Mapes: Day out as GOP Chair. Snodgrass and Tiernan in.

Carla Axtman

Jeff Mapes has a story in the O today, reporting that current Oregon GOP Chair Vance Day has decided not to run for reelection:

Vance Day, a Salem lawyer who has headed the party since 2005, initially planned to run for re-election but has recently told Republican activists he won't seek another term.

That leaves former State Rep Bob Tiernan and former House Speaker Lynn Snodgrass to battle it out.

I'm still learning about these two, as their historical spotlight in Oregon politics was prior to my engagement. Mapes' writeup on the dynamics of the two candidates is sufficient but not comprehensive.

I've heard grumblings among some GOP movers and shakers that neither of these two are especially prepared to lead the party back into the good graces of Oregonians. Another name that's been tossed around that I've heard is Tim Phillips, a Portland investment guy. Ironically, he's quoted in Mapes' story:

Portland investment adviser Tim Phillips, a former congressional candidate active in efforts to revive the Republican brand in Oregon, said the new chair will have the tough job of proving that he or she is putting the party on the right track before donors will loosen their wallets.

"The business community has invested year in and year out, and now we're pretty intent on saying, 'Show us a plan,'" said Phillips. "We won't invest in an organization that is stuck on stupid."

I don't know this guy, but he gives good quote.

The Dorchester Conference has the potential for some awesome political theatre this year.

  • (Show?)

    Snodgrass and Tiernan will not help the GOP change their image in Oregon. My impression of Tiernan is that he is just plain mean. That may be unfair since my contacts have been limited, but I don't see him resonating with either the public or the Portland business community where the funds must come from to re-finance the party. Snodgrass has more personal appeal, but strikes me as someone who has made a lot more enemies than friends.

  • Chris Snethen (unverified)

    Both Tiernan and Snodgrass would be fantastic. And by "fantastic", I mean trainwreck. One loves busting on unions, the other loves anything faith based. They're poster children for what went wrong for the party in Oregon. That either is a serious candidate for the top post goes to show how bereft of new faces the Oregon GOP has become.

  • Murphy (unverified)

    You know, I’m beginning to believe that there isn’t a thing the Oregon GOP can do about its unfortunate predicament.

    Save one:

    Unless and until the party moderates its far-right views and/or jettisons its far-right members (let them wallow in self-pity over at the Constitutional party) it will never be competitive in the (sub)urban areas of Oregon (AKA “Where the Voters Live”).

    Using the current vernacular, Oregon is a center-left state. Why, then, are conservative baffled when they lose elections? On top of this, their shills in local right-wing media (Larson, Jeff Krupp, Rob Kremer, Hictoria Daft, etc.) play a constant rift of anti-government rhetoric: “Government Gone Wild” -- “Government is the Problem” -- “Government is the enemy” -- “Government can do nothing right” (except kick the snot out of some little Arab country).

    Why do conservatives expect people to give them the reins of government when they make it clear everyday that they hate the horses?

    That said, Snethen is spot on about these two: they'd be a disaster for the GOP (not that it could get much worse).

    Therefore we ought to encourage 'em.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Why do conservatives expect people to give them the reins of government when they make it clear everyday that they hate the horses?

    The attitude is very appealing to those that believe that the horses exist for no other reason than to be ridden and ridden hard, by creatures of infinitely greater civil, spiritual and evolutionary superiority.

    It's bad when a developer like Phillips looks good (and he does).

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    So, it's the corporatists vs. the theocons. This is the renewal of the Republican brand??

  • LT (unverified)

    For those who talk about "traditional values", it doesn't go back much further than Aesop's Fables, and the Fable of the Wind and the Sun has a moral about persuasion in the end being more powerful than coercion.

    Most famous thing about Speaker Snodgrass: announcement "our caucus has decided on a number for school funding". No hearings needed--the majority caucus made the decision and that was that.

    As I recall (besides co-sponsoring at least one measure with Sizemore which was later thrown out by the court), Tiernan's claims to fame incl. publicly throwing out someone's prepared testimony at a committee meeting.

    Just plain mean about says it. Richard Devlin, now Senate Maj. Leader, was the Democrat who defeated Tiernan. His election night remarks to the press (very low key but powerful) were along the lines of "It seems the voters of this district thought it was time for a representative with good manners" or something like that.

    If the purpose of the GOP is to "appeal to the base", either of these candidates would do it--and doom the party to losing elections unless they had really good candidates who could overcome the party "brand".

    by Jack Roberts talks about a more intelligent Republican Party.

