Initial Election Reactions

Jeff Alworth

Election results are in.  In a mostly unsurprising election, one of the most surprising results was how few people actually cared.  A statewide malaise has settled like dark clouds--Washington's scandals, incompetence, and assorted nightmares may be to blame (they seem to have damped the mood around my house, anyway).  But really, 32%?  That's pretty amazing given some pretty big stakes. 

As time wears on, we'll sift through the results and find larger themes, but there were some initial winners and losers that jumped out.

Winner: Incumbents
Leaving aside Diane Linn, whose ouster was a personal rebuke, incumbents did extremely well.  Ted Kulongoski, supposedly gasping has last breath, steamed to an easy win.  Jim Hill's campaign didn't convince the moderates to shift from Ted, and the progressives had Pete Sorenson. 

In City Council races, Dan Saltzman didn't even break a sweat beating Amanda Fritz, and at this writing, Erik Sten appears to be holding off Ginny Burdick. 

Loser: Unions
Unions flexed their muscles in a couple races and both fell flat.  In the Governor's race, unions abandoned Ted for Jim Hill (some just abandoned him); in the House 46th District, unions lined up for one of their own in Mary Botkin, but she finished a distant third with just 12% of the vote.  Unions have increasingly seen their endorsements fall on deaf ears, but these were especially anemic endorsement dividends.

Winner: State GOP
For once, Republicans can eye November knowing they've got a moderate who has a very good chance of winning--particularly with Ben Westlund in the race.  Ron Saxton tacked far right in the primary, and that may come back to bite him, but it was his credibility that won the day.  Republicans are clearly tired of losing Mahonia Hall, and Saxton's a better bet than Kevin Mannix, who has yet to win a statewide race.

Loser: Loren Parks
What did he spend on Kevin Mannix's 30%--$400,000?  You think he awoke this morning wondering if he could have found a better way to spend the money?  Like using it to light his barbeque?

Winner and Loser: Jesse Cornett
Jesse trails Rod Monroe by a measly 176 votes, and that's a crushing blow.  I'm biased as hell, but Jesse was a far better candidate, a potential legislator who might have brought some bridge-building and innovation to Salem.  Thanks to last minute shenanigans by his opponent, Rod Monroe, he had little time to build up support, yet he spent his days knocking on doors and trying to build a campaign the right way.  He ran a great race and earned my kudos and respect.  Let's hope this isn't the last time his name appears on a ballot.

Loser: Anyone I Give Money To

Hey Loren, I feel your pain (a tiny, tiny fraction of it, anyway).  I have now made political donations to Dennis Kucinich, John Kerry, and Jesse Cornett.  To future candidates who may be wanting to hit me up for dough: okay, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Now, on to November!

  • TK (unverified)

    Betcha a ten-spot that Saxton suddenly turns moderate in the coming months. Betcha a twenty it doesn't work for him.

    Given that Saxton changes his stripes and doesn't bother to get into the detail of those stripes, Kulo has the edge. Dems aren't going to vote for Saxton, even if they wish they had another choice in there. And I'll bet 10-20% of all republicans vote for Kulo too, simply because he's not objectionable from their point of view, and well, he's an incumbant in a down year for the GOP.

    But the wildcard is Westlund. Folks, he's this year's Nader/Perot. Don't throw your vote away on a good guy, only to find you helped Saxton, the least favorable, win. Plus, do we know Westlund has given up the GOP for good or was this just a way to get a free pass until November? Maybe folks need to be reminded of his roots so that he pulls more from Saxton than Kulo...

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    According to Russell's last piece here, Parks' outlay to Mannix was more like $600,000. To put it in context, that's almost 500,000 meals at Sisters of the Road, that this guy spent to help end Mannix's political career.

    Hmmm...maybe in the end it WAS money well spent!

  • John Mulvey (unverified)

    Loser: Local Color

    Beyond the anemic turnout numbers, another indication of the cynicism of the current electorate is the dearth of oddball candidates. Couldn't Extremo the Clown have made another run at something? Since the guys from Voodoo Doughnut dropped out, this ones been a clunker. To the extent that unique fringe candidates are an economic indicator, this doesn't bode well for us.

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    John, there WAS Gordon Leitch, GOP candidate for goobernor, who tried to pay his filing fee in $20 gold coins. When that didn't work, he used 1,000 silver dollars. I think advocating a return to the metals standard of currency qualifies as wack-jobby...

  • Duke Shepard (unverified)

    It's fascinating that the premier progressive blog has a large faction of folks who seem intent on slamming unions (full information: I work for the AFL-CIO). Your analysis is a massive oversimplification.
    If you ask the Building Trades Unions (Electricians, Plumbers, and the like), the Teamsters, UFCW, and many other unions, last night was a BIG win because they backed Ted Kulongoski with money and people. In fact, only a few unions endorsed or made any effort for Jim Hill. Likewise, Labor was split - despite Mary Botkin’s long history - on the HD 46 race. The Oregon Nurses Association supported Hennrich (an ONA member); SEIU supported Cannon. Yep, the candidate we liked for Supreme Court lost. Yet Labor Commissioner, Dan Gardner, a union member, didn't even draw opposition. Nearly every union in Portland supported Erik Sten. Ask Erik if that made a difference in his race. While I saw on this blog earlier that OLCV was being rightly credited with big contributions to local victories in the Salem City Council and Lane County Commissioner races, OLCV wasn't alone. Labor was in those races too. In Lane County, volunteers made thousands of calls to union members during the last three weeks to beat Anna Morrison.
    Finally, since this blog is increasingly the place where elite liberals come to bash or dismiss unions, let me ask this: Who put Bill Sizemore out of business? Who defeats most of the bad ballot measures? Who's going to stop the destructive TABOR initiative this fall? Who banned signature gathering by the hour? Who raised the minimum wage - twice - in the last ten years? Who dragged Kulongoski across the finish line (and saved all your butts from Mannix) in 2002? Unions, that's who.
    If you don’t like unions, fine, don’t join one. But let’s not act like progressives have achieved many victories without unions. Unions aren't perfect. No, unions don't win every time, and we don’t always pick the right battles; neither does the conservation/environmental community, choice, or GLBT rights groups – all of which I support and contribute to, by the way.
    Yet the Blue Oregon crowd doesn't seem to be chomping at the bit to throw dirt on their graves like you do unions. BTW Jeff, why no mention of the vaunted, relentlessly self important Bus Project? I worked on Jesse's campaign, I didn't see that Bus anywhere. Did reality catch up to the propaganda?

  • Kim (unverified)

    Not fair Duke. The Bus Project doesn't get involved in Democratic primaries - but lots of people from the bus are friends with Jesse and helped on his campaign.

    You're totally on about unions and I agree w/you 100% - but you're out of line about the bus.

  • Zolton (unverified)

    how could 5,393 people vote for Emily Boyles. who are these people?

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    "If you don’t like unions, fine, don’t join one."

    If only that were possible, in many cases. Paying "fair share" dues means you might as well join...a Hobson's choice if you'd rather not be in one.

    And what's this I hear about unions perhaps planning to back Billy Dalto? Pennywise, pound something...

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    And what's this I hear about unions perhaps planning to back Billy Dalto? Pennywise, pound something...

    Joe, you're two years late on that story. A few unions backed him last time. Don't expect that this time. Brian Clem is a rockstar candidate.

  • MarkDaMan (unverified)

    "only a few unions endorsed or made any effort for Jim Hill"

    It just happens that my former union SEIU was one of those that backed Hill. Not only did they back Hill, but they shamefully donated $90,000 just a few weeks ago in a last ditch attempt to make this guy viable. With that $90,000 of union funds, Hill was able to put on that annoying commercial with the kid listening to the I-POD singing about a new sales tax and other BS, a not so veiled attempt at slamming Kulo.

    While I drink in the Kulo leading up to that November election day, I throw my support, and former union dues to a real winner. Maybe SEIU will ride off with Jim Hill into the sunset. They paid enough for the free ride!

  • John Mulvey (unverified)

    Gordon Leitch was great! The gold coins were worth a ton more than their face value... he was certainly a man of principle, and I hope he has a long career. The state should take his money next time.

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    I agree with Duke here -- the "unions" got involved in lots of races (with money and people power) and were sometimes on both sides of the same race.

    Suggesting that they lost (or won) is picking evidence selectively.

  • TK (unverified)

    Amen to Duke's comments (except the Bus project)... The unions don't mobilize fully for primaries anyway, where multiple Dem candidates could be good Union endorsements on their own.

    It's almost as if the word 'union' has been saddled with as much baggage as the word 'liberal'. But I refuse to credit the GOP echo chamber for that one...

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    I heard the Dalto thing again last night, Kari. Sad but true...

  • Duke Shepard (unverified)

    TorridJoe: Most of the workforce isn't organized. You have lots of choices as to where you work. And fairshare exists because you get all the wages and benefits bargained by the union. Unions are established - or disbanded - by a vote of the workers. Both happen. You want change in your union, line up the votes. It's democracy and it takes hard work - but you have a choice every day.
    The Oregon AFL-CIO endorsed Brian Clem in March. By the way, if you read my whole post, I didn't say we always pick the right battles nor did I claim perfection. I'm just fed up with liberals bashing unions and gleefully pronouncing them dead; we've already got the right wing trying to eliminate them. Progressives better figure out that if the right wing gets their way and effectively outlaws unions and their political activities, all progressives will lose a lot more often.

