anti-PERS solve the problem?

  • (Show?)

    "His core of Central Oregon support will come from the Republicans that have voted for him before, and not from the Democrats that haven't voted for him."

    Considering Ben won his seat in the senate with both the R & D nominations (over 1000 D's wrote him in on their primary) and he received 82% of the vote, I'd say lots of Democrats felt well represented. Ben puts the needs of the people in his district before the priorities of the party.

    Yes, he's had "bad" scorecards from progressive groups in the past, but as a D constituent of Ben's for years, I've seen a real change in him since his cancer experience. He's gotten more progressive and is always willing to listen to those with differing viewpoints. He's open-minded and has been known to change his mind when presented with new information.

    He gets along with people on both sides of the aisle and works hard everyday to solve the problems facing our state. He's compassionate, caring and concerned with our future. He's inspiring to people who are tired of ideology dictating policy.

    And yes Lucon- he is on Hartmann tomorrow at 8am.

    Check out the video on why he's running and watch his other speeches.

    Disclaimer: Proud Westlund for Governor staffer and newly registered independent voter!

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    I heard the interview with Westlund this on Hartman this morning. I was impressed, but would like to hear more. The fact that he voted in favor of SB 1000 is a real plus. A handful of Republicans broke ranks to do this in the Oregon Senate and even more in the House would have done so if Minnis had not blocked it.

    This says a few things to me:

    1) The man has guts and votes with his conscience. 2) The man believes in equal rights and opportunities for all citizens of this state. 3) He is not lock step with his ever far reaching far right party. 4) He has courage and conviction.

    I don't care if he had an (R) in front of his name. I would never vote for a Republican, because I find it akin to a Jew voting for a Nazi, but when someone breaks ranks like this, it is admirable and worthy of positive attention.

  • I'm blue & a Ben supporter (unverified)
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    I'm with Stacey! I'm a life-long Democrat here and more than willing to embrace Ben these days than say a few years ago. This guy really has had a change in the past 2 years since beating cancer. I mean the light-bulb really did go off in his head. (Now if we can just get him to quit chewing gum every second of the day). And if you have been around him or seen the work he's been doing down in Salem and in committees and across the aisles then you would have seen the change too. Sure, there will be a group of Democrats that would never vote for an "ex-Republican" but this man really is an Independent these days. Quick question: How many folks out in this audience are Kucinich supporters or fans at least? Remember when this guy was only pro-life? Well one day he changed and he was embraced not scolded for past views but welcomed for the one's he had now. I just didn't like the comment said earlier about a "wolf in sheep's clothing" cause this person obviously knows nothing about Ben on a personal level or as a legislator.

    Personally, I see him getting more than the 15% someone predicted earlier? This guy has had a strong support of both D's & R's in his own district. And I got a feeling that there's gonna be groups out there that are gonna throw their support/endorsements at Ben over the usual Teddy-K who probably won't even get a labor endorsement. Now I'm blabbin' again. Really the only point I wanted to get out of my mouth was that I like Ben. Sure he needs to tone down the "d!ck & [email protected]" jokes on stage but he's a good person, an excellent candidate, he'll help spark some much needed debate in this state and he's got a better shot than you think.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)
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    I have a really basic technical question: the O. says signers to get Westlund on the ballot cannot vote in the May primary. Does that mean that only people who are not registered D or R can sign his petition, or is it just that you have to pinky-swear you won't go and vote in the primary? I assume it is the former, but the article wasn't clear.

    I am a staunch Democrat but I am an Oregonian first. When it comes to the mess in Salem, all party loyalties aside, we the people need help and I don't care what label it comes under.

    I have always admired Westlund -- he has stepped up on tax reform, health care, civil rights for gays. That, to me, means he deserves a close look. I want to find out more about his voting record, his personal beliefs and his plans for Oregon; and I want to hear him in person (bummed I missed Thom H. this morning).

    I have no idea how this will play out--at this point it's all sheer speculation-but I do know that I despise Teddy K. and sure don't want any of the R's to win and I know we need someone with guts AND the right priorities in Gov's office. I'll give Westlund a close look.

  • Lauren (unverified)
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    Stacey, Ben ran unopposed for the Senate, so it's not surprising that some D's wrote him in. By that logic, any Portland D who ran unopposed should be a lock on any statewide office.

