Whoa. Supreme Court candidate Nena Cook was one of the so-called "Democrats for Smith"

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

I've been trying to wrap my brain around the Supreme Court race for a while now. After all, folks I trust have endorsed both Nena Cook and Dick Baldwin.

Baldwin's got Barbara Roberts, Ted Kulongoski, Chip Shields, Val Hoyle, Bob Stoll, OLCV, SEIU 503, OEA, AFL-CIO, AFT, and many more. Cook's got Darlene Hooley, Kurt Schrader, Sara Gelser, Gail Shibley, Serena Cruz Walsh, Terry Bean, ILWU, Teamsters, Stonewall Democrats, and many more. And I've got friends actively working on both campaigns.

Update: I got a note from Terry Bean that he's endorsed Dick Baldwin for Supreme Court, not Nena Cook.

But the great thing about BlueOregon is that - unlike some other media outlets around here - our archives live forever. And with some 9700 blog posts over eight years, there's a lot of history in there.

And here's a bit of history that's not so ancient - and pretty relevant here.

It seems that Nena Cook was one of the steering committee members of "Democrats for Smith" during the 2008 election cycle.

To me, that tips the scale dramatically in Judge Baldwin's favor. You see, the "Democrats for Smith" were a bunch of folks (not all of whom were actually Democrats, mind you) who seemed to think that Oregon was a better place having "one of each" - that Gordon Smith's big smile and friendly demeanor was enough to qualify him as a non-scary Republican. But the fact is that Gordon Smith was a perfect representative of, by, and for the One Percent, long before that concept had crystallized itself in the public consciousness.

Any person that called themselves a Democrat - and yet supported Gordon Smith - was either deluding themselves or trying to pull one over on the public.

Now, I've heard second-hand that Cook is now telling people that she was on the Democrats for Smith list "by mistake". If she's calling it a grave error in judgment, I'll give her that one. But if she's saying that she never supported Gordon Smith, well, that's just not supported by the evidence.

In 2007 and 2008, the Democrats for Smith effort was a major public undertaking by Smith. It involved a standalone website, TV ads, print ads, and regular promotion for 18 months. And Democratic activists - including right here at BlueOregon - regularly called it out for attention. A number of individuals - including numerous small-town mayors and a state legislator - removed themselves from the list when they found themselves on it.

And Nena Cook was on the list from the beginning to the end. (Those links point to historical archives at archive.org, stretching over 15 months.)

So, I'm sorry to my friends that are supporting Nena Cook. But if she's the sort of person who deluded herself into thinking that Gordon Smith was standing up for progressive values, then she's not the sort of person I want on the Oregon Supreme Court.

I'm voting for Dick Baldwin.

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      So, I read the article regarding Nena Cook.. And do you know what! I refuse to believe that because a person made a choice to vote for a candidate that is NOT "Blue" or "Democrat" makes them a orphan in their own party? I refuse to believe that disqualifies one for a vote or a endorsement from a particular group of people. OregonBlue is wrong to make this judgement. This eliminates a entire group of possible voters. We don't discuss topics any longer. We "fight" about them. Cooperation and compromise, nope, it is divisiveness and just say "no.".. Gottcha Politics instead of what is best of the country. With this article, in my opinion, OregonBlue is now just a GUILTY as the other side. Great Going... end of rant.

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        I'm proud to have voted for Mark Hatfield.

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        Thanks for visiting our little website, BlueOregon. I like the cheese, too.

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    As the manager for Nena's campaign, I want to share with you the background on how Nena's name was mistakenly listed on the Democrats for Smith website.

    In early 2005, Nena was approached by HRC and asked if she would support its recognition of Gordon Smith for his support of the federal hate crimes legislation that was initiated after the murder of Matthew Shepard. As president of the Oregon State Bar, she was considered a community leader whose support of an award for a Republican who took a strong stand for legislation that was important to the LGBT community would be meaningful. She agreed to support the award going to Gordon Smith.

    If someone took Nena's support for Smith's stand on hate crimes legislation, which was lauded by many Democrats, and used it as authorization to list her as a supporter of his reelection on a website three years later, it was without her knowledge or permission.