  • Tom Soppe (unverified)

    Snodgrass vs. Tiernan= The fat version of Sarah Palin vs. the younger version of Bob Dornan.

  • YoungOregonMoonBat (unverified)

    Just as State Senator Larry George (R-Sherwood) said to Willamette Week:

    “What you could say right now is, Republicans tend to circle the wagons and shoot toward the middle."

    It will take Republicans to run a losing candidate who is unabashedly conservative to change their ways and open up to what Huckabee calls the "mushy" middle. Conservative Republicans will argue that they have caved into the Portland Metro and Willamette Valley interests to run what they consider "centrist" candidates such as Kevin Mannix, Ron Saxton, and John McCain.

    They will learn when the Jason Atkinson, the conservative darling of NW Republican, Victoria Taft, and others, runs for Governor in 2010 and gets his ass handed back to him in 20 different ways.

    Just you wait and see. 2010 will be the reckoning for the wingnuts when their candidate runs, is lambasted in the media for having fringe values with little legislative accomplishments, and loses handily to someone of the caliber of DeFazio, Bradbury or Kitzhaber.

  • (Show?)

    YOMB may be right. i've seen analyses saying the Rs are not in that bad of shape because Alley & Dancer did well. but they were moderates, one running against a Dem many Oregonians had never heard of and the other running against one of those evil Portland Liberals. it would be great to see the Rs run a hard-core neocon and have them get squashed. this is Oregon, though, and we have an odd electorate. what's far more important than the Rs running a bug to be squashed is for the Ds to continue to build a broad-based party and to run progressive candidates who will serve the entire constituency.

  • YoungOregonMoonBat (unverified)

    This may be a bit off topic, but it has everything to do with how the Oregon Republican Party and Oregon Democratic Party run their party operations.

    There are 3 clear front-runners for Governor in 2010 for both parties. The 3 for the Dems are: 1. Former Sec. of State Bill Bradbury, 2. Representative Peter DeFazio, and 3. Former Governor John Kitzhaber. The 3 for the Reps are: 1. State Senator Jason Atkinson, 2. Representative Greg Walden, and 3. Former Senator Gordon Smith. I will give my personal, general take on all 6.

    Lets start with the Democrats:

    First, Bill Bradbury is the strongest of the Democrat front-runners. He can point to a list of accomplishments as a former state executive including making the initiative process more transparent. Throw in the fact that he has a disability and the media will be more than scared to death of criticizing him.

    Second, Peter DeFazio is a name out there and he remains that to me. I just don't see DeFazio running with such clear majorities at the Federal level that give him the ability to influence real change for the USA. 2010 would be the optimal time for DeFazio to run due to his age. Candidates at or near age 70 are just not attractive to your uninformed voters who do vote on things such as looks and age.

    Third, Kitzhaber is and will always be a force in Oregon politics. That being said, the question that will dog Kitzhaber is, "What have you done in the past 7 years since you left office?" If Kitzhaber can answer that question with a list of accomplishments, then he is a very viable candidate.

    Lets discuss the Republicans:

    First, Jason Atkinson is the young, conservative darling of the Oregon GOP. He has run before, but lost in the primary. The base of the Oregon Republicans would love him, but would his values sell in Willamette Valley and the Portland Metro Area (Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties) where 42% of Oregon's population reside?

    Second, Greg Walden is of prime age and supremely situated to make a serious run. He is the most viable of the Republican candidates with a resume of legislative accomplishments. The question for him is, "Do I want to give up my safe legislative seat and run for Governor in a year where the Democrats will be fielding big name contenders?"

    Finally, Gordon Smith's name has been bandied about. He is as viable for a run as Greg Walden is. The question with Smith is, "Can he gain the support of the base to win the primary?"

    Time will tell who runs for both sides. That is just my take on the early names being whispered out there.

  • (Show?)

    Dumb and pious versus smart and mean.

  • LT (unverified)

    "Alley & Dancer did well. but they were moderates..."

    I'm sorry, but I knew McCall, Clay Myers, Norma Paulus, Nancy Ryles, Mary Alice Ford in their prime.

    THEY were moderates.

    Alley and Dancer were newcomers with not a lot of knowledge of the jobs they were applying for. I saw one debate on TV where Westlund corrected Alley on a point of fact about community banks. One line in a Dancer ad was about "co-mingling of funds" which sounded suspiciously like a line from a Sizemore ballot measure.