    Here's my question, where does he get the money? You can't run a competitive campaign without money. Traditional D donors aren't going to jump ship, he holds no appeal for traditional R donors, and moderate R donors have Saxton to give to.

  • There's Moeny in Heffers (unverified)
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    Lauren,

    From what I jave heard, Ben has enough of his own money to get his campaign off the ground and running - I guess it all depends how much of his own cash he's willing to part with but the man's pockets are lined deep with bull-semen (i'm not kidding) cash.

  • anonymous (unverified)
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    I just heard that Kulongoski's campaign - in the spirited of open debate and discource - have recommended the service of Ted Blaszak and Democracy Resources to help get Ben on the ballot!

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    Ben has two challenges against him:

    1) He is getting in the race a bit late and

    2) He is an independant.

    Two positives:

    1) He is an independant.

    2) Oregonians seem to love the underdog.

    I will give the man the benefit-of-the-doubt.

  • carrieann (unverified)
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    In 2003, my own impression of the Senator was that after fighting off lung cancer, he came back to the legislature with a real sense of the mission. He had 'seen the mountain' and was wasn't fooling around about 'doing the work of the people'.

    For starters, he made no bones about the fact that he was fortunate to have been able to afford real health insurance... It provided the health care that saved his life - and he wondered aloud about all those Oregonians who were not as lucky.

    We still have far too many people hurting in this state, so I'm glad to see Westlund in this race, if only because he will bring real energy, experience, compassion -and a voice that doesn't require a microphone- to the debate, particularly when it comes to health care. And frankly, many of 'his' issues still exist because we have lacked the leadership and political courage to deal with them first.

    But whether he's a threat is not just simple partisan issue over the Governor's seat - it reflects real concern over the balance of power in the House.

    Best-case scenario: Dems take control of the House, and then it won't matter nearly as much who moves into Mahonia Hall. (Though truth be told, a Mannix win would be sooooo disturbing...)

    Worst-case scenario: Speaker Minnis. And more of the same bs.

    The coming months will be very interesting... Will PERS and illegal immigrants drive the debate -or- will we finally get to have substantive debate on substantive Oregon issues? Will the Gov. find his own voice, and start walking and talking like a real leader? And who are all those NAVs out there? Sure, there are a lot of R's, and even non-voters, in that mix, but every single independent I know is former Dem looking for a guiding light. More worrisome, so are a lot of the registered Dems...

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    As I was telling some Dems yesterday, I had the chance to have lunch with Ben and Rob Brading during the Bus Project's Rebooting Democracy.

    I was very impressed with Ben. He had a lot to say and you could tell he really cares about Oregon and Oregonians.

    A lot of the focus that day was on two topics-- was he going to switch to an independent and run for governor (and why/why not) and health care.

    It's really too bad we didn't have the conversation recorded-- in all my years of working with politicians, it was one of the most honest discussions I've ever heard.

    Before going to the conference, I had no idea what to think of Ben. Now I really respect him and hope he can indeed make some changes in this state.

    As far as voting for him, I don't know yet. I'm still undecided for the general election. I do know that my two current favorites in the race are Pete Sorenson and Ben Westlund. And I know that I am not voting for Kulongoski in the primary.

  • Larry (unverified)
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    "I would never vote for a Republican, because I find it akin to a Jew voting for a Nazi"

    Oh Geez....

  • TrueBlue (unverified)
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    "I would never vote for a Republican, because I find it akin to a Jew voting for a Nazi"

    dmrusso, this is a most contemptable thing to say about anybody at anytime. Disgusting. TRULY DISGUSTING.

    True Blue, and against my own party's haters.

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    -Larry,

    Did you ever read M9? It would legally call Gays and Lesbians "mentally ill" and force us into mental hospitals. Have you ever read the Republican bylaws? Is there any Republican that can be elected without the Christian Right vote? Hardly!

    Are you gay, Larry? Can you speak for gays and lesbians? Have you suffered from discrimination since your birth that dictatated that you were less than human? I suspect NOT. I suspect that you don't even know the meaning of the concept, "Structural Violence" whereby minorities are treated as lesser citizens consistantly, and denied the full rights that the rest enjoy.

    How might you react if you were so threatened?

    Republicans are NAZIS and should be treated as such. Until they break from the Christian Right, stand on their own two feet and apologize for the wrongs that they have done to gays and lesbians, to ME, there will be no forgiveness.

