On the eve of filing day, a look at the big board

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

There's less than 36 hours left until the deadline to file for the May 2012 primary election. This is a rundown of all the statewide races. I'll have legislative races later today.

Labor Commissioner

The first big showdown of 2012 will be the race for Labor Commissioner - featuring Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian (D) and Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro)

Nominally a nonpartisan race, the May primary will decide the election if it's just the two of them.

Attorney General

In the open seat race for Attorney General, there are two Democrats filed - Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum.

To date, there are no Republican candidates (and no credible rumors of any Republicans.) If that remains the case, the outcome will also be decided in May (though not official until November.)

Secretary of State

Secretary of State Kate Brown has drawn a GOP challenger, Bend surgeon Knute Buehler, who will be a serious opponent. (She also faces a primary challenge from perennial candidate Paul Damian Wells.)

State Treasurer

To date, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler remains unopposed. I also haven't heard any rumors of Republicans here either (though who knows what schemes got hatched in the bar at Dorchester.)

Call me crazy, but if a political party can't manage to field candidates - even sacrificial lambs - for Attorney General and Treasurer, is that really a political party that has a serious future in this state?

Trivia question: Without looking it up, can you name the last three Republicans to win a November general election in Oregon for Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, or Attorney General?

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    Full disclosure: My firm built the campaign websites for Brad Avakian and Kate Brown. I speak only for myself.

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    Vic Atiyeh, Norma Paulus, Dave Frohnmayer?

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      The days of an honorable, competent, and credible GOP state leadership are long gone. "There's no one left in the Republican party I can talk to." -Norma Paulus

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      That's right. Atiyeh was elected Governor in 1978 and re-elected in 1982. Paulus was elected SOS in 1976 and re-elected in 1980. Frohnmayer was elected in 1980 and re-elected in 1984 and 1988.

      Obviously, whatever the Rs are doing ain't working.

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        But since you included State Treasurer, why aren't Bill Rutherford (1984) and Tony Meeker (1988) on your list?

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          And let us not forget Jack Roberts, Labor Commissioner serving from 1995-2003 until he made the fatal error of running for governor against the incomparable Kevin Mannix.

          I think your theme song, Jack, is "Call me Mr. Lonely!"

          Your party has gone over a cliff. Even now when the boss of your party, Rush Limbaugh, is in deep trouble and heaping large piles of dung on the GOP brand, you won't find a single party leader to really take him to the woodshed. Your nominee apparent, Mitt Romney, shows his great integrity and manhood by stating that he might have "chosen different language", in other words slightly different vocabulary to denigrate a courageous young woman who spoke her mind about access to women's health care.

          George Will says it pretty clearly on Sunday.

          “[House Speaker John] Boehner comes out and says Rush’s language was inappropriate. Using the salad fork for your entrée, that’s inappropriate. Not this stuff,” Will said. “And it was depressing because what it indicates is that the Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”


          With rare exception Republican males are emasculated wimps who can't do the right thing and stand up to Rush Limbaugh, the alpha dog in the kennel. When a man like that dishonors women like he does, in the culture I come from the other men escort him out the door and work him over outside until he gets the message. At least his sponsors now understand a little about business ethics and that being an offensive jerk is no way to make money.

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          I suppose it depends on how you're keeping score. I wasn't exactly explicit about it - but I was looking for Republicans who defeated Democratic incumbents or won open statewide seats.

          Rutherford was appointed treasurer in April 1984, and then ran in November 1984 to win a full term. He then resigned in July 1987, and Meeker was appointed, winning a full term in 1988.

          But Jack, you're actually too modest here. It was just pointed out to me that in 1994, when you ran and won the Labor Commissioner job, it was a partisan office - so I should have included it in my trivia question.

          The last three Republicans to win an open seat or defeat a Democratic incumbent in a partisan November general election for a statewide "cabinet" office are Jack Roberts (1994), Dave Frohnmayer (1980), and Vic Atiyeh (1978).

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    The last Republicans who managed to win on a statewide level, would not even be accepted by the current Republican party. Norma Paulus has been very clear that she would no longer fit the Republican Party. Likewise, Frohnmayer is more closely aligned with Democratic causes than the current Republican Party. Even Atiyeh would likely lose a Republican Primary held now.

    I remember hearing about the battles within the Republican Party in Oregon during the 1980's between the "moderate" Republicans and the religious right. Eventually the religious right won the fight, and so the "moderates" have been pushed out.

    Question is, will "moderate" Republicans return, or will the Republican Party in Oregon die out? Perhaps one of the minor parties (Working Families? Libertarian? Green? Independent? Progressives?) would put up strong enough candidates that the Republican candidates start coming in third.

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    Jim - I think you make an excellent point. I think Republicans could win statewide offices if the more moderate candidates could get out of the primary. The ultra-conservatives won't support folks from their own party unless they're ideologically as rigid. Until that changes, I don't seen the R's being competitive in statewide races. Aside from that, there's also the reality of more registered D's in Oregon.

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    A serious future of rebuilding ...

    But there is something else interesting here, because the Rs have been able to elect majorities of one or both houses of the legislature with some regularity, including nearly doing so in 2010.

    Is this just the influence of Portland metro (plus maybe a few other places) over the rest of the state?

    And although in terms of future of the DP as a party in the narrow sense -- electing their people -- that Portland-centric base is better than always losing, in terms of I hope and think DP ambitions to govern for the common good, does that shape of things say something that needs attention?

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