    Kroger may have been an outsider, but a former prosecutor running for AG is less of a stretch than what Dancer and Alley were trying to do.

    Back in the day, not having expertise and not being an ideological extremist was not the definition of "moderate"---which sounds like a way of saying "not Sizemore, not religious right".

    Except for Clay Myers, all the abovementioned Republicans were legislators at one time in their lives.

    When someone would mention Westlund's W & M experience, Alley would say "Westlund is fine if you want a legislator in this job" in a derisive tone of voice. What is "moderate" about that?

    Republicans like to talk about being the party of business, but anyone in business knows that if the customer doesn't like the product, they are not required to buy.

    If average voters look at most Republicans these days and say "sorry, not buying that", choosing between Snodgrass and Tiernan for GOP chair is not going to win elections in 2010 unless they are smart enough to get some new blood---the likes of Max Williams, Frank Morse, Jack Roberts and others who put solving problems above ideology.

  • JJ (unverified)

    Tiernan was one of those morons who spent the past year attacking Gordon Smith for not being "republican enough". I dont doubt that he's foolish enough to blame Smith's loss on the fact that he didn't "carry the base". If this guy is handed the keys to the party, it's not only dead, it's burried with cement under a parking lot somewhere never to be seen again.
    As a Republican myself (insert troll remark here), let me be clear to those in my party who remain confused. The days of running to the hard right, making abortion and strict partisanship cornerstones of our agenda, are dead..and if you're too stupid to understand why..don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out..we don't want you and we don't need you...go play in traffic with Dave Brownlow.. I consider myself a conservative, but running a party to attract loser candidates who can't win will do nothing to advance any of the core Republican principles. If you need an example, look at the Smith-Merkley race. John McCain lost this state by 17 points, Smith lost by 3 points. And in all reality, in any other year, without the biggest Dem wave this state has ever seen, Smith wins in a landslide. Why? Because he has cross appeal..some to the right, a lot in the middle and some to the left. This is how Republicans win in Oregon. Packwood, Hatfiled, Smith..all ran as moderates, all have repeatedly won statewide office. This is the way forward and the only way forward. Step one is getting there..once we are in office, we will take our ideas over the other side any day..bc when it's strictly about ideas, we win 9 out 10 times. But sitting on the sidelines just hurts us, our state and our nation with every minute that goes by. We live in a fairly blue state..for now..but things change and we can shift the tide back in our least a bit. Not to pick a fight here a Blue O..but im pretty certain that in 6 years there will be another good shot at the Senate seat..Merkley will probably be primaried out by one of the truly viable Dems who are kicking themselves for not running this time...(let's be honest folks..I am a Republican and I would like to see a qualified GOPer in that seat..but with all the Dems in this state..good, qualified Dems..Merkley, as intellectually and ethically challenged as he is, is pretty embarrassing and Oregon's one night stand with this guy can't end soon enough)..but the GOP could take it back if we have a candidates and a party that has cross appeal...this aint rocket science and whoever heads up this party absolutely must understand this...

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Jan 8, 2009 6:02:58 PM

    Dumb and pious versus smart and mean.

    The realities of late are having more of a feel of cultural change than political, though that's a necessarily a by-product. Kind of like trying to tell if it's an emotional psychosis screwing up thinking, or a cognitive psychosis affecting emotions. I think the politics is a side-effect, which goes to the arguments about "why they voted with us".

  • LT (unverified)

    JJ, I started to agree with you until you said "Smith lost by 3 points. And in all reality, in any other year, without the biggest Dem wave this state has ever seen, Smith wins in a landslide. Why? Because he has cross appeal.."

    I remember Sen. President Gordon Smith. He was a mixture of slick and statesmanlike.

    When I decided to vote 3rd party in Nov. 1996 for US Senate, I became one of those people who put Gordon Smith in the US Senate.

    Over time, although he did some good things, there seemed to be more slick than statesman. Every year I go to Wyden's town hall in Marion County if I can possibly make it. How many such appearances like that did Gordon make in 2008--no admittance fee, well advertised, everyone welcome and allowed to ask about anything in the voting record or public statements?

    I campaigned for Tom McCall's re-election and voted Gerald Ford for President in 1976. I admired Gov. Atiyeh even if I didn't always agree with him. There are lots of Oregonians like me as well as a growing number of people who don't register with a major party. Do Republicans want our votes?