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    -TrueBlue,

    Again, are you gay TrueBlue? Are you a part of a threatened minority? I think NOT!

    Take some college courses, get educated and figure it out.

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    The problem with allowing Republicans leeway is that they gain power by trambling on the rights of others. Vote for them, and you vote for structural violence and self-interest.

    I have heard a lot of justification for voting Republican. I am sure that Germans heard a lot of justification for voting for the Nazis too. They will improve the economy. Who cares about the jews? I need more money. They will make us stronger internationally and return pride to our nation... but at what cost?

    It hurts me when there are so many apologists around, but I am not suprised. America is a selfish, largely uneducated nation.

  • True Blue (unverified)
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    dmrusso, i can only pity you. you truly have a poisoned soul. we all need help sometimes. get some. don't worry so much about the ones that vote, as a good friend told me, but worry about the ones that don't. here are the republican bylaws, so which would you like to lean on for support of your loathesome behavior?

    http://www.orgop.org/about/bylaws.htm

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    -TrueBlue,

    A poisoned soul? Who are you to judge my soul? What right do you have to do that?

    I have a right to my opinon. You attacked me. I did not attack you. I attacked an ideology.

    But, now the gloves are off you inhuman piece of crap.

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    Which party is the party of "family values"? Which party tried to passed the Federal Marriage Amendement? Which party more than largely supported, M9, M13, and M36?

    If you are not gay, you have no right to judge my feelings whatsoever. You only have the right to listen and hopefully understand. I do not speak for African-Americans or Latinos. I speak for myself and those that have been threatened by this party.

    Read a history book and get back to me.

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    Ruth,

    If you vote in the primary (for any race), your signature on a Westlund petition will be disallowed. You don't pinky swear (nice phrase though!)--the County checks your name.

    Of course, since they do only a random sample, perhaps it's a risk worth taking.

    I'm very frustrated that the Legislature has seen fit to force voters tomake this choice. For my part, there are no competitive primaries in my district, and while I've never voted for anyone other than a Democrat (unlike LT, I am a party line voter), I may skip the primary just to sign for Westlund.

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    Check the RNC website under "Protecting marriage".

  • Winston Wolfe (unverified)
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    You know what I love about Blogs.....The amount of baseless bull-shti on them.

  • Well Karen (unverified)
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    Karen: Last Septemeber, I think, you said the next time some hard left idiot called the Republicans "Nazis", that you were going to switch parties. Where should I send your new card for your autograph? or is only a heterosexual female, aged 35-40, born in December, of French heritage, between 5'10" and 6'with blue eyes and a law degree allowed to judge you? WINK WINK !! Love, ME

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    Since TrueBlue took us here, by denying the right to "speak truth to power"...

    http://www.rense.com/general37/fascism.htm

    I am sure that many on here have read these, but this is for the apologists.

  • True Purple? (unverified)
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    I can only assume something has happened recently. I'm so sorry Devin. We want this Devin back:

    Posted by: Devin Russo | Sep 16, 2005 3:53:25 PM

    I think that there are plenty of Republicans, who may not agree with me or any other liberals concerning taxes or social programs or even education, but many of these same Republicans want fair treatment for all tax paying citizens of our state. That is common ground and that is what Minnis destroyed in the last session.

  • RuthAdkins (unverified)
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    Paul, Thanks for answering my question. I am still confused about the timing of the process, though. If Westlund starts gathering sigs now, does that mean that any signers have to remember not to vote in the primary, and at what point would their sigs be disallowed.

    sorry to be so clueless....

  • Robert Harris (unverified)
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    At least one good thing about signing Westlund for Goernor petition. When I get those calls or visits from a D's or R's over the next four months. Or when I get a solicitaiton for some donation or endorsement, I can just tell them that I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to participate in this primary. Maybe you can call Rep's Nolan or Kitts and they can help you out.

  • Mike Selvaggio (unverified)
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    Ruth -

    To answer your question about petition signing... If at any time a D or R returns a ballot in a primary election, their support cannot count towards the independent petition total. This is regardless of whether you signed before or after the primary election. (Independent candidates cannot turn in signatures until after the primary now.)

    Independents, of course, can vote in the primary election and also sign the petition. (So long as they steer clear of 3rd-party nominating conventions and other independent petitions for the same office.)

