OR-1: Romper Room

Carla Axtman

A more appropriate title for this blog post by Nigel Jacquiss at Willamette Week would be: Romper Room (for those of you too young to understand the reference, go here).


The campaigns of state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Beaverton) and state Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) canceled their plans to participate in the debate, set for Thursday night, because they had received uncomfirmed reports that Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian's campaign had been given the questions ahead of time.

The campaign for Avakain denied that, and said Bonamici, his chief rival in the race, was using a rumor as a way to duck facing Avakian in person.

The two campaigns said they had no evidence Avakian's camp had received the debate questions but were relying on reports that reached them.

This is pathetic.

In this very short primary, its a disservice to the people of the First Congressional District to lose such an important debate. Most people can't or don't get to the non-televised debates. This was a key opportunity for a whole bunch of voters to get a look at these candidates together. Bailing out on this is just unacceptable.

The idea that Avakian had the questions in advance is laughable, frankly. He's too damn honest for something like that. The campaigns that bailed on this debate have no evidence of it, either. If this were the real problem, then they could have insisted that a new slate of questions be developed by the TV station. There was plenty of time for it.

If anyone has a legitimate complaint about integrity of process in this, its the voters who are cheated of seeing these candidates together in such a high profile setting. This election isn't about THE CANDIDATES. It's about THE VOTERS. These campaigns would do well to remember that.

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        As a point of clarification, I am a member of the 1st CD delegation, was a member of the debate committee and work as staff for the WashCo Dems. Because of my position I have not backed a candidate in this race, neither openly nor privately, and have done my best to provide support to all of them.

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      Paulie - TWO campaigns decided not to debate. Avakian was NOT the one to hit the panic button. :-)

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        Sue - sorry for lack of clarity I am aware that 2 of the 3 campaigns chose not to debate. The campaign's are tough among good candidates. Let's hope they all set a high bar.

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    I smile as I write, that I find it interesting that Carla Axtman does what I think Kari himself oughta do. I think I saw an episode of The Rifle Man where Mark referred to this as "hiding behind a woman's skirt", but that's coming from a troll anyway.

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    You're right Carla, Portland Oregon is Romper Room. And, yes Mark, that is what they call hiding behind a woman's skirts. --Lucas

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    I don't personally know the man Carla but your statement:

    "The idea that Avakian had the questions in advance is laughable, frankly. He's too damn honest for something like that]"

    Appears to fly in the face of some of the recent bad press on this man ...namely that at the age of 50 he is still paying off his student loans, has been sued by collectors four times for failure to pay bills he incurred, has twice failed to pay his taxes - once accruing a $13,000 tax lien - AND was briefly suspended from the state bar for failing to pay his dues...a person paying or not paying his bills to the point of a lawsuit being filed and all of the rest are serious integrity issues on my scorecard. Several of my progressive co workers and I have all reconsidered Avakian and have decided to support Bonnamici instead. As far as I know she hasn't suffered from any of those types of ethical lapses.

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      Wait..so anyone who chooses public service over financial gain is dishonest?


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      Nice to see Ms. Bonamici's supporters taking the high road and honoring her pledge to stay there.

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    The Oregonian editorial page just endorsed Bonamici. Which is a good reason not to vote for her.

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    Canceling a debate appearance based on unsubstantiated rumors? Aren't we veering into Michelle Bachmann- "Some woman told me HOV vaccines cause mental retardation" territory here?

    I'm just a little concerned that as the Democratic candidates/ campaigns tear each other up, Rob Cornilles will walk into a Congressional seat.

    And @Stephen Michael- You make a pretty good point re: Oregonian editorial page. Pretty much 95% of what they published should be viewed in an "Opposite Day" type of lens. But then I read an editorial last week that lambasted the upsurge of Voter ID laws and how they disenfranchise legitimate voters, so not everything they write can be dismissed out-of-hand. Just most of what they write....

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      Ha ha. "HOV vaccines." Yes, that's what we need- vaccines against high-occupancy vehicles.

      Funnily enough, someone like Bachmann would actually think HOVs are a problem & need to be vaccinated. After all, if God didn't want us all driving 10 mpg SUVs, then why did he create them...?

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    Well, it looks like Bonamici is picking up endorsements and cash as FEC election reports are now online for period ending 9/30/2011.

    For the Democrats:

    Suzanne Bonamici raised $600,404, including $200,000 personal loan to her campaign. She has $451,872 cash on hand.

    Brad Avakian raised $378,678 and has $108,871 cash on hand.

    Brad Witt raised $63,977 and has $23,245 cash on hand.

    For Republicans:

    Rob Cornilles raised $505,556 and has $437,304 cash on hand.

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      I'm sure it is a very difficult and complex process. Most big events with lots of moving parts are. But the campaigns who backed out are the ones saying that they did so because they heard unsubstantiated rumors that Avakian had the questions in advance (and Witt's campaign consultant said something about not being invited to one meeting on "ground rules").

      I strongly disagree that losing this "probably not important for the voters". Of course it is. Very few people (relative to the number of voters in CD-1) will see those non-televised debates. Losing one of the two is robbing voters of a very important opportunity.

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        I'd imagine very few people will watch the debates anyway. But yes, they are important opportunities and it's a shame to lose one.

        The campaign that had the most to gain from the debates was Witt's, as it has the fewest resources to communicate with voters in other ways. And yet his campaign decided the concerns were serious enough to back away.

        The rumors aren't necessarily an implication about Avakian's character himself. There are lots of people involved in the campaigns, including lots of passionate volunteers. The idea that one of those scores of people might have the questions ahead of time seems within the bounds of possibility.

        Hopefully voters will work to make themselves informed in the many other possible ways, most of which are better served to quality in-depth information than television debates.

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          Evan: there's no evidence, as admitted by the campaigns, that any volunteer from Avakian (or anyone else's campaign) gave the questions to anyone other than the TV station and the debate organizers/moderators who were supposed to have them.

          While I think Rep. Witt is a nice man and certainly would be better than Wu, the campaign that would have the most to gain from a televised debate is Avakian. I've heard even from supporters of the other two leading candidates that Avakian has been outperforming them in public forums.

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      "...nearly successful in being relevant."???? Aren't you a member of this committee? Aren't you suppose to be making it relevant? Or is your $5000 contribution to Bonamici the only relevant thing?

      By pulling out of the debate at the last minute, it was the candidates that pulled out who said "Informed voters are irrelevant."

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    Surprised that there has not been a CD-1 post about recent polling, fundraising numbers, or the results of the straw poll at the Oregon Summit.

    All seem like pertinent topics to discuss on a progressive blog...

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      1) There have been no independent polls in this race.

      2) Even its creators note that the straw poll isn't reflective of anyone other than who showed up at a late night booze fest. Why the media insists on covering it is beyond me.

      3) Fundraising numbers (and the O endorsement). Sure - you bet. I had a busy weekend with the family and the day job (note that I'm commenting at 3:22 a.m.) Can't speak for the other 50 writers here. You know where the guest column form is.

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        Thanks, Kari.

        My post did sound passive aggressive. ...only intended to express genuine surprise that there was little mention of some major/interesting developments in the race, by anybody.

        Looking forward to the debate and further discussion!

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