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    In the discussion of November, the big question for me will be how the national mood affects Oregon. Will Republicans stay home in disgust? Will Democrats turn out more? The best mail piece in the primary by anyone that I got at home was the one from Kulongoski with Bush's face on the cover. Ted positioned himself as running against Bush. This morning I heard the same theme when he was on KPOJ. It may help pull Dems together as well as depress Saxton's vote. Good move. Will Ted push Saxton to say whether he is a Bush supporter? Could be fun to hear the answer.

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    Good seeing you last night at Jesse's. As much as I want to see Saxton go down, don't count on a low R turnout in November. They've been out of the Governor's mansion for 20 years and sense blood in the water with Ted. I think they've got a lot of intensity on their side plus a fetus empowerment ballot measure guaranteed to motivate the crazies to turn out in the fall.

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    Duke and Kari,

    Happy to be declared wrong on this one, but I don't think you've made a great case here. Ted is the ultimate union guy, and unions punished him this year for PERS. The union rebuke helped neither Jim Hill nor appeared to hurt Ted. I don't know that Mary Botkin was poised to win D46, but surely union support should have given her something beyond 12% of the vote.

    Just to be clear, I've been a union member for 9 years and am a union rep in AAUP. I am ALL for the unions. This isn't bashing, it's observing. Unions have a strong role to play in Democratic Party politics, but based on those two races, it doesn't look like endorsements may be the role.

    (Also, we're talking politics here, not activities. When unions make a baldly political move like endorsing a candidate, they can be held accountable for the political fallout of loss.)

    BTW Jeff, why no mention of the vaunted, relentlessly self important Bus Project? I worked on Jesse's campaign, I didn't see that Bus anywhere.

    I'm a donor to the Bus and a big fan, but I'm not currently active in their activities, so I can't speak for them. But on the whole, I'd say the Bus had a pretty good night.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    Hey Progressives....

    Duke seems to think you are all confused about who yer Daddy really is.

    Go ahead and reassure him.

    Young progressives may act out in frustration, but deep down they love their Daddy.

    They have to.

  • TK (unverified)

    I think the "blood in the water" meme for Kulo has been overstated by the media and others... last night's results sort of confirmed that

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    Charlie--wouldn't the crazies be most motivated to vote for Mannix? That didn't turn out well. Ironically though, the more a national Dem wave threatens to turn the US Congress inside out, the more it could tighten a previously easy win for Greg Walden. If Voisin makes a race out of it for whatever reason, that could motivate a lot of ruralites to come out and save him. But in sum, the nuts are usually the most reliable primary votes, and they don't seem to have come out strong on the right. The general brings more moderates and less-involved people out, which (again, ironically IMO) could hurt Saxton a little. I agree OR GOPers want a win badly. Just as national Dems thought they could make the nut by finding an "electable" guy in Kerry, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Republicans latch onto Ben Westlund as the best way to recapture the office. Of course, all that does is help Ted, but to a Republican, what do they have to lose? Another lost election, is all.

    Duke--I know why fairshare exists. I'm simply pointing out that it's a false choice: pay and be a member, or pay and don't. If I had the chance to opt out and negotiate my own benefits, I probably would have. And as for having lots of choices where to work, I had already chosen where to work when my position was unionized.

  • jami (unverified)

    my vote was the kiss of death for every candidate but sten. i'm just too liberal for oregon, i guess.

  • Sid (unverified)

    If Westlund makes the ballot he'll pull votes from Kulo, not Saxton. What K's campaign has to do is vividly demonstrate all of Saxton's flip-flops, because, no doubt, he'll shift back to the center, but only in the Portland advertising market. He'll run two sets of ads the way Gordon Smith did: one for the Portland market (I'm a moderate!) and one for the rural market (I'm a conservative!). If K's campaign managers fail to point this out to voters, Dems will lose. They should point it out to voters in Portland and in the rural areas, so that they see the hypocrisy. Conservative rural voters might feel disenchanted and not vote at all and moderates in Portland will come to their senses.

    Re: Jesse... that was the big surprise. I thought for sure he would win. Next time.

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    Sid, what's the evidence that Westlund will pull from Kulo? I keep hearing it, but the only poll I've seen pitting the three doesn't bear that out. I definitely agree that Ted needs to monitor how Saxton presents himself in Portland/not Portland, though.

  • CityHallVet (unverified)

    Shame on the Bus Project for not putting volunteer feet on the street for Jesse. They want to stay out of a race between one of their founders and Rod Monroe? That is ridiculous. Jesse appears to have lost by 176 votes. Bus volunteers could have made the difference. For the next 4 years, Monroe will hurt the Bus project and their members on each and every single one of their issues.

    Politics is about winning and gaining power not just about encouraging public service or holding a meaningless dialogue. Grow up and get real!

  • TK (unverified)

    Maybe the Bus Project isn't supposed to be a PAC... maybe (judging by the low turnout rate) their role is to simply encourage public service and voter participation... not just one candidate.

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    Bicyclists were winners last night, too, with 6 of 7 races going to Bike Walk Vote PAC-endorsed candidate (granted, two dual-endorsements). Granted, mostly favorites: Wheeler, Sten, Saltzman, Cogen, Kotek, Cannon.

    If only Jesse Cornett is able to push through through ballots found in loose corners, Bike Walk Vote will have 7 of 7.

    Bicyclists vote a lot (including in primaries), and bike-friendly candidates are winning. Beyond the endorsements, we're seeing candidates organize bike rides, carry lawn signs on bikes, and so forth.

  • MarkDaMan (unverified)

    "I'm just fed up with liberals bashing unions and gleefully pronouncing them dead; we've already got the right wing trying to eliminate them. Progressives better figure out that if the right wing gets their way and effectively outlaws unions and their political activities, all progressives will lose a lot more often."

    Duke, as I explained in an e-mail to SEIU president Joe DiNicola, I'm liberal but that doesn't mean union support is a given. In fact, I believe unions have become so comfortable with their liberal support that their mission and current form dooms them to failure in a 21st century world. I tend to think my young and liberal generation, people who are just now finding their way in this world, expect more out of their unions. I believe that unity in the workplace is important. I think having a due process in the workplace is important too. However, even more important than unity or process is the building of a community.

    Today unions no longer build communities, they use their 'influence' to build power. Once union's realize their strength is in the power of a unified voice, not that power creates a unified voice, my generation might see the need in supporting and joining unions. Otherwise, I'm afraid we will only continue to see a weakening of unions in America, not the weakening of liberals.

  • Christy (unverified)

    Whoa there!!!!! I understand you're upset that Jesse lost, as we all are, but the Bus project does not take sides in democratic primaries, and for good reason.

    Grow up and get real? How about you calm down have a drink?

  • CityHallVet (unverified)

    yes, I'll say it again. Grow up, get real or get out. You can't be a force in politics without taking sides. Period! Encourage voter turnout and public service? You are 0-2!

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    Charlie, I agree Governor Kulongoski has to go after Saxton's flippy-floppy statements he makes depending on the audience he's pandering to at the moment. I also agree with a previous poster that Westlund is the Ralph Nader of the governor's race. Saxton's red plaid shirt and jeans commercial was played ad nauseum in Southern Oregon. Smart stategy for Kulongoski to run against Bush with his campaign literature and ads. I'm sure Dem candidates all over the country are using a similar stategy. Folks are just sick about what's happening in their own country. Now let's keep Ted our Governor, elect Rob Brading and get all the good legislation Minnis bottled up passed. Jesse don't give up, we need you in Salem!

  • Coastdemo (unverified)

    Torridjoe: Not evidence - but anectdote, I am a lifelong democrat - have never voted for a Republican in my life - and I will consider voting for Westlund in November. The lack of leadership, vision, planning and policy in Mahonia Hall the last 4 years is not only appalling - but infuriating. I know others share my view.

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    But what do you gain by voting for Westlund? How does moving the goobernor's office to the right make any sense? How does passing up the opportunity for a unity government in OR make any sense? To the GOP, Westlund as guv will either be a pariah or a helpmate. Neither of those scenarios redounds well to the Democrats, IMO.

  • LT (unverified)

    As someone who was at Brian Clem's party last night, I don't think it is about rumors. It is about who is endorsed.

    Dalto is a clown, just as the city council member ousted last night by a newcomer is a clown. That city council race was decided by volunteers and small contributions. Who says that can't also work in legislative races? When ordinary voters in the district question whether they want to re-elect an incumbent, no amount of money alone can change that.

    I think Botkin lost because she is Mary Botkin, and maybe voters just wanted a fresh face. unions lined up for one of their own in Mary Botkin, but she finished a distant third with just 12% of the vote. That makes 2 elections (DNC being the other one) which Mary Botkin has lost since I started reading Blue Oregon.

    Is Jesse in recount territory? If so, start lining up the recount observers and checking out the rules. Tough to be in a recount, but recount observers are an important part of that--I was one once.

  • Coastdemo (unverified)

    What do we get if we vote for Westlund? Well lets see:

    Westlund's platform on Health Care - "I have cosponsored a bipartisan amendment to the Oregon constitution, the "HOPE for Oregon's families" amendment.""

    Primaries - Open 'em up to everyone. "We have a closed primary system that is set up to elect the most democratic Democrats and the most republican Republicans and then we send them all to Salem and wonder why they cant get along."

    Gay Marriage - "I sponsored SB 1000 because gays and lesbians are human beings and vital members of our communities. As such, they deserve the freedom to form families, as well as the most basic rights--the freedom to eat, live and work free from discrimination."

