More Election Day thoughts

Charlie Burr

Like most of you, I've spent the past few hours waiting... and waiting... and making a few last minute calls to friends and family in key states. Basically, bouncing off the walls. Last year, I chose to support Obama as our best hope to redraw our electoral map and elect Democrats up and down the ballot. I haven't been disappointed. From September:

Every four years, the phrase bounces around election eve phone banks across the country: "This could be the closest election in our lifetime."

But a close election is the wrong way to think about our chances next year. With the right candidate and the right message, Democrats can win and win BIG. That's one of the reasons I’m supporting Senator Barack Obama for President.

More than any other candidate, Obama represents the best hope to move beyond the “fifty-plus-one” parity elections of the last two presidential cycles.

I am incredibly excited for tonight and so proud of the millions of volunteers who built something incredible from the ground up. And while we have a good idea who the next president will be, the degree to which local races and candidates take advantage of this landscape will make for a fascinating night. Here are some of the races I'll be looking at below.

1. Brent Barton vs. Linda Flores

This match-up is an important one to watch for House Dems. Although Dave Hunt and Future PAC will pick up seats just about no matter what, a win in Clackamas County by Barton -- one of the hardest working candidates of the cycle, by the way -- will be a pretty good indication that Oregon Democrats are in for a BIG night.

2. The Oregon League of Conservation Voters' Green Majority candidates

More than most groups, the enviros at OLCV are doing a remarkable job not only taking full advantage of opportunities for gains in the House, but also providing on-the-ground grassroots support for many under-the-radar races around the state. During the primary, OLCV won 93 percent of their targets. Of particular interest tonight is the Kitty Piercy/Jim Torrey race, which appears too close to call. If Torrey prevails, expect him to be a major player in Republicans' attempts to rise from the ashes. More from OLCV here.

3. The 2nd Congressional District

Walden will win certainly; although my keen eye for the obvious remains honed as ever. But Obama's 2nd CD performance, Walden's undervote, and overall turnout in the district will be worth paying attention to. For Oregon Democrats, this seat really remains unfinished business. Tonight might provide a few indicators of how quickly the district is changing. Also of note, Walden may be Oregon's highest-ranking Republican official before the night is over. Let's hope.

4. Jeff Merkley

Kari did a nice wrap-up earlier, but let me add that it's my strong feeling that Jeff Merkley will be our next U.S. Senator. Jeff's closing spot was about as artfully done as anything this cycle and ultimately, Smith is really doing battle with basic laws of gravity here. Our feelings about Gordon Smith are well-documented here at Blue Oregon, but suffice it to say this one will warrant dancing-in-the-streets celebration if/when Jeff pulls it off. I like our chances. A lot.

5. Silly California initiatives

True to the tradition of unintended consequences, the hyper-ambitious yet deeply flawed Proposition 7 could actually represent a step back for efforts to expand our sources of clean energy. Along with California's League of Conservation Voters, NRDC and other leading enviornmental groups, I'm pulling for this one to go down tonight before it ever gets a chance to migrate across the Oregon border.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shout out and nod of appreciation to Oregon's vote-by-mail system. I voted against Keisling's Measure 65 this year, but I appreciate the work that Phil and other supporters did back in 1998 to put Oregon's voting systems ahead of the curve. We sometimes take Oregon's innovation and safeguards for granted, but each story I hear about six hour voting lines or phony election flyers makes me more convinced that our country needs to get serious about modernizing our voting systems. If that means expanding vote by mail, I'm all for it.

Because what we have in the other 49 states ain't cutting it.

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    Let me echo your sentiments about Barton. I'm vested in that race..and tears of joy if Brent pulls it out.

    And my love for Merkley goes without saying. If/when Jeff wins this U.S. Senate seat..I'm absolutely overwhelmed.


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