    A good explanation can be found in the 2006 Candidates Manual, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Secretary of State.

  • dmrusso (unverified)
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    -True Purple?

    I think that everyone has a right to be angry from time to time, even passionately so. That is, in fact, one of the things that makes us human.

    When we are personally attacked or hurt, we react accordingly.

    One of the things that makes all of us human is the great breadth of emotion that we have at our disposal. My truth is my own. Unless someone is in my shoes, they really have no right to tell me that my truth is wrong, only that they do not agree with it or that is is not true for them for one reason or another.

    So my apologies for bitting back, but, but no apologies for being human.

  • redsurfer (unverified)
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    What is most interesting to me is that none of the Republican blogs I regulary check (Gullyborg, Sailor, Eugene Underground, or NW Republican) mention the Westlund issue.

    Kremer mentions it, but only two comments.

    So do the R's not care, not know, or simply find it not newsworthy?

    As a former R, then an I (NAV if you will), then a D I find Westlund just right. Most importantly, he will bring the excitement level up and maybe bring out some of the voters who will be turned off by ted v kev and get some movement happening in the House (Clem, Edwards, Cowan, Brading etc)

    Thats the key. It should the the root of all our moves.

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    Activist Kaza says: And if anybody's interested in signing his petition in a few months, remember that you have to sit out the primary vote for Governor to do so (thanks to Mary Nolan, Derrick Kitts & friends)!

    Activist Kaza is not correct. In order to sign the Westlund petition, you have to sit out the entire primary, including all candidates and all ballot measures.

    Good examination of HB 2614 is at http://www.blueoregon.com/2006/01/independents_on.html

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    Paul says: If you vote in the primary (for any race), your signature on a Westlund petition will be disallowed. You don't pinky swear (nice phrase though!)--the County checks your name. Of course, since they do only a random sample, perhaps it's a risk worth taking.

    Paul is not correct. The counties do not sample signatures on nominating petitions. They check every single signature.

    Even if sampling were allowed, if you sign a petition when not authorized to do so, and your signature is selected in the sample, you cost your candidate a lot more than one signature. If the sample is 1%, for example, you cost your candidate 100 signatures. So it is never a good idea to sign a petition you know you are not authorized to sign.

    But, as noted above, nominating petition signatures are not sampled.

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    If the sample is 1%, for example, you cost your candidate 100 signatures.

    My favorite thing is how the media always refers to this sampling stuff as a "complicated formula." Basic math, people.

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    But, say you sign a statewide petition twice, and both are found in the 5% sample. Then your petition loses 400 signatures, because the probability of finding such a duplicate is thought to be 1/20 times 1/20. So the math is not always simple.

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    Dan,

    Thanks for the correction. It's very important that people here understand how this works, since in many ways we are the "informed elites" that explain stuff to our wider circle of friends and neighbors.

    I was basing my assumption on the recent stories on the initiative. Any idea why they sample in that circumstance but not on a candidate nominating petition?

    You should come give a talk at Reed sometime. Drop me an email.

  • Alice (unverified)
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    How do I apply for membership to the Informed Elite Club? Would they send me someplace special? It sounds like the kind of club I would enjoy. Do I have to get a PhD first, or will a Harvard MBA work?

    It's not elitist, is it?

  • Russ (unverified)
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    Given that the most steadfast Oregon Republicans these days tend to skew conservative, I am afraid that Ben might attract enough votes from Democratic-leaning independents to throw the race to the Republican nominee.

    I don't think we can afford that.

    But then again, if he can keep some libertarian-minded central Oregon voters from the Republican column, that would be a good thing.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Is this about labels or about human beings?

    As someone who was involved, I know that Jim Hill did not become not only the first black man but the first Democrat ever elected in House District 31 (S. Salem area) in the early 1980s because he was a black Democrat, but because he's Jim Hill.

    Also, people I know who might not have given the theory of independent statewide officials much thought are impressed with Ben Westlund because he is Ben.

    My guess is that the success this year of Hill and or Westlund will be a measure of them as people, just as there are those who support / oppose Kulongoski based on whether he was the guy they thought they were voting for--does he impress voters as a person?

    If Saxton, Mannix or Kulongoski sound like they are repeating what they said in 2002, will that impress people or provide an opening for Atkinson, Hill, Westlund?

    I know there is no statistical data on that, but then I think people vote, not statistics.

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