    Sales Tax - Let's implement it.

    Sounds like some policies I can support! Like I said - I haven't made up my mind - but I will take a hard look this fall.

  • TK (unverified)


    After reading your missive about Unions and your democratic cred, I'm still trying to figure out what your beef is. You state they should be building communities, not building power. Can you elaborate on this political ad-esque generality? Given that pro-corporate conservatives have done everything to undermine unions, worker and consumer protections, I had no idea that unions exerted more power than ever before.

    Sure, unions shouldn't assume they have democrats' support. But that's because unions have been scapegoated in this country, and even Dems like yourself are believing the hype.

  • TK (unverified)


    Maybe Westlund should join the Democratic party then, if his positions hold weight in that arena. That way we don't shoot ourselves in the foot with a 3-way race. He would have had my vote had he been in the primary...

  • Joe Smith (unverified)

    Dono who "CityHallVet" is -- must confess to both curiosity, and to a little concern about the anonymity he or she hides behind -- but I do know who Duke Shepherd is, and suggest a couple of things: Duke complains about "liberals bashing unions." How about liberals somehow having to bash each other? It's one thing to say you disagree with a policy or a position -- but "self important" is simply name calling. A wise man taught me that "whenever you are blaming, you are being irresponsible," and this really seems to apply here. The decision of the Bus Project to -- as The Bus Project -- avoid internecine warfare will be carefully reviewed, and the policy of staying out of Democratic primary races this year will be carefully examined and may well be changed next time 'round, but having been present for the discussion on that I know it was reached out of the best of motives. I also know that the Project has consistently spoken well of, and encourages close and healthy relations with, Labor, and to hear someone with Duke's credentials stooping to snideness really disappoints. That being said, saying "never saw the Bus Project" for Jesse suggests either not knowing who showed up, or some other agenda. I, and other members of the Bus Board, as well as many folks who met Jesse as Bus volunteers, canvassed, called, gave money to Jesse's campaign, and encouraged others to do so -- right up to and including Monday night. I suggest that his coming so close, when he had only seven weeks to catch up to someone of such high name familiarity, is a great credit to Jesse, to his campaign, and to the credentials he stressed -- one very visible of which was "co-founder of The Bus Project." Not sure exactly what CityHallVet's "0 for 2" refers to, but the fact that of the six candidates in contested races in the Metro area who've been closely associated with The Bus, all but one either won outright, or made it to a runoff, doesn't suggest to me that having "been on The Bus" is such a useless thing...

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    Coastdemo: We don't need Westlund for the initiative, right? It will survive or fail, and we'll get the chance to approve it, no matter who's in office. And it's Mitch Greenlick's baby, really. And is Kulo not supporting it? That's a wash.

    I can respect your favoring open primaries (I think they're a terrible idea; IRV is a much better mechanism to do essentially the same thing), but God himself won't push that through any legislature if they don't want it. What support there might be for it would only benefit Republicans in our current political environment.

    Ted supported SB1000; that's also a wash. You really think Westlund will get Minnis and Scott to bring that to the floor? And who's more likely to back actual same-sex marriage? Not Ben, who backed M36.

    Sales tax--making the state tax code even more regressive and unbalanced is not only unpopular, it doesn't make good fiscal sense. (It's not clear whether his sunny savings outlook reflects a loss of income for retailers on the WA, CA, and ID borders once we tax our goods like those other states). But I'll grant you that one; if you want someone to push a sales tax that ends up benefitting the top 30% of households disproportionately, Ben's your guy.

    How are you on Ben's environmental record? It ain't good. Does Westlund's endorsement of Bush in 2004 make you wonder about his judgement? It does for me.

    How about workmen's comp rates? Currently OR enjoys some of the lowest rates in the nation. Ben supported M38, which would have abolished the non-profit administration, and left it to for-profit companies--meaning rates would likely go up, and we'd foot the bill for their profit.

    How are you on minimum wage? Ben wanted to let restaurants lower it for wait staff, and voted in 2001 to allow localities to set their own rates, as well as reducing penalties for companies who fail to pay the required wage.

  • Aaron V. (unverified)

    <snark> I'm wondering if that Emilie Boyles and the Russian guy who gave her the fraudulent signatures were Burdick and Portland Business Alliance plants.

    After all, the Willy Week reported last week that the PBA approached Lister to file a lawsuit against VOE - why not sabotage VOE with a crook like the Russian guy? If he gets caught, then VOE looks bad. If he doesn't, Boyles takes votes away from Sten, and nearly cost Sten an outright victory.</snark>

    Seriously, I'm not surprised that Diane Linn lost, but I'm shocked by how much she lost by. And I don't think the queer community listened to BRO and Just Out - my gaydar went off at Ted Wheeler's party, and I know multiple people who've had bad experiences with the mercurial Marty Davis (Just Out publisher).

    Bernie Giusto getting only 61% of the vote against a medicinal-marijuana advocate and a last-minute write-in candidate is telling - would a recall be in order next year?

    Emilie Boyles and the mysterious Russian is colorful, as was Paul van Orden, the skateboarder/sheriff candidate. And Pavel Goberman ran for something as well. We just needed the Voodoo Doughnut guys, Extremo (who finished 8th of 21 mayoral candidates in 2004), and Ron McCarty to top it off.

    Oh, and for John Mulvey - heya....I still have your mix CD on my iTunes.

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    CityHallVet: Several points...

    Our strategic decision to not spend energy on Portland-area primary races was a tough call, but we had reasons for it: The BusPAC considered revisiting this decision this year, but the best thought at the time was that wading in would be tricky/counterproductive. (i.e. HD46: Ben Cannon is a highly-regarded current board member who ran on Bus-like principles, but there were other progressive Busfolk-supported candidates in the race. See also: Cogen/Frederick/Patterson/Hansen, and Bohan/Read.) Putting the Bus's limited resources into contentious progressive-vs-progressive races would have had enormous opportunity costs, from both the standpoint of resources and solidarity. PDX primary involvement would have risked further splintering of the progressive movement's efforts. (Please reference the far-right-wing's advancement to national control over the last thirty years as a sign of what cohesion can do for a cause before you next cast stones.)

    Jesse's Bus affiliation did help him, even if the organization didn't: He heralded his status as a Bus founding member on his lit, on his website, and in endorsement interviews. And his impressive network of volunteers included dozens of faces also found on the Bus. I know because I saw them alongside me when I walked for him / contributed what meager pennies I could afford. In retrospect, given the closeness of the results, there's probably not one of his many supporters who doesn't wish they'd done another few hours of walking for Jesse.

    Choosing our battles: The BusPAC is not big. We cannot do everything we'd like, and thus we've prioritized swing legislative districts. The first of many in 2006 is happening this Saturday. We'll be walking for state leg candidates who may win or lose by just as few votes in November. If you'd care to help make a difference in Salem, meet at Grant High School in Portland at 9:30am, or Century HS in Hillsboro at 10:45.

    We aim to be a growing, humble engine of change that helps develop leaders like Jesse and Ben along the way. Civic engagement is going to be a part of that. As is direct action. See you Saturday.

    Garrett Downen Bus Project Managing Director

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    Ted is the ultimate union guy, and unions punished him this year for PERS. The union rebuke helped neither Jim Hill nor appeared to hurt Ted.

    I'd be OK with this statement if you included some qualifiers in there, like say...

    "Ted is the ultimate union guy, and a few unions tried to punish him this year for PERS. The rebuke by those few unions helped neither Jim Hill nor appeared to hurt Ted."

    According to Jim's website, it was just these three:

    Oregon State Firefighters Council Oregon School Employee Association Service Employees International Union

  • CityHallVet (unverified)

    Garrett: I respect the size and limitations you face. But Cornett v. Monroe was not progressive versus progressive. It was evolution versus intelligent design. You should have picked sides and helped.

  • MCR (unverified)

    Amen, Duke. Amen.

    Let's remember to distinguish between public and private-sector unions, while we're at it...

    I wrote a piece last week about labor's importance to the national success of the Democrats, which is something that is often overlooked by Democrats.

  • Carlo (unverified)

    By the way...some good news for some Bus-incubated friends....

    1. Bus Board Member Lew Frederick shocked people by making it to a runoff (and might actually win).
    2. Former Bus Board Member Jesse Cornett came painfully close.
    3. Erik Sten -- won, with the marvelous Jen Yocom as the Campaign Manager.
    4. Bus Board Member Ben Cannon won (with a Bus-style grassroots campaign).
    5. Longtime Bus volunteer Tobias Read -- leading by a nose.
    6. Early Bus house party host Bill Fleenor -- the one primary the Bus Lane crew worked hard on (in Eugene) -- won, keeping the Lane Bus's record at something ridiculous like 10 for 10.

    For many involved, Jesse was the one down note on an otherwise surprisingly good night for folks with Bus ties.

    And Jesse isn't done.

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    I feel terrible about the Jesse loss. Terrible. He's a long time friend, I hope will be a lifetime friend, and there was something at stake in the race.

    HELP: That said, he wasn't without a bunch of help: --Katy Lesowski: Picked up ballots, organized a party, phone banked, and did hours and hours of visibility --Joe Baessler: canvassed, phone banked, lined up endorsements, --Joe Smith: canvassed, phone banked, donated, and endorsed --Me: donated, canvassed, referred donors, phone banked (including at AFSCME 2 days ago), made for him a balloon arch for his enviro party. --Garrett Downen: canvassed and donated --Aaron Imlah: Canvassed, phoned, and donated --Sarah Masterson, Anne Martens, and many more: canvassed, phone banked, and did various volunteer stuff.