    BTW, Gordon always said he never forgot he had taken Mark Hatfield's Senate seat. As someone who first heard Mark Hatfield speak decades ago, I have to disagree with JJ on Merkley. Merkley is the one who interned with Hatfield, and from everything I have seen, Merkley is closer to the spirit of Sen. Hatfield than Smith. And Hatfield was closer to the spirit of Charles McNary (whose longevity record as a US Senator from Oregon he only beat by a year or 2) than Gordon Smith.

    Gordon Smith was more in tune with the spirit of the 1994-2004 Republican party than Hatfield's party. Although that last re-election campaign was a low point for Hatfield, he was never the Gingrich/Rove "we're better than the opposition because we say so" shallow Republican.

    Now, if there is a young candidate like Max Williams who takes on Merkley when he comes up for re-election, that would be a case of 2 qualified candidates competing for our votes.

  • (Show?)

    JJ makes a bunch of good points about the GOP, but then there's this:

    Merkley, as intellectually and ethically challenged as he is, is pretty embarrassing

    That's a conclusion without a supporting argument. I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone suggest that he's dumb.

    JJ, would you mind at least telling us what the charge is, so that we can argue about it? In what way is Jeff Merkley "intellectually challenged"? And in what way is Jeff Merkley "ethically challenged"?

  • JJ (unverified)


    I'm happy to clarify my remarks about Merkley. On the ethics comment..I think there is plenty of info out there on that one. He raised money during session when his own rules prohibited it..he ran those absurd "issue ads" to skirt Federal election law (which by the way will be a big problem for him when the FEC rules against him and issues a $1.5 million fine..and they will)..he doled out $100 million in taxpayer money for union pay raises..and received a half million dollar ad buy from those same unions a week later..he went on a taxpayer funded trip to Israel and didn't report it, he lied to his donors about his position on the middle east conflict and changed course once he cashed their checks, he ran a shady and dirty landlord operation documented by WW, opposed charter schools but tried to get his own kids into one..i mean the list goes on and may like the guy, but he has quite a history of being on the wrong side of ethical standards (especially when money is involved)..and unless he makes serious changes in own character now that he's in Washington...I imagine things will only get worse for this guy...which is very bad news for our state...

    On his intellect..I expect to disagree with Merkley on a lot of I said, I am a Republican and he is a partisan liberal Democrat. That's fine..but there is sort of a minimum core understanding of issues that effect our state and our nation and a basic ability to engage in independent thinking that I expect a US Senator to have..and Merkley doesn't seem to have it.
    He doesn't seem to understand the fundamental impact that free trade has on the very state he represents (opposes CAFTA and NAFTA..despite the fact that Oregon is one of the most trade dependent states in the nation..has he ever heard of Nike or the number of Oregonians it employs??). Wyden gets it..Merkley does not.
    Merkley says he wants to champion alternative energy but at the same time, he wants to rip out our hydro-electric if he sees no connection between the makes no sense at all and makes people question his intelligence.. Merkley campaigned on a "cut taxes on 95% of Americans" platform (which he cut and pasted from Obama)..but which also directly contradicted his own record of consistently voting to raise taxes on all taxpayers in Oregon over the last decade. If he's a true believer in higher taxes..fine..stick to it and make you arguments..but when he flips on major issues like that and seems to make conflicting arguments about how they will effect our economy, he once again looks a puppet just doing what he's told not a leader or a thinker.. In ten years in the legislature, he never broke with his own party to side with a majority of Republicans..ever..not one single independent vote in ten years...that's astonishing to me. In the US senate, Wyden has broke with his party many times..even voting against Habeas Corpus rights for GITMO may not like that vote but at least it shows some independent thinking...and God knows Smith broke with his party many times too...Merkley seems to be on auto pilot..not much independent thinking of any kind at all. You may disagree..but i dont get the sense that he's a very sharp guy and I think when it's time to measure up to other Dems in this state or potentially a qualified Republican in 6 years...Merkley won't make the cut...he's no ron wyden, he's no peter defazio and he's no gordon smith...all those guys could do the job...Merkley looks like an accident that our state will have to suffer through until his term is up...

    Feel free to sure you do..but you asked, so there are my thoughts...

