Maurer concedes, blames Oregon GOP for loss

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

In the super-close race for state superintendent of public instruction, Rep. Ron Maurer (R-Grants Pass) has conceded the race to Susan Castillo. Castillo has 50.02% of the vote - and a lead of 2500+ votes. The vote will be certified later today.

Over the Capitol Currents blog, public radio reporter Chris Lehman has more reaction from Maurer:

I asked him if he felt like he had gotten enough support during the race, especially from the Republican Party. ... Maurer told me he thinks the Oregon Republican Party should have a "serious conversation about how they are going to approach non-partisan races in the future." Maurer says he thinks as little as $10,000 in additional funding could have made a huge difference. And he says if any polling had been done on this race, and presumably showed how close it was, then perhaps some donors would have stepped up near the end.

Now, losing candidates always feel like a bit more money would have made the difference (though Maurer's probably right, having only spent $74k statewide) - and they often blame party infrastructure, rather than their own performance.

What I find fascinating is that, apparently, Maurer couldn't be bothered to run a poll in his own race. I've certainly never been involved in any statewide race that didn't include at least one baseline poll. You gotta figure out where you're strong and where you need to work.

Which leads to more interesting analysis from the O's Jeff Mapes, who notes that Maurer outperformed Gordon Smith in the Democratic-leaning parts of the state, but underperformed Smith in GOP-leaning areas:

Maurer made much bigger inroads into Multnomah County than did Smith. In fact, if you told a Republican candidate in a statewide race that he or she would take 39 percent of the vote in Multnomah County, they'd gleefully say they were certain to sweep to victory. ...

So given all that, where did Maurer lose the election? Ironically enough, for a Republican candidate he seriously under-performed in Eastern Oregon.

If Maurer had more money, he might have been able to do a better job of getting his name out among ideologically like-minded voters in Eastern Oregon.

Campaign tactics and strategies matter. Failing to run a poll in a statewide race is just political malpractice.

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    I wonder if Castillo ran a poll? I know almost everyone I talked to was very surprised at how close the race was. I wonder if she and her campaign were equally surprised...

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    Maurer was a stealth candidate. If he had had any higher profile he would have lost by a much larger margin. Oregonians are discouraged about education and education funding, and Castillo took this race for granted. But Oregonians are not ready to have their schools turned over to a fundamentalist bible -thumper who believes the book of Genesis is a science text, and who wants guns in our schools.

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    "Maurer couldn't be bothered to run a poll in his own race"

    How costly are statewide polls?

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    If the GOP hadn't purged the reasonable leadership in their party, the likes of Norma Paulus, maybe they would be winning these elections against weak opponents in statewide offices. Now all they have is the lunatic corps to call on.

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    If not running a poll in this race was "political malpractice" then perhaps the offending candidate saw himself less a politician than an educator.

    Just like oil and water shouldn't mix in the Gulf, perhaps politics and education shouldn't mix here.

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