    REGRETS: Like many of us, I regret not doing more. Not giving a bit more money. Not canvassing a few more times. Not rounding up more people. (A bit of the challenge was that Jesse didn't know as many of the current Bus crew as he did when he stepped off the Board 3 years ago. Many folks helped. Others were already recruitd by the time Jesse heroically announced. This might be the best argument for revisiting the question of getting involved in primaries for homegrown candidates where something is at stake. And another reason I wish i would have helped more. And that everyone would have helped more. 200 votes more.)

    TIME: The biggest challenge Jesse faced was time. It was a short calendar against a guy who's been on the ballot something like 12 times in that district. Had there been another month, Jesse would've won. Maybe another week.

    CLOSE GAMES OFFER BAD LESSONS: A close game always makes for angst and regrets. Could we all have helped more? Were the correct issues focused on? What was the impact of going negative in the race? Should there have been lawn signs? Was the mail right? Ultimately, I think Jesse's team ran a good race, and a lot of people appropriately applied energy. I just wish we would have had 2 more weeks.

    LABOR: A critical component of any strong public interest movement. The future of labor is an excellent question with a lot at stake, but there's no doubting the importance. (Note: To compare the Bus to Labor is's like comparing a seed to a forest.)

    (Quick note to Duke, by the way...SEIU stayed out of District 46. Every Union that played supported Botkin except Hennrich's own Nurses Union. But that race is not at all a yardstick of Labor's importance. One other thing: Mary is a friend and someone who's commitment to a lifetime of work worthy of admiration. That's a gratuitous comment, but it's there.)

    There was a lotta good news last night. But the Jesse thing stings.

  • (Show?)


    Well, not to beat a dead horse, but not only did some unions back Jim, but other who previously backed Ted decided not to (which I alluded to in the post). Here's Pulitzer Prize-winning Nigel Jaquiss covering my ass:

    In the past couple of weeks, one powerful union after another has endorsed Hill, Kulongoski's most prominent opponent in the May 16 gubernatorial primary, or at least snubbed the incumbent. Among the unions that helped elect Kulongoski four years ago but are now backing Hill: the Service Employees International Union and the Oregon School Employees Association, which together represent more than 60,000 Oregon members. Unions that once backed the governor but are now sitting out the primary include such heavyweights as the Oregon Education Association; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and the AFL-CIO. Kulongoski campaign manager Cameron Johnson says he's not surprised labor is sticking its collective thumb in the governor's eye after he asked public employees to make some "tough sacrifices," with pay freezes and benefit cuts.

    And anyway, isn't this where progressives discuss progressive politics? Seems like if I, as a union member, think the unions didn't do so hot in this election, BlueOregon's the place to discuss it.

  • Sid (unverified)


    I have gay friends who think Westlund is the bomb. I think what's happening here is that Westlund stood up to his own party on gay issues, and people like that. I try to point out that Kulongoski and Dems in the legislature all supported SB1000, so how is that any different...

    What's going on here is that it was something expected of Dems, but Westlund, a Republican at the time, seemed to have guts so he stood out from the pack.

    Also, I think people who support him feel that because he no longer has to follow a party line he will be more bold, and there are progressives in this state who are yearning for boldness. Perhaps that "yearning" stems from the overall condition the national Dems have been in the last 15 years.

  • (Show?)

    I have some gay friends too, Sid, and they generally consider SB1000 half a loaf, and the easy political way out. We know Westlund's not on board with gay marriage, so I just don't see the appeal. Sure it was a ballsy move, but the fact remains that if civil unions clears the legislature, the current incumbent will sign it. You don't gain a thing with Westlund at Mahonia.

    I see your point about boldness and vibrancy, but give me an anticharismatic dud who's better on the issues than a personally appealing wildcard.

  • (Show?)

    Jim Hill was at something like 2% a few months ago so SEIU has got to see dragging him above 20% as a victory. The multi-union non-endorsement of Kulongoski was clearly a factor in his anemic 54% showing. Hopefully Kulongoski gets the message that he has to give progressives a reason to vote for him. If he's not giving anyone a reason to vote for him, people could logically conclude that he's not going to win anyway so why not check out Westlund, maybe he really can pull it off. Our first order of business, however, is to make sure nobody forgets what Ron Saxton is: flat-out evil. To the right of Karen Minnis on payday loans. To the right of Kevin Mannix on immigrant-bashing. Had Tim Nashif, king of the gay-bashers, do calls for him. There isn't even a political rationale for defending the payday loan sharks; it's unpopular. He's just a cold-hearted $400 an hour lawyer who doesn't give a damn about poor people. I now think that rather than faking it in this primary, he was hiding his true dangerous right-wing colors from his law firm partners all these years. This is the real Ron Saxton. And he must be destroyed.

  • Duke Shepard (unverified)

    Jefferson: Thanks on the SEIU/46 thing - I got too fired up by Jeff A's initial post and should have slowed down. Duke

  • LT (unverified)

    Well said! Hopefully Kulongoski gets the message that he has to give progressives a reason to vote for him. If he's not giving anyone a reason to vote for him, people could logically conclude that he's not going to win anyway so why not check out Westlund, maybe he really can pull it off. Guess Ted and the DPO have decided that "cares about people like me, understands my problems" is not a polling question they care about.

    There are lots of people who know Ben, who admire something he has done (he's done things people question, but so has Ted).

    Absent evidence to the contrary, apparently Ted and DPO have decided that health care, public safety, school funding, and other such issues are less important than defeating someone they have decided they don't like therefore no one else should like Ben. Or else that it is all about retaining power and ordinary folks don't matter.

    Elections have been lost that way, folks. If the message of Ted/ DPO is "if you know or admire Ben Westlund, we don't want your vote" they might just get their wish!

    And Ben could be the new Gov.

  • (Show?)

    Howdy folks:

    We were close. Real close. We out fundraised him, out worked him and got great support. There are lots of things in the race that we can identify as the reason we didn't win. Lack of support isn't one of them. And endless thanks to so many of you for your help!

    As for Bus involvement. I don't think that it is a good idea for the Bus to get involved in Primaries, directly at least. My affiliation with the Bus was invaluable in this campaign. And lots of indivuals helped. I wish an exception could have been made, but then what's to keep people from getting involved who will just expect support in a cycle or two (we all know that people think like that).

    Paul Evans is running hard against Jackie Winters. Rob Brading against Minnis. My race is lost; these races are not. If you know me and want my personal analysis on why we lost, please call me. Otherwise, let's get to work to help these guys make a difference. The fall race has started. Let's get to work!

  • Duke Shepard (unverified)

    Please note that I’m off the job as I’m writing this. I'm not anti-bus, and I didn’t mean to start a big thing. Lord knows we need more people involved, not fewer, and I don’t need more enemies. I know way too many great people who've worked way too hard to make the Bus a success. My frustration with Jesse's apparent loss and the connection to the Bus Project is this: I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that the Bus Project, in official and unofficial communications, appears to be intent on conveying that the Bus is the ultimate progressive political force, responsible for nearly every swing victory in the 2004 election, the largest canvass in history, etc. I’m not the only person who gets this vibe. From what I've seen and heard, it's fundamentally a canvass operation and some phone banks. That's all really good, but it wasn't a recent invention. It is valuable and important, and the Bus Project plays a great role in engaging people. So do lots of other groups. But swing seats and races, especially in 2004, had or have everyone's attention. There are lots of activities in swing seats by lots of groups and individuals, and in 2004 a ton of resources from all over the country were poured into the state. I guess I'm saying that - just once in a while and I'm just speaking for myself - a little reality and occasional humility wouldn't hurt. Constantly claiming such huge impact on the state's elections, but not stepping up for your own guy, reasonably invites the question. Maybe it isn't fair or even accurate, but it isn't unreasonable when the blog topic is winners and losers. If the rhetoric didn’t so often feel so overblown to begin with, you wouldn't have me writing anything - it would just be another unfortunate loss.
    Finally, Jefferson, listing seven people who helped sort of illustrates my point. All great people, at least several of whom I have to believe would have been involved anyway because Jesse is a great guy and they are active in politics - with or without the Bus. Bus affiliation probably didn’t get them to Jesse’s campaign and the product that Bus rhetoric claims to deliver – a busload of progressives who otherwise wouldn’t be there, arriving en masse to change an election – did not materialize and apparently wasn’t even an option. It’s absolutely not the Bus Project’s fault that Jesse lost, and I’m sure as heck not claiming that is the case – there is rarely one reason for a narrow loss, and I agree that the fact that Frank Shields cooked this whole thing and shortened the race to 6 weeks is BY FAR the single most important factor. I’m merely observing a gap between public rhetoric and delivery in what appeared to be a poster child type of opportunity for the Bus Project. I know even offering a critique of the Bus makes me a progressive political leper in Portland, but I’ve got to be honest about where I'm at, and the blog was on winners and losers. None of this personal.

  • lvm (unverified)

    If I vote at all in the Governor's race, I will be most powerfully inclined to vote Green or other splinter party. The incumbent has mostly treated labor and the environment with contempt (early decisions regarding state employees and the State Forestry Board) and then placated us with a few meaningless election-eve sops. He'll see Tuesday's results as a vindication, "run to the right," and, if elected, deliver more of the same. This party needs to learn that it cannot win without its core constituencies. The state will learn that it is just as well off without Gorge casinos and a sales tax.

