Westlund for Treasurer?

Willamette Week had this tantalizing tidbit this week.

Westlund is considering a 2008 run for state treasurer

He used to be a conservative Republican. Now, he's a maverick independent. He barnstormed the state campaigning against measures 41 and 48, and endorsed Governor Ted Kulongoski's re-election.

Would you support him? As an independent? As a Democrat? Does it matter?

Incidentally, the current state treasurer - Randall Edwards - is term-limited and the seat is open in 2008.


  • LT (unverified)

    State Treasurer sounds like a good job for a former Ways and Means chair. Of all the other legislators who have been elected to that position, which one had that background?

  • Becky (unverified)

    On Thom Hartman's show this morning, Westlund didn't sound at all like someone who was interested in the State Treasurer job. Rather, he sounded like someone who wants to continue to serve in the State Senate. He said is not the "administrator type" and likes being out there mixing it up and working on legislation. Maybe he was begin coy, but honestly, I'd hate to see him waste his talent in the State Treasurer's job. If he really must move up to statewide elective office at this time, why not Secretary of State? He has a strong interest in the initiative process. From there, he could move to governor or, better yet for the activist type, a replacement for Gordon Smith.

  • LT (unverified)

    Having followed Westlund's career from his first session, when was he "conservative" in the Oregon House conservatives only speak out on fringe issues and otherwise let leadership do their thinking for them sense?

    Such labels (unless made as a differential, as in "not one of us therefore a conservative" as many Republicans use the term liberal) really don't mean much these days. Besides, are Sen. Elect-Webb and Tester "conservative" Democrats because they aren't NE liberals?

    Westlund DOES represent a district E. of the Cascades, not in Portland.

    I heard this commentary yesterday and it was very interesting. Fresh Air from WHYY, November 16, 2006 ยท The election results didn't just reshuffle the Congress -- they also got people debating the meanings of the labels people use to map out the political spectrum. Our linguist Geoff Nunberg has been thinking about what's in a label. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6496952

  • Garrett (unverified)

    I'd be supportive of Westlund against Gordo if he would make clear who he would caucus with. I just want to see him be a changed man in the legislature rather than in an election. Unfortunately Westlund running as an I in that race will probably do nothing more than make either himself or the Dem running a spoiler.

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    I would like to take issue with the "conservative" label. As someone who has worked for Ben for three years, I can attest that he has made a transformation, but he was never a religious conservative.

    I used to visit my legislators with planned parenthood back in the 97 and 99 sessions and of the three electeds that I met with, Ben was the most approachable and easy to talk with. Given new information he was willing to change his mind. And most importantly, I always felt listened to...actually represented, it's what turned me into a Ben fan many years ago.

    My other region's legislator was Tim Knopp, a true conservative. Believe me, even when Ben was a Republican, he was always reasonable. His change isn't really that his views have changed it's that after cancer, he found the courage to stand up for what was right, even if it was unpopular. I also believe it helped him be more open-minded and empathetic.

    With regards to all this conjecture about what Ben is running for in the future, I can tell you that right now he is only focused on the next session, not his next election.

    He and Dr. Senator Alan Bates are working on a plan to extend health care to all Oregonians, he's working on renewable energy proposals and has been meeting with a group of legislators to find a solution for our tax structure. He is interested in election reform including open primary and initiative integrity.

    As campaign nuts, we may be looking for a new fix right now but Ben Westlund is just looking forward to the next session and some real solutions.

    Visit his website and sign up for his email newsletter if you want to get his session updates.

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    Edwards is term-limited?

    I didn't think there were term-limits for statewide elected officials. AG Myers is currently in his third term...

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    Does anyone think that Ben actually has the background to be Treasurer? The Treasurer is a banking and investment job, not a CFO, budget manager, or controller. While Ben is a person of integrity and obviously familiar with the political process, as far as I know neither his experience in the legislature nor on the farm prepares him for the job of state treasurer.

  • josh reynolds (unverified)

    Eugene Weekly had a rumor piece on Sid Leiken possibly being the republican candidate in 2008. I believe he is a bank VP, or was, and is involved in his family's investment company.

  • mike (unverified)

    He's a smart guy, and he did co-sponsor SB1000. I'd want to see who else throws their hat in the ring before we get all giddy about Ben, however.

