OR-House: Rainbows, Unicorns & Kevin Cameron.

Carla Axtman

On July 18 after an extended session, Oregon House Republicans changed their leadership from Kevin Cameron to Andy Olson. The initial word that came to me from sources in Salem was that Cameron had been ousted.

But write ups of the leadership change from reporters indicated that Cameron had resigned instead.

Cameron even snagged a "winner" label from the Editorial Board at the Statesman Journal.

In the grand scheme of things, whether or not Cameron was "ousted" or stepped down of his own accord is probably not earth shattering. But, I don't like getting stories wrong. So I sat down to revisit the situation and prepared to write a correction.

But the more I investigate, the more questions arise (more after the jump).

The press release from the GOP House Caucus was full of hearts & flowers, certainly. But if this was a simple, cut and dried matter of a resignation for personal reasons and the election of a new leader, why the marathon five hour caucus session?

Why were none of the members commenting to the press on the "exciting" new development of Olson as leader?

Why didn't Cameron announce that he was stepping down before the meeting, instead of sending out a press release after their meeting was over?

Then on Friday, Jeff Mapes noted on OPB's Friday Political Chat that new leader Andy Olson was unhappy with the way that Republican leadership managed the Matt Wingard scandal.

Peter Wong of the Statesman Journal raises the same thing here.

Further, it's my understanding that it's pretty unusual to switch leaders in July of an election year. If Cameron was having family and business issues, why wait so late into the year? Why not do it before the election cycle kicks in? It's doesn't entirely add up.

Did Cameron lose his spot because he sat on the Wingard letter for a month without taking action?

Could it also be a consequence of the GOPs failed attempts to block foreclosure reform in the February session? Or perhaps their general failure to pursue or achieve any meaningful policy items from the February session generally? Seems like the GOPs agenda went nowhere.

Or is it that they know that they are poised to lose seats in November?

And now it turns out that Olson benefits heavily from the largesse of the PERS system. Republicans have continually vilified PERS as an out-of-control government program. Olson seems like an odd choice to lead their caucus, under those circumstances. Did the GOP not take the time to vet the guy...?

I don't think I'll be writing that correction just yet.

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    Olson is the logical person to replace Cameron. Hanna runs the caucus, even more with Wingard on his way out, and Olson is his obedient lieutenant, the Rules Ctte Co-chair who killed bills at Hanna's behest rather than let the legislative process move forward. maybe things change after the election, but at this point, it lets everyone know that Hanna is running the show. (and since he earned his PERS as a cop, the latter trumps the former. it's teachers & bureaucrats who abuse PERS, not cops.)

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      What's so unusual about the chair of the rules committee killing bills that the leadership, big donors, or the caucus generally does not want?

      Also, why is it germane to the broader conversation that Olson is a retired State Police Commander who receives a PERS benefit? Every Oregon legislator gets PERS.

      I've known Andy for a few years. We disagree on some issues, but I have always found him to be honorable and an honest broker.

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        The post says why its germane.

        How you go from that to having to defend Olson as an "honest broker" is beyond me.

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          What's to figure out? Andy Olson is a good guy, and I thought someone should point that out given how he has been characterized in this thread.

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            Nobody has suggested that Olson is a bad human being, Sal. The suggestion is that he's a legislator who works at the behest of his party and Bruce Hanna.

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    Carla, Thank you so much for looking into this. I hope you will continue to do so. One thing we know for sure: Cameron did nothing about Wingard until the WW article and your postings forced his hand.

    Questions still remain: What did Cameron know about Wingard and for how long did he know it?

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    I may have a source for you within the Republican House staff. Another clue might be found from talking with Dennis Richardson. Did he vote for the ouster or for Olson?

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