  • Kevin (unverified)

    Incumbents in Pennsylvania didn't do so well. It'll be interesting to see how incumbents do this November when everyone gets to vote.

    Hey, I hear you on the donations=loss thing. I've given money to two candidates... ever, Howard Dean and Morrison (ran against Tom DeLay in 2004) and both got trounced. But, I didn't take it badly. Both were principled donations that didn't hinge on winning the race.

    Loren Parks... There's something deeply unsettling about his relationship with Kevin Mannix. I have a hard time believing that his motivation is the causes Mannix has championed. It seems to be more about Mannix himself. Almost makes me wonder if Mannix has something on Parks and just blackmails him with it. Although, given how sleazy Parks' out-of-the-closet life is, it boggles the mind to ponder what he could possibly want kept secret. I dunno... there's just something deeply odd about that relationship. Definitely more than meets the eye, IMHO.

  • Wesley Charles (unverified)

    Wow . . . how bad did Diane Linn lose?

    The incumbent MultCo Chair received fewer votes (27,145) than did Don DuPay, the hemp-huffing ex-cop who ran for county sheriff (29,601).

    What should she do with seven months left in her term? She should resign.

    A little known feature of Multnomah County government is that every elected official is supposed to name someone to take their place on an interim basis in case the elected official vacates the office due to death, incapacity, resignation, etc. That interim official serves temporarily until a replacement can be named by the Board. In this case, the obvious replacement would be Ted Wheeler.

    According to the county clerk, Diane Linn's named replacement who would serve as acting chair until Wheeler takes office is . . .

    . . . Former Governor Barbara Roberts

    • Wes
  • James Mattiace (unverified)

    Thanks to Carlo for the nod about the Lane Bus Project. But a slight correction, we are only 8.5 for 8.5, not 10 for 10. (that's one mayor, 3 city councilors. 3 school board members, a county commissioner, and a primary win) And let me just add, since I chair the thing down here, that the current Steering Committee and staff really pulled one out the stops for Bill Fleenor. Although we can't say we made the ulitmate difference (he won by 3400 votes) , we'd like to think we contributed to making it a blowout and unseating a two term incumbent in a big way. Bill will be able to walk into his seat in January with that all important Mo'. The real praise for the campaign goes to Campaign Manager Isaac Rochester and his able consiglieres Les Weinstein and Scott Bartlett. Isaac is the current rock star in Lane County. I think he got 15 job offers last night alone. Having an awesome candidate helped too........

    So now, we will make it happen for Sen. Vicki Walker, and Chris Edwards as well as a host of other state leg races. The Bus Rule about getting involved in contested partisan primaries makes sure we are around for a longgggg time. So City Hall Vet, if you think we are missing a race for the summer lineup, make your voice heard in a more productive manner. And note that many of us use the skills and talents we get from being on the Bus to assist other campaigns in a less than organizational is it working? I'd say it is, if the other two races I worked this Spring on are an indication.

    May 20th we roll.

    James Mattiace

  • Kevin (unverified)

    Oops... forgot my Westlend comment.

    Seems to me that Westlund has a great deal of motivation to try to keep the public's perception of Saxton as the hard right candidate who won the primary. Undoubtedly he'd have preferred to face Mannix.

    If Westlund does that successfully then the three-way dynamics come November should be very interesting for Kulingoski because Westlund would in a round about way be very much helping Kulingoski paint Saxton into a corner.

    I can't see any scenario which doesn't leave Westlund and Saxton dueling for moderates, which has got to worry the hell out of the same Oregon GOPers who are pleased that a relative moderate won their primary.

    In a way I'm wondering if the Saxton win doesn't actually help Kulingoski.

  • james Mattiace (unverified)

    And I didn't feel it necessary to add that OLCV, AFSCME, the firefighters and everyone else who helped also made a huge impact. I guess I take it for granted that no one assumes we claim WE did it alone. I would never be so bold, but apparantly we have been misread. Every organization touts its win/loss, but I guess we need to add the fine print that we don't consider ourselves the only candidate helper. Why does that need saying?

    So I'd like to reword my above post to include the disclaimer that "any actions the Bus took or did not take were merely part of the larger movement which can include but is not limited to environmental, labor, direct action, farmers, reproductive rights, political parties, civil rights, civil liberties, religious, education, clean government, & voter outreach groups, weather, nature, God/Goddess, and candidates' mothers." Having said that, we*(see above list) won.
    We get to celebrate.

    James Mattiace

  • Molly (unverified)

    I just want to thank everyone that helped with Jesse's campaign. I'm hopeful that he'll chose to run again someday and that you will all continue to support him. After seeing firsthand how hard he works, the respect he gives to the political process, and the integrity in which he does his work, it's truly a loss to Oregon that he won't be representing us-- right now anyway :) I just really appreciated everyone's help and support. It would be easy to dwell on the "what if's", but in the spirit of moving forward I'm feeling inspired to focus my energy on ways to get more people involved in the election process. As I was canvassing, I was honestly shocked at the vast apathy of people I talked with. These were registered Democrats that were so frustrated with the idea of politics and feeling so powerless in the process that they weren't willing to color in a couple of dots and lick an envelope. Statements that all politicians are crooked and that their vote doesn't count were abundant. It was a real eye opener for me.

    I applaud the efforts of the Bus Project to engage voters with new and creative ways to make politics friendly, fun, and less intimidating. They've done some pretty amazing things for Oregon and continue to evolve in ways that are impressive and innovative. I respect the policy they have regarding primary races and feel confident that it was a particularly difficult decision to follow that policy in Jesse's race. It sounds like there may be some discussion about modifying that policy for the future-- just as all organizations review and modify as they grow and encounter new situations.

    I know that I'll be spending my time between now and November trying to help voters (if even just a few) gain some faith in our election system, see how they can make a difference, and realize how their vote is powerful. Because in our district, we've elected a State Senator that has a very small fraction of the support of the people in our district--- and that's truly disappointing.

  • (Show?)

    Jeff, I think BlueOregon is a GREAT place to talk about unions. I just happen to disagree with your original point.

    As to Nigel J. covering your ass, let's take another look at those quotes:

    Among the unions that helped elect Kulongoski four years ago but are now backing Hill: the Service Employees International Union and the Oregon School Employees Association, which together represent more than 60,000 Oregon members.

    "Among" -- yeah, he named two of the three, but made it sound like there were dozens more. At the time, it might have felt like an oncoming landslide, but it never materialized.

    Unions that once backed the governor but are now sitting out the primary include such heavyweights as the Oregon Education Association; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and the AFL-CIO.

    But wait just a minute. This quote denies your original point. If these guys GOT OUT OF THE RACE, then it doesn't make sense to suggest that their power to affect the outcome was limited. "Sitting out of the primary" means sitting out of the primary.

    In any case, Novick is right. Ron Saxton is a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad man.

  • (Show?)

    There were more "bus people" who did work on Jesse's campaign than Jefferson was able to list. That was just a short list. I was able to help out some, but not anywhere near as much as I would've liked (heck, I was lucky to get in any family time with my hubby and daughter over the past few weeks). I'm also a "bus person."

    There are a lot of people who are "bus people" that you probably don't realize are involved with the Project. And a good number of those people were helping Jesse, as well as other Bus-incubated friends.

    But I wouldn't blame the Project over this. As has already been said, they don't get directly involved in the primary. Their volunteers, founders, etc. may, but the Project does not. Getting involved in the primary can be a very messy process and can alienate members of your organization. This is much less likely in the general.

    I'm disappointed in the 200 vote loss as well-- I think Jesse's a great guy and I really enjoyed working with Molly and Nathaniel. I also know how hard it can be to lose when you give it your all. I've never run for a position as high up as state senate (school board), I have run and lost twice. I learned a lot from both experiences, and they'll make me a better candidate in the future. It's a whole different world being a candidate than it is working on a campaign. Unfortunately ometimes even the best candidates lost their first time.

  • blue kid (unverified)

    Jenni, would you be involved with campaigns if the Bus didn't exist?

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    I'm an oddity-- I got involved in politics at age 12. At that time it was local politics (school board, mostly).

    I got involved in partisan politics two years later when I volunteered with our county party. I worked on races from county commission to president that year (it was Clinton-Bush-Perot that year).

    While still a senior in high school, I ran for office for the first time-- school board. Being a witness (and suspected plaintiff) in the Santa Fe ISD vs Doe case in a "Christian Coalition town," I wasn't surprised when I lost. The incumbent afterwards admitted that he thought I had a good chance of beating him, which made his reconsider his actions (and change how he voted on future items) on the board. That right there was well worth the time I spent in running. I tried again the next year, but lost again.

    Many of the young(er) people I've met while working with the Bus got involved because of the Project. Someone came and spoke to their school. They knew someone who told them about the Bus. The list goes on...

  • (Show?)

    Re Bus Project:

    Self promotion is part and parcel of building an org like this. If it ain't exciting and fun, you've tied a hand behind your back. Jeff and his crew would have been incredibly shortsighted had they spent a bunch of time agonizing over appropriate levels of self effacement.

    I've hovered around the fringes of the project almost since the very beginning, and have seen a stream of bright, dedicated progressives come out of that experience with more tools to fight the battle.

    To say that the Cornett Campaign would have been no different without the alliances and resources afforded by Bus Project involvement is just flat wrong.


    There have been lots of crazy rumors flying around about the bus for years. Why I recall not that long ago when the meme was that it was just a vehicle (yeah, I know, I know) for Jefferson Smith's personal ambition.