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    That's all I need to know. Thanks, Kari. I and those who seek my advice on how to vote will support Baldwin.

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    Wow. Very helpful post. My lean towards Baldwin just solidified.

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    Not knowing which to vote for I looked at the endorsements and got my answer. Baldwin

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    Whoa,indeed, Kari.

    Look, most of us are not interested in the ringside seat for all the smear, backbiting, and political infighting. It's what drive people away from the process of democracy.

    It makes it hard for Precinct Committee People - like me - to find, engage, and keep connected the root constituency that the Democrats are built on. To bring in the volunteers and votes.

    So stop it.

    Either cite two (2)primary sources - as standard journalistic practice -that Nena Cook KNEW she was listed as affiliated with the 2008 Democrats for (Gordon) Smith steering committee or cut bait.

    A PDF of a flier is not evidence she knew. Saying all the other cool kids on the block knew is not, either. All 9700 Blue Oregon blogs did not say she knew - no one knows how many you drew from or the dates because you don't cite them. In all those 97000000000000000000000000000000000 entries, which are those?

    About all you did draw out her campaign manager into a pissing match.

    Stop it.

    Stop using the power of citizen blogging as a vanity press.

    We got enough vanity from Mitt with his boot-blackened-for-the-camera hair.

    Enough to wade through out here in trenches to keep the folks with kids and mortgages and no insurance and not enough work and no money for college loans and retirement savings long gone engaged.

    Enough mud to climb over to get to the folks who are beat up and so damn scared of tomorrow that at the end of the day all they know is it needs to get better, but are too tired to figure out how.

    What I need and what they need is to be energized and empowered. That means facts and clarity from the blue press. Now. It gets real. 13 days.

    Two citations that Nena Cook knew.

    Two good reasons, integrity for a vote, that I can give the Democrats in my precinct.

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        I'm open to another possibility: that Nena Cook allowed her name to represent her organization's stance in the 2008 race, whether it matched her personal philosophy or not.

        As a staff person for various organizations and campaigns over the years, there have been times when I've had to put my name out there in support of a position I didn't personally agree with.

        I'm fortunate in that I've worked for organizations that very closely mirror my personal sense of how the world should work. So when I testify, write a letter, speak to a community organization or ask for a vote, I'm speaking from my heart as well as my employer's directive.

        There are the rare times, however, when my employer's position is different from mine. In my professional capacity, I MUST lobby/testify/represent the cause with gusto so that my employer gets the most bang for their buck, and furthers the organization's cause whether it is in line with my personal preferences or not. There may always be a record of my testimony/writings, etc. that are not in alignment with my personal position, but that's just part of the job.

        In this case, I don't know whether the OR State Bar endorsed a candidate in 2008. But if the Bar endorsed Smith, and Ms. Cook worked for the Bar, she may have been taking one for the team.

        Honestly, this is a possibility I'm open to, but I don't know. I'm interested to know if someone knows more about this than I do.

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            Interesting. Thanks for the info.

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              Kari, speaking as a long-time member of the Oregon State Bar - no, that doesn't speak volumes. I've been a member of the state bar for 26 years, and I pay literally no attention to who the president is. I don't know who the bar president is now, and I couldn't have told you who it was during Nena's time in office.

              Of course there are plenty of Oregon lawyers who do pay attention. Based on the lawyers I have known during my years in practice, though, I think I'm about average. I suspect that the bar members who pay close attention to OSB politics (or even bother to vote in bar elections and polls) probably represent a significant minority. Most of us just are too busy trying to have a personal life while practicing a difficult and not always pleasant profession.

              So don't just assume that "the state bar" feels any particular way based on those who vote for its officers and in judicial preference polls, much less that there is a significant connection between the two. There isn't.

              Also, I suggest take a look at the track record of OSB judicial preference polls in predicting judicial elections. It might surprise you.

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                I've been a member of the state bar for 26 years, and I pay literally no attention to who the president is. I don't know who the bar president is now, and I couldn't have told you who it was during Nena's time in office.