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    As I posted in a comment over on Loaded Orygun, on speculation about Westlund running against Smith in '08 and after doing a quick glance at wikipedia on him:

    "During the 2004 election, Westlund endorsed Oregon Ballot Measure 36 (2004), which outlawed same-sex marriage in Oregon.[6] He subsequently endorsed a bill in the legislature to allow civil unions. That effort was defeated in part thanks to opposition by Speaker of the House Karen Minnis, wife of the officer who arrested Westlund in 1982. Westlund supports abortion rights and access to the morning-after pill. During his time in the legislature, however, he has supported restrictions on abortion. In 2003 he backed HB2547 and in 2005 he backed HB2532. Both would have created a 24-hour waiting period for women wishing to receive an abortion and required doctors to read a statement to patients about abortion. In 2005, he also supported HB2605, a parental notification bill, and HB2020, which would have expanded Oregon's criminal homicide law, redefining "human beings" to include fetuses and embryos at any stage of development."

    Ok... I have some minor problems with his opposition to same-gender marriage but can live with it since he also supported civil-unions (separate and unequal simply doesn't cut it, but as I said, I can over-look that at the moment since it is better than Smith and somewhat the median position of many on our side of the aisle as well but seriously calls into question his quoting the 14th amendment on his website on the issue of civil rights. If he is serious about that, then he would acknowledge that CUs are at best, a step in the right direction but not the end goal of actually getting equal rights for all).

    That said, his advocacy of the most regressive form of taxes (sales tax) and his schizophrenic position on abortion is troubling. He will need to get his position clear and consistent and explain his prevarication on that one before he gets a serious consideration from me should he seek to run against Smith.

    HIs drunk driving and drug possession arrest is also a black spot, though he seems to have put that behind him, though that would need to be clearly and proactively addressed because we know the GOp will take the low-road to keep power if need be.

    All that said, I would need to learn more about his positions before I, as a Democrat would consider supporting his run at Smith or anythign else should he choose to ,and that would also weigh who the Democrats themselves were putting up (failing Westlund not moving into the Ds all the way).

    To be honest, I know very little about him, but at first blush he is interesting. That he hails from east of the Cascades yet seems to be progressive and backed Ted in the last election would make him an appealing candidate if he is an actual progressive/populist economically, and libertarian/liberal on social issues (big ifs so far).

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    I would like to take issue with the "conservative" label. As someone who has worked for Ben for three years, I can attest that he has made a transformation, but he was never a religious conservative.

    Stacy... You're the first person in this thread to use the word "religious." No one said he was a religious conservative. There's no reason now to get into all the various policy positions, but suffice to say that while he may have been reasonable and open to new info, he was - at least back then - a conservative.

    I am, for one, glad to see that he's seeing the light.

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    Andrew asked: Edwards is term-limited? I didn't think there were term-limits for statewide elected officials. AG Myers is currently in his third term...

    Yes, Edwards is term-limited. Article VI, Section 1 limits the Treasurer and Secretary of State to the same limit as the governor -- eight years in a row. (Actually, any eight out of a period of twelve, but you that's basically a two term limit.)

    Those are the limits on constitutional officers. The statutory officers - Attorney General, Supt of Public Instruction, and Labor Commissioner - have no term limits.

  • JB (unverified)

    I heard the KPOJ interview today and Ben's comments seemed to indicate he had no interest in the treasurer's job -- that he likes policy making, not administration. He also seemed to indicate he might eventually become a Democrat. Putting two and two together, it sounded to me like Ben might be planning to run for Governor in 2010 as a Democrat.

  • JHL (unverified)

    I think, Kari, that Stacey was using the word "religious" as a secular adjective... such as:

    The obsessive-compulsive blogger religiously read Blue Oregon every two hours.

    Using the word in that manner and re-reading that paragraph, it sounds like she was simply stating that his conservative views back then were not the result of a reflex towards the Republican line, but that we was open to new information and kept an open mind.

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    les, regarding your concern about Westlund "advocating the most regressive form of tax." (sales tax.)

    I agree with you that sales tax is generally regressive, and to be avoided. But from where I sit, Westlund is one of the few legislators with the political courage to take on the arcane and crippling revenue structure our state currently has.

    Westlund (along with Senators Morse, Deckert, Schrader - do you hold them all to the same standard?) is currently advocating a system that includes, among other things, a sales tax. The overall package has many benefits - among them, an overall easing of the tax burden in lower-income brackets. In other words, progressive - not regressive.

    If you have a better approach, what is it? If you don't, does your simplistic dismissal of Westlund's approach mean you're happy with the current tax structure?

    <h2>Cherry-picking pieces of the plan does not help evaluate its overall effect, and is therefore not useful in evaluating the motives or integrity of its proponents.</h2>
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