    Funny thing though, I haven't see any Smiths on that ballot since the project started.

    Maybe it's time.


    Jesse, You da man and I'm only sorry that I couldn't have helped out more, but I have a good excuse.

    I was out working in my local house race.

  • Christy Splitt (unverified)

    I have been following the thread within this thread regarding the Bus Project all day today and I finally have a few moments to sit down and add my humble 2 cents.

    When I visited Jesse's campaign headquarters during the last 2 weeks, I saw a wall of stars. On each star was written the name of a campaign volunteer or donor. As I looked at that wall, I mentioned to Nathaniel (Jesse's campaign manager) that at least every other star was a Bus person. Bus staff. Bus board members. Bus founders. Bus volunteers like me. I swelled with pride for Jesse that so many busy, busy people came out to East Portland to support his candidacy. To me, it speaks absolute volumes about Jesse and about the Bus Project and its volunteers.

    And no, I would not have been there without my involvement with the Bus Project. I would not know who Jesse Cornett is, nor would I have ever left my digs in North Portland to volunteer for someone outside my district.

    I also want to respond to the idea that the Bus should be doing primary support in Portland. The Bus Project has stayed out of Portland races (primary or general) because BusPAC's mission is to support progressive candidates in swing districts. As much as we all love Jesse and wanted him to be state senator (really, really, really badly), geography and party registrations would have kept us out of the race. It is simply not a swing district.

    I want to thank Jesse and Molly for their hard work and for their words about the Bus today. I think that they know more than anyone the amount of heart and effort "Bus people" put into the campaign. Congrats to the whole team for a well-fought battle and know that there are so many of us wishing that we had done more as individuals. I certainly do, because I know that every phone call and every knocked door makes a difference. Please accept my apologies for not doing more and, Jesse, when you run again, I am so there.

    Finally, anyone who summarizes the Bus Project as "fundamentally a canvass operation and some phone banks" needs to spend some time with us. I think, Duke, that it is time to go on a Bus trip, attend a Candidates Gone Wild, participate in Bus Project Presents, talk to the 7 people who are here at 8:30 at night working on the Building Votes program (I am guessing one of them is getting paid to be here) and then head over to Acme to talk to the folks working on Trick or Vote. Then, you should probably talk to the Youth Caucus kids about their thoughts on school funding, local election results, civic engagement, and youth voting trends. They would knock your socks off.

  • visitor (unverified)

    It's interesting to read the defensive comments by BusPAC folks. From my quick skim, most seemed sensitive about Mr. Cornett's race, but oddly, none of the comments appears to talk about the low voter turnout. Is this not one of the six E's? Why has no one, including BusPAC taken any responsibility for the low voter turnout? And maybe responsibility is too strong a word. But why has no one suggested that the BusPAC, or even progressives generally, failed Oregon voters by not engaging voters, equalizing the debate, moving Oregon forward with ideas and candidates. Instead, we hit almost a record low turnout and no one is talking about it.

    This should be the talk 'round the water cooler. Not only because an informed and engaged electorate will make better elections (less 30 second soundbytes and glossy mail that says nothing but I’m for the good stuff and against the bad stuff), but also because democracy’s future depends on it.

    Even the well-touted public financing for Portland's elections didn't appear to allow a message to permiate an apathetic public.

  • Seth (unverified)

    I would have never gotten involved without the Bus Project. They are out recruiting people like me (in high school and college) in a way that no other organization is doing... and anyone who has actually gotten on the Bus can see that's the case.

  • (Show?)

    This is getting hilarious.

    Other than Duke's clever pivot to draw attention away from Labor, I don't see how this became a blogasm about the Bus.

    The Bus has a modest budget. A small staff. A short lifespan. And, by far most important, a wonderful crew of smart, publicly interested, creative, cool, committed, often funny, usually kind..volunteers.

    This year, we are hoping to: (1) "Drive Votes" -- BusPAC: Knock on 50k-100k doors around Oregon (an ambitious or modest goal...depending on perspective). And do it in a volunteer-driven way that allows for politicians to be accountable primarily to the public interest.
    (2) "Drive (New) Votes" -- Bus Citizen (nonpartisan): Register 15,000 voters (nonpartisan). (More than we ever have...and I'm not sure if we can do it...but the leadership team is great) To put this in perspective, that's much much smaller than ACT or the other big funded operations. (3) "Drive Leaders" -- Bus Project's PolitiCorps: Run the PolitiCorps immersion training program and make it an national model. (20 Fellows through a 10-week immersion training program. And hope that some of them end up Ben Cannons, Jen Yocoms, Caitlin Baggotts, Anne Martenses, Joe Baesslers, Charles McGees, Rachel Pilliods, Rahna Eptings, Quinn Wilhelmis, Adam Petkuns, and Jesse Cornetts (and...and...).
    (4) "Drive Ideas"--Try to incubate programs that other States can borrow -- like Trick-or-Vote, Candidates Gone Wild, Re-Booting Democracy Caucus, and other volunteer-driven models that can engage new people and make baby steps to lasting change around the wascally 6 E's.

    Not cure cancer. Not win every race (or even try). Not engage every Oregon voter. Not supplant other organizations (many of whom are wonderful..."the Bus is what you do ALSO").

    Also...not do nothing. Not do backbiting politics. Not close down after six-months of electoral energy. Not do self-interest politics. Not spend all of the time in internecine squabbles or time-suck blog arguments. And hope that over the next ten years we can demand a higher standard from public service and create a little public interest constituency to give elected leaders some liquid courage.

  • (Show?)

    And to be clear...I don't think attention needs to be drawn away from labor. Some TO it perhaps. Paraphrasing Robert Reich, Labor might be an aging prizefighter...but it's the only one fighting in its corner.

  • (Show?)


    Great post. I really liked it when Jen said that at Rebooting Democracy when she was honored for all the work that she did-- that the Bus is something she does also.

    I feel the same way, and can't wait to get to my first bus trip of the season. I'd really wanted to do a Building Blocks training, but the weekday ones never seemed to have enough people-- people seemed to really like the weekend ones.

    People have to realize that organizations can't do everything. Trying to will only lead to burnout and ok results on a lot of stuff. It works better when you focus your limited time, people, and money in a few places and do great. Different organizations can work in different areas, overlapping on a few.

    And it wasn't only progressives who didn't turnout-- turnout was bad across the political spectrum. This is also a problem across the country-- after the past few elections, people feel that voting doesn't matter. Changing that attitude doesn't happen overnight, or even over a couple months. It's something we have to work hard on over the next few years.

  • TOG (unverified)

    To Pat Ryan, many thanks for pointing out the appropriateness of organizations -- especially little ones and new ones (both of which The Bus Project is) -- touting the good things they've helped make happen. How do you get people to volunteer? By helping them see they can make a difference. How do you get people to give money? By helping them to believe it can make a difference. And having been present more times than not, I know The Bus has never claimed it was "the reason" for any progressive candidate's success -- but believe it legitimate to say it has been "a reason," and that it is not just O.K., but right, for it to say that, as it strives to make the seed JDES describes grow. This Saturday we'll canvass for Chuck Riley, David Edwards, and Larry Galizio. Will that make the difference in November for any of them? We can probably never know. But what we can know is that if Labor, and OLCV, and NARAL, and BRO, and Stand, and all the other progressive organizations and movements join hands and work together, we can together make the difference. We can also know if we spend our time sniping at each other, so that potential participants with any of us decide to stay home, we may well fail.
    One more thought: if Chuck, or David, or Larry, win by a margin like that of Jeff Barker four years ago (48 votes, as I recall), I think it will be fair for every single one of the organizations who pitched in to say "We were part of the difference." Not "We were the main difference." Especially not "We were the only difference!" And even more especially, not to descend into debate over "who made the biggest difference." (It would, for example, be ludicrous for the Bus to claim it comes even close to having the impact Labor has -- and I know for a fact it has never so claimed.) But maybe it's o.k. for every organization who helped win a real close one to say "Without us it wouldn't have happened." And to take pride in that. And to be really, really glad there were other folks in the fight, without whom it also couldn't have happened. So Duke, and CityHallVet, and Visitor, come canvass with us this Saturday. Wear your union badge, or your City Hall badge, or your visitor's badge -- but let's help Chuck, and David, and Larry, turn things around in Salem next January. Joe Smith, aka TOG (for Token Old Guy), at The Bus Project.

  • NWW (unverified)

    When any group is doing great work in politics than they can expect to take some hits. The work is the work, and sometimes small organizations make the right decisions, and sometimes they don't - it's all a learning experience.

  • (unverified)

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    Jesse loses by only 176 votes. How about demanding a recount?

    Wondering if Ginny is thinking about the same thing.

  • (Show?)

    Jefferson, my back has been giving me trouble lately, and I think I might have exczema. And halitosis. How can The Bus help me, and why the hell not?

  • (Show?)

    And if you can't make it on the bus trip this weekend because you're going to the Progressive Leadership Summit, keep an eye out on the Bus Project's calendar for other upcoming canvasses.

    I do know there is one on June 4 and one on June 24th-- the evening of the 24th will be "Drive," the Project's annual gala.

  • TK (unverified)


    Yes, for shame... the Bus Project FAILED us. How could they? Failed ALL of us. The rest of us don't have TIME to read the voters pamplet or check out a website or two prior to the election. We have lives, and the Bus Project folk didn't sacrifice enough of theirs to kick enough asses into voting. They were supposed to be our 'voter alarm clock', if you will. Psshh. They clearly FAILED Oregon.