                Fair point. I'll buy that.

                I suggest take a look at the track record of OSB judicial preference polls in predicting judicial elections. It might surprise you.

                Well, the OSB preference poll is surely not intended to be predictive. (That's what punditology is for!) It's a poll of lawyers to indicate their preference - sort of a mass endorsement score.

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                  Lawyers would like to think the bar polls are not so much predictive as persuasive to voters. The opposite appears to be true, or at least it was back when I was paying closer attention (because I worked for the Oregon Supreme Court). I remember there being an almost complete inverse correlation between the bar's choices and the election winners. It was disheartening. Maybe that's why I don't vote in bar polls anymore.

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          I don't think President of the OSB is an employee of the OSB. When you add that to the OSB not endorsing candidates, this comment is pretty much beside the point.

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      If she didn't know she should have known.

      By this logic, if one were to criticize a legislators vote they could simply say I didn't know how I voted and you would demand two sources they they knew how they voted.

      The record means something.

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    Thanks for this, Kari.

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    Not that I've ever done it, but supporting a Republican is not necessarily a serious character flaw, certainly not one that bars a person from polite company for all time.

    It's not like Cook punched anyone or voted in Oregon while living in Washington, or lied about her relationship with someone under 18 or even decided to fluoridate everyone's water without asking them.

    I don't really see how this sad and misguided episode in her life is disqualifying.

    After all, Gordon Smith was certainly not a tea-partier or some other toad from from the crazy wing of the Republican party.

    By today's standards he would be called a moderate and would no doubt have faced a vicious primary challenge from the right.

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    So, does the complaint against Nena have to do with her support of the hate crimes legislation work (something Smith just happened to be ahead of the ball on), or is it that she missed the fact that her name was being used outside of what she had expected at the time?

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      It has to do with the fact that Oregon's lawyers, judges, and Democratic leadership overwhelmingly support Baldwin, because he's much more prepared for this job than Cook.

      Since this is a judicial election where an attack by either candidate would be out of line, and since Cook's misleading campaign makes it impossible for unconnected voters to understand the difference between the candidates, Baldwin's supporters will throw whatever they can at her and see if it sticks.

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        We're talking about a bar preference poll, where a small fraction of lawyers appear to have registered any opinion.
        And Zach, you're wrong, Judge Baldwin does appear to have directly attacked Ms. Cook which is pretty surprising.

        As a lawyer who practices in both trial and appellate courts, and cares about having great judges on both, I voted for Nena Cook.

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      If her timeline is to be believed, then the hate crimes stuff was in 2005. And it came from HRC.

      But by 2008, HRC had disavowed Gordon Smith - but Nena Cook was a steering committee member for "Democrats for Smith"

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    Perhaps dear readers can come up with some sort of pure blue grading system similar to grading inclusions in diamonds.

    Such as:

    Flawless: No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification. Extremely rare, less than 1 in 5000 jewelry quality diamonds are rated FL.

    IF: Internally Flawless: No inclusions, only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

    VVS1 VVS2: Very, Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.

    VS1 VS2 Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are clearly visible under 10x magnification but can be characterized as minor. Inclusions are not visible to the naked eye.

    SI1 SI2 Slightly Included: Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

    SI1 is the lowest grade with flaws often invisible to the naked eye.

    Then, Blue Oregon readers could have a grade for each candidate based on the number of flaws a candidate had. Even if those flaws were only visible with a microscope to Democratic Party Cardinals.

    That being said...I'm voting for Judge Baldwin because of his trial court experience. Because of his overwhelming support from the bar. And, because Nena Cook has the endorsement of virtually all the District Attorneys. I find that group to not be particularly hospitable to civil rights and willing to occasionally use political strong arm tactics to achieve their policy goals. A corporate lawyer backed by law enforcement will likely not give the broadest interpretation to the Bill of Rights.

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    "With liberty and justice for all" — I feel proud when I recite these words in the Pledge of Allegiance, which embodies the values of our democracy. Yet as a woman, I feel marginalized sometimes when I look at Baldwin's record.