  • JJ (unverified)

    LT, I'm not following your point on Merkley being closer to the spirit of Hatfield than Smith was. I would agree that Smith was more conservative than Hatfield (which was fine with me), but Gordon Smith broke with his party on major issues (War, ANWR, Gay Rights, Medicaid) repeatedly... he was clearly one of the most independent minded GOP senators to serve in the last decade. In stark contrast, Merkley never ever breaks to the right of his party, never crosses the aisle. He is a very very liberal and partisan Democrat, which he has every right to be...but to compare him to an independent/bi-partisan legislator like Hatfield, Packwood or Smith just doesn't seem to make sense. He did intern for Hatfield, but I think the connection between the stops there.
    I do agree with you that it will take a GOP candidate like Max Williams or Scott Bruun or a return of Gordon Smith to give the GOP a shot at a statewide seat. This is Oregon not matter how much trouble Democrats get themselves into in this state or at the federal level, Dems now have a 200,000 plus registration advantage here...only a mainstream, moderate Republican will be able to overcome that in an election.
    My prediction: 2014 Gordon Smith (who will not run for guv) takes out Jeff Merkley and returns to the Senate. Kari, I hope you archive this stuff in case i turn out to be right...

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)

    It seems there is a large faction in the cult of conservatism that believes, 'conservatism, the ideology cannot fail, you can only fail conservatism.' And as long as they continue to believe this they will fail.

    "If we only pushed harder on those losing issues, we would of won." Right.........

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    There is no consensus among the Rs about what conservatism or Republicanism is. There is the Ayn Rand libertarian crowd who think that government is the enemy and should be dispensed with, except to protect private property. There is the dominionist crowd who want to capture govt. and make it the instrument of their imposition of a radical fundamentalist theocracy, and there is the corporatist crowd, who think that govt. should be the servant of robber baron capitalism.

    Once upon a time in America there was the Rockefeller wing of the Republican party,dominant in Oregon, that saw a rationally based paradigm for government with a sensible safety net, sensible separation of church and state, sensible regulation of business and markets, and a sensible, moderate foreign policy based on a rational protection of national interest. That wing is apparently dead forever and so is the Republican party unless it can recover the use of reason.

  • LT (unverified)

    JJ--you miss my point.

    Smith gave a famous speech against the war after the 2006 election and voted for the Webb-Hagel updated GI Bill. But did he ever sponsor legislation himself on those topics? And after saying the war verged on criminal, did he vote to cut off funding or otherwise question war policy? Or just the one big speech?

    Aside from the 1990 campaign, Hatfield never made snide remarks about opponents. Didn't Gordon say "Kerry can't help it he looks French"?

    Are you saying that if I looked it up there would be no legislation in Merkley's career which he co-sponsored a bill with any Republican or voted with Republicans on any issue?

    And can you truly ignore this:

    How do you think Merkley should have voted in 2003 on that?

    There was a level of graciousness, of contact with the general public, and of "my party doesn't think for me on this issue" moral backbone which many of us saw in Hatfield but rarely if ever in Smith. I say that as someone who voted 3rd party in Nov. 1996 and thus allowed Smith to get elected to the US Senate.

    People see things differently, but with minor exceptions it seemed to me that Smith was a pale shadow of Hatfield (a 1996 cartoon had Smith and Bruggere in one Hatfield shoe with room left over).

  • JJ (unverified)


    As for Smith's record..yes he did walk the walk on Iraq..he voted more than ten times against funding the war if there was no time-line for withdrawal...and was often the only member of his party to do so..not even Hagel went that far. Smith also did his share of authoring bills opposed by his party..such as the 7 hate crimes bills he authored and introduced with Ted Kennedy...the guy was very moderate in many of his views..just ask the far right zealots who wouldn't support him this time around because of it.

    <h2>As for Merkley..sure he sponsored bills with Republicans..all members of the legislature sign on to bills with bipartisan support. What Merkley never ever did was actually break with his party..that against a majority of Democrats and with a majority of Republicans..on anything, ever. He said so himself. Not once time in ten years did he think his party got it wrong and the other party had it right..not once. That is what i mean when i say he doesn't fit the mold of an independent, bi-partisan legislator. During his campaign Merkley used to say that Oregon had net-zero representation in the Senate because Smith was a Republican and Wyden was a Democrat..and Smith was muting the voice of Oregon's citizens by voting differently from Wyden....he said this as though there were no Republicans in this state and that when Smith voted with his party he was voting against all of Oregon..which says quite a bit about Merkley's views of the Republicans in this's as if they don't count as people to him. The reality is that Wyden and Smith voted together more than they voted apart..Merkley would point to the 1700 time they voted differently..ignoring the 2000 times they voted the same way...but i digress. My point is simply that Merkley will rightly represent a very partisan and very liberal group of people in this state very well..but he is not and has never been a bipartisan legislator..he toes the party line every time, right or wrong....and that is truly unfortunate...</h2>

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