  • LT (unverified)

    "Jesse loses by only 176 votes. How about demanding a recount?"

    Unless it is the specified fraction of a percent, candidate pays for recount.

    But it might be worthwhile either way.

  • blue kid (unverified)

    The point is that the Bus likes to take credit when their members show up at a campaign, even when they say that they're not endorsing that campaign.

    The credit for all the great volunteers at the Cornett campaign goes to the Cornett campaign, not the Bus. And it's all the "the Bus people rocked the Cornett campaign" chatter that turns people off.

    The Bus does great work, but not every good thing done by someone who happens to be a Bus member is a credit due to the Bus.

  • (Show?)

    Looking at the growing thread, a few thoughts occur to me:

    1) Energy is clearly not a problem among activists. Voters may not have turned out, but I see no lassitude among BlueOregon readers.

    2) Labor's role in the Democratic Party is changing, and this means expectations are all over the place. I may have been overly hasty in my analysis that unions were "losers" in this election: I guess that, as a union guy, I still long for the days when endorsing a candidate got you a third of the electorate.

    3) The Bus may be suffering from the same thing labor is--oversized expectations. No, they are not able to rain down victories from the heavens, like Zeus throwing lightning bolts. But does anyone really think Oregon would be the same without them?

  • Broono (unverified)

    Seems like the jealous playa-hatahs should shush up and not listen to Duke S.

    This guy has been around since the X-PAC days ... and he's always been a wannabe Chip Terhune or Mark Weiner.

    This is the guy who worked with the Sten-bashing Portland Business Ass'n until the political winds pushed him to switch sides to work for the Nesbitt-less AFL.

    And is there any doubt that this is the guy who put his partner Laura Bridges up to slashing Diane Linn? Lying in the weeds until the 11th hour, and then releasing lurid news -- as Weiner/ Kaufman/ Terhune/ McCaig/ Duke retribution for their feeling that she mistimed the gay marriage recognition.

    Why the AFL hired him I'll never know (except that he'll carry the water for the Weiner/ Kaufman/ McCaig consultant cabal). His judgment (including picking this silly non-fight) is not very good.

  • Broono (unverified)

    Oh...and while I'm a few years older than the people the Bus has plugged in, the 2 times I've seen them a Bus speaker they were modest and self deprecating (and funny!).

    Now...let's talk about something else. This thread is yesterday's news!

  • Jessica (unverified)

    If he's from X-Pac then it may well be jealousy. He's complaining about the Bus Project not doing enough? What was it again that xpac did, drink beer and listen to speakers? I didn't know he was from xpac.

  • Duke Shepard (unverified)

    This may be too little too late, but I sent this out directly to some folks this morning, and feel I owe it to them to post it here publicly. There is absolutely no AFL-CIO/labor-bus rift. There was a “Duke Shepard (private citizen) spouting off too much” occurrence and I genuinely feel badly about it, and more than a little embarrassed.

    No excuses, just bad judgment. I let my emotions the day after the election get the best of me, which is not acceptable or excusable. I put my employer and many other good people, especially Jefferson and even worse - Jesse - in a bad spot, something that was unnecessary and inappropriate.

    I honestly haven’t met a union leader who doesn’t like the Bus Project; everyone values it. I’m not so stupid as to not realize progressive causes need the Bus Project more than they need me, even if I was a loose cannon yesterday. FYI, from now on I’m doing everyone a favor and keeping my dumb ass off of Blue Oregon.

  • Union Maid and Made (unverified)

    Thanks Duke.

    I am a Union Woman brought into this world by two other Union Members so it makes me a Union Maid and Union Made...proud of it too.

    It is strange to me that all these young and old, energetic and worn out, bright and bored folk who want to trash Unions without any regrets sure don't hesitate taking advantage of all the gains Unions have made.

    Why don't they agree to work for whatever the employer is wiling to give and forgo the minimum wage, how about giving up week-ends, holidays and vacations too? Not to mention maximum work hours and safe working conditions. Better yet why don’t they just move to a state that has really weak unions so they can work in an environment they clearly admire?

    If you think Unions don’t matter then try living in an area without any or with very weak ones?

    Maybe each of you are the real reason Unions have lost their power. Though I don’t believe they really have – but I guess if you say it often enough people will believe it and it will become true.

    The bus and the Unions – uhm. I sort of remember at least one Union, AFSCME, that gave early and often, but I guess if you are a true believer you don’t have to take time to say thanks to those who believed before you got here. And some of you are certainly good a picking fights for other people. Since when was there a fight between the Bus and the Unions?

    I for one am sick to death of a growing number of people willing to take cheap shots at the Labor Movement and are so short sighted they have no alternatives or suggestions about where the balance of power will come from. Do you think because you are just starting your careers or chose to work in a non-union environment that life would really be better for you at the hands of the compassionate employer community?

    And BTW – I talked with Mary Botkin and she sure doesn’t sound like a loser. She ran a good race, talked with lots of people and will now go back to work with one of those Unions all of you seem to hate. Oh ya and she gets to go back to Salem to make sure that Ben and the Legislature deliver on all those promises they made to get elected.

  • Kim (unverified)

    Maid & Made, Since when was there a fight between the Bus and the Unions? When Mr. Shepard decided to describe here earlier that the Bus was "relentlessly self important." Read the entire thread next time.

  • Maid and Made (unverified)

    Back at you - read the comment again - what I said was "Since when was there a fight between the Bus and the Unions?" I did read the whole thread and agreed with you - there is NO fight - are you and I fighting now? Hope not.

  • (Show?)

    Maid & Made, Since when was there a fight between the Bus and the Unions? When Mr. Shepard decided to describe here earlier that the Bus was "relentlessly self important."

    It was a stupid comment. Duke admitted that it was a stupid comment and apologized for it. It's time to take him at his word and move on. It's going to be tough enough to win in November without pulling the circular firing squad crap that we're seeing in this thread. We should be trying to split apart Republican coalitions, not breaking apart our own. Keep your eyes on the ball, people.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    Unions were called a loser in Tuesday's election, but it goes beyond that. When workers' corporations lose all workers lose.

    My union endorsed Jim Hill and we worked for him - lit dropping, phone banking, appearing at rallies. The kind of things folks who know the art and science of government - politics - do. While nobody can say for sure, probably most who didn't show up at the ballot box were not big Kulongoski supporters. Workers always lose when they don't vote.

  • Joe Smith (unverified)

    Something I also should have said: The Bus would never have been able to reach even the small stature it may now have without tremendous Union support -- both with money, and with bodies. There has been no "Labor/Bus rift." I also really appreciate Duke's last entry -- and seriously folks: this Saturday will be a great opportunity to help the quest for a change of leadership in the House; come canvass! Feel free to give the credit for your participation to the organization of your choice, or to no organization at all (just a desire for better government works!) -- but come canvass. Grant High at 9:30, or Century High (in Hillsboro), 10:45. Let's acknowledge we've all learned from the recent past, and use it to change the future. TOG

  • Ken (unverified)

    I agree with most of what has been said in defense of Duke and the Labor Movement. Thanks to TOG for his clarification about the mutual need of the Bus Project and the Labor Movement. Did anyone really read the points that Union Maid and Made stated?

    She pointed out all the things most of us take for granted and did not trash the Bus - but praised it for the work they do that is different from that of the Labor Movement. The sad thing is --- they were unable to elect one of their own this time in one race -- but did in two other races. Mary Botkin did not lose because she was a bad candidate, or did not work hard enough...she lost because there were 3 other women and a guy in the race. The women split a majority (8,361 total cast) of votes (5,226 total cast for 4 women) and helped Ben win with a majority of the balance (3,135). This race was an example of having too many good folks running in one race. Union members could have elected a candidate all on their own. Instead they chose to be silent. That in my opinion is the saddest part of this whole thing. Union members need to be involved, get active and get even for worsening working conditions, a lack of good jobs and bad economic times that we all face. I just wish I knew the answer to making that happen.

    Ben talked about giving back - well now is the time. He can show his support for the men and women who just get up and go to work every day - rain or shine, good or bad. I am sure the AFL-CIO and the 4 women in that race will give him the opportunity to show his commitment to better jobs - by holding Wal-Mart and other corporations accountable, dignity on the job by making sure women and minorities have equal rights. Community safety by making sure we have programs and rehabilitation in the criminal justice system. Compassion by making sure seniors, disabled and the poor have the same rights as others to live with dignity and security.

    Go Ben - it is all yours now! Show us your stuff!


  • insider (unverified)

    I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that the Bus Project, in official and unofficial communications, appears to be intent on conveying that the Bus is the ultimate progressive political force, responsible for nearly every swing victory in the 2004 election, the largest canvass in history, etc. I’m not the only person who gets this vibe.

    Duke, despite your retraction, the silent majority of insiders is nodding along with you.

  • Jack (unverified)


    Most young people have a hard time with the cynisism of people like you, which keeps them away from politics in the first place. When the Bus Project can tell a group of young folks that 9 out of 10 races it canvassed for won - those young people think, "Wow, I really can make a difference - despite the fact that I can't make a campaign contribution." Can you please explain to me why that's a bad thing?

  • blue kid (unverified)

    When the Bus Project can tell a group of young folks that 9 out of 10 races it canvassed for won...

    Nothing wrong with that statement, but there's a big difference between saying that 9/10 that they canvassed for won, and claiming that the 1 or 2 canvasses they did was the reason they won.... which is closer to to the Bus PR spin. It's hard to argue that a single big canvass is even a top 10 reason that a campaign wins, much less the biggest reason.

  • Jack (unverified)

    Blue kid, Not true - I've been to many Bus events and canvasses and I've never heard anyone say anything like that. They always say that 9 out of 10 candidates they have canvassed for won their respective elections. ...and canvassing is the most effective political tool - whether you want to believe it or not. As an older person with a son who has only been interested in politics until he was approached by a Bus volunteer, I really appreciate everything they have done in Oregon to engage young people. I really question the motives of people who tend to critisize the bus project. This is not an interest group organization - it's a group of kids who wanted to make a difference but didn't have the money to contribute to a campaign. A group of kids who recognized the lack of interest and total cynicism within their own cohort - so they did something about it. I think it's a waste of time critisizing them - won't that just contribute to their lack of political motivation? Isn't this what we want from our youth? I sometimes wonder if the grown-ups who critisize wish they had thought of this (or something like it) when they were young. I for one am glad my son has something to be proud of - and I encourage him to tell people that he helped get good people elected.

  • gimmeabreak (unverified)

    Hey blue kid who gives a crap if they implied that? Maybe it's true! I hope they tell kids that everywhere so they'll go canvass.

  • (Show?)

    Jack, from the Unfortunate Typo Dept: "As an older person with a son who has only been interested in politics until he was approached by a Bus volunteer..."

    I knew that 'Win a Date with Ted Wheeler' campaign was a bad idea...

  • Jack (unverified)

    Yikes...well I didn't mean it to sound like that (blush).

  • Publius (unverified)

    Yawn. How about closing this thread so no one else wastes the time I've just wasted wading through it.

  • stupid (unverified)

    What you don't understand, is that when the "insiders" bash on volunteer-driven, homegrown, grassroots politics -- all it does it make it harder to recruit people to do it. Of course, that might allow the well-paid consultant insiders to keep their grip on power. But it probably isn't good for democracy.

    Not surprising that it'd be the "insider" cabal has taken an interest in this stupid argument. (The smartest thing said was how boring and stupid this thread is. Cheers to you Publius. Let's shut this bumd chat down.)

  • Christy (unverified)

    Indeed, “stupid”

    Of course the "insiders" love to critique the volunteer-driven grassroots efforts.

    The "insiders" are the people who didn't help out the Bus at the beginning, don't help now, and have little clue about how the Bus brands itself. These are the very people who want politics to be governed by mail pieces and cash donations -- rather than direct voter contact with a dash of volunteerism. Who think negative campaigning is the best way of the world -- even though it crushes voter turnout--and think positive campaigning is silly and naïve.

    How did this argument get so long? Because of 3 idiot insiders with axes to grind? Let’s move onto other things.

  • stupid (unverified)

    And that the "silent majority" of insiders don't want more people competing for their jobs...or competing for their credit...or potentially challenging the way they've convinced everyone to do it.

    Classic power holding onto power -- even if the results of that power are more and more vapid and visionless.

  • Christy (unverified)

    Hell yeah Stupid! We're the only two geeks left at 5pm on friday debating this non point, but the "insiders" have got me pissed off! This is merely the newest false and badly motivated critique.

    -- "Volunteerism is dead" -- well...maybe only if you run without a message, without a program, and without any real people helping. -- "The Bus will never recruit the people" -- well, thousands of people later, that turned out to be wrong too. -- "Just so Jeff Smith can get elected." That one seems particularly funny now. He might get pissed for mentioning this, but he's turned down requests to run for nine different things (not conting the non-serious requests), and just helped friends (and bare acquaintances) run instead. So that one doesn't work anymore either.
    -- "It'll die after a year or two." We'll, it's approaching year five. It's a good question whether Teddy K -- whose campaign was run by those same consultants and "insiders" -- will last longer. I hope so...but a good question.

    Now that those have been shown to be so blatantly false, the self-described "insiders" have a new one -- "they market themselves too much."

    That one too is perhaps the funniest one.

    The Bus is much MORE selfless than many many many orgs. They pay themselves less, and they work more. The Bus has trumpeted gargantuanly more OTHER organizations, more OTHER candidates, more OTHER efforts that people can engage in. When they gave their annual award, they gave it to the head of ANOTHER political nonprofit (Jonah Edelman) -- which is darn rare in the small-minded era of competing for donors and resources. They have spent time to raise money for OTHER organizations. When they had their conference, it was to get people to volunteer for the ballot measures of OTHER organizations.

    Even when they canvass, they don’t push their own agenda, but a CANDIDATE'S agenda . . . pretty much unique in the political realm.

    And afterwards, they give a gift of thanks to the hardworking campaign manager -- to whom they usually publicly credit for most of the real work.

    They encourage VOLUNTEERS. Even if those volunteers like the style or strategy of other organizations better...the Bus welcomes and encourages it. (There are a lot of groups who do a lot of stuff better than the Bus does.)

    And the Bus is CERTAINLY light years more selfless than just about any “insider” (who gets paid well for their middling work as they jump from loyalty to loyalty at the turn of a check). For "insiders" to use a self-glorification critique is the height of irony and stupidity.

    This is like a bizarro argument.

    Finally, the Bus isn't even really a "thing" -- it's just a collection of volunteers who share a roughly common set of values. Who they are really glorifying are the VOLUNTEERS, who certainly deserve to be glorified. All of their marketing is for the benefit of the volunteers, the future volunteers, the volunteer-driven model, and for forward-thinking civic engagment generally.

    Of course that would seem weird and threatening to the "silent majority" of insiders and consultants.

  • Christy (unverified)

    One more thing (I'm an addict).

    Over the past year, when the Bus trumpets its electoral successes, it does so with specificity and just about ALWAYS goes out of its way to say "some of it was luck" and "there was a lot of other work happening to." Even when they are raising money. (They might have slipped a few times, but it's almost humorous how consistent they are at it.)

    A few facts: -- Jeff Barker won by 40 votes. The Bus hit 2000 doors. Of course, in such a close race, every Barker volunteer and org. who helped made the difference.... -- Joanne Verger won by 861 votes. The Bus hit 7400 doors. -- Laurie Monnes Anderson won by 1100 votes. The Bus hit 10,000 doors. Of course, the campaign itself hit an additional large number. -- Alan Bates won by 2400 votes. The Bus hit 21,000 doors (not "one or two canvasses" -- but 4 full 2-day overnight weekends in Medford) -- when a bunch of the "insiders" had abanadoned him because Kathy Shaw ran a locally-controlled campaign, and pretty much just OLCV, the Bus, his colleagues, and the community stuck with him.

    The Bus doesn't win races. The glory is owed to the candidate, the campaign, and the community. The Bus can only help. But it does help.

    Thus, you! I'm sure the Bus would love the wisdom, guidance, and additional energy.

    Anyway, let's hope no one considering whether to join progressive politics reads this stupid thread (including my stupid self) and gets discouraged by the "circular firing squad" that "Duke the political genius" and the "Insiders" started. to drink.

  • Kevin (unverified)

    Hey guys

    Take a breath...this is NOT about one thing over another winning campaigns. It is all about ALL the things it takes to win campaigns.

    Money, mail, ads (sometimes), volunteers (always), and a hard wrorking candidate. I remember at the bus retreat some guy was saying you could win on $10 a day...not even Ben with all his "Bus Buddies" could do that - look at his c&e's! And the last time I checked printers don't print for free, the USPS doesn't mail for free and food still costs someone $$ for the volunteers.

    My only point takes everything to win the hearts and minds and ultimately the votes of the citzens who are too busy, too tired and too fed up with BS to vote for a Bus guy like Ben or anyone else for that matter.


  • Chris (unverified)

    Christy - you really are enthralled with your view. Sorry but I worked on all those campaigns too. As I recall it was insiders that paid for the trips the bus took.

    I am not diminishing the work they did or the time it took and you should to do the same. Only some insiders deserted Bates - alot of insiders made a huge commitment. Do you want the address of the SOS so you can see how much $$ and from whom was pumped into every one of those races you outlined? If the Bus is successful in the future it will take a lot of $$ for gas, food and the beer after that everyone so enjoys - unless you can pay those bills too- you and everyone else better hope the "insiders" cotiue to give you their big $$$$.

    The insiders as you call them - also gave staff and volunteers to help with the Bus effort. We won all the races TOGETHER not as seperate entities.

    My momma told me not to bite the hand that feeds you. Well I for one will welcome the help of the insiders any time they want and I'll kiss their hands for helping.


  • Megan (unverified)

    Thanks Chris for the reminder that we are all in this together. the Bus, Labor, insiders and outsiders too if they want to join in.

    If we just become a club of Inside Kids on the Bus then what good are web? Don't we just become another resented group of "isiders" telling everyone else how great and wonderfully smart we are?

    I for one want to learn everything that everyone has done - that worked and most important - what did not work and why?

    To all you insiders out there - reading this drivel of self impoortance and apologetic crap - not all of us on the Bus hate you - some of us want to learn and work together with you so we can win together.

    When we win there is credit enough for all - when we lose we just lose - I for one want to win!


  • Jefferson Smith (unverified)

    The insider-outsider division is a bit of a red herring. Let's just get a lot of people working for the public interest -- and encouraging a lot more people to do it. And then let's encourage some more.

    The lil kids should try to learn from the big kids. And the big kids should encourage the new kids.

    <h2>It seems to me that I remember something from Rodney King....</h2>

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