    Gender inequality still reigns in laws and our culture. Here are three examples: 1. Equal pay for equal work would not only be justice for all, but also would instantly stimulate our economy. 2. The same holds for raising the minimum wage — many women today are the sole family wage earners. 3. Protecting women's health-care funding. On Nov. 6, we have the choice to elect Nena Cook for Oregon Supreme Court, Her innovative ideas and integrity will bring a fresh perspective to the Supreme Court. Her thoughtful approach to solving problems and deep concerns for fairness will serve all of us well. I hope you, too, will vote for Nena Cook!!!!! Blueoregon is 100% a vehicle for the candidates that Chisholm/Burr support but I guess The Republicans are correct when it comes to kari "Where we eat our Own!!" not only did you just Dish Jefferson but where will Blue oregon draw the Line!!!!

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    When a candidate for judge endorses a GOP politician, it's an endorsement of that candidates philosophy and the party he stands for. Today the GOP no longer believes in the separation of church and state, no longer believes that a woman's body is her own. Just today we have a Senate candidate in IN, Richard Mourdock, who has been endorsed by Mitt Romney, who has stated that rape pregnancies are the will of God and should be enforced by the law of the land. That is the governing philosophy of the GOP and in their platform. Do we want to vote for a Supreme Court judge who endorses that philosophy and the party that espouses it, and that includes Gordon Smith? That record is certainly going to influence my vote for such a judge position.

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    I already voted for Judge Baldwin because he has a great record but this news just makes me even more convinced I made the right call.

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    As a practicing lawyer that does state court litigation (and limited appellate work) representing natural persons, most of whom or not wealthy, I am voting for Baldwin.

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    I've noticed Cook at several democratic functions. While going to a partisan event isn't illegal or immoral for a Supreme court candidate, I think it is uncool to say the least. They should have the "judgement" to stay away from partisan events.Most judges and judicial candidates do refrain from showing up at explicitly partisan fundraisers. Dick Baldwin in an honorable, smart and dedicated public servant. He will make a great Supreme court Judge. Vote for Baldwin!

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    Pass the popcorn please.....this is fun.

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    I do not think that any self-respecting Democrat would have served on the steering committee of Democrats for Smith.

    Smith was no Hatfield. I cannot think of any worthwhile reason for any Democrat to support Smith over Merkley.

    It's time for progressive Democrats to act on their beliefs and stop excusing rogue Democrats who desert worthwhile Democratic candidates at election time. Nena Cook could have kept her opinions to herself if she preferred Smith over Merkley and not campaigned for Smith. Her public actions should disqualify her from being supported by any progressive Democrats in this election or future ones. Otherwise, how can we keep calling ourselves a political party?

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      Rogue Democrats like the one that donated $500 to Republican Rep. Mark Johnson and hasn't endorsed the Democratic opponent Peter Nordbye?

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    I voted for Gerald Ford for President in 1976 because I considered Jimmy Carter too religious. (I know, seems silly now, doesn't it?)

    Good thing I'll never run for public office.

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      This has been a great dialog! The kind that gave the Democratic Party its reputation for diversity of opinion.

      So the verdict is still out for me. The involvement with Democrats for (Gordon) Smith was there, but on what basis is unclear even as it can reasonably be assumed Cook knew, it is now possibly not a matter of politics as much as her looking to get behind a record of Human Rights. However, with Kerala and John drawing out the facts around Baldwin's judicial history and Cook's law firm's client list, coupled with the link Kari provides to the previous article on Cook, there is much more to look at for a vote regards a nonpartisan election for a Supreme Court Judge. Two liberal - ahem excuse me - progressive Supreme Court Judge candidates to choose from would not seem likely to present as contentious for things getting better, and therefore no partisan harm or foul.

      Stephanie -I was married to the son of a Chief Negotiator for the International UWA, when Carter was running. I got to see him first hand greeting a shift change and speaking to the workers; somewhere there is a picture of him holding my baby boy. That meeting and a few other things like a degree in nuclear physics, a strong civil rights record, and my living downstream from Chicago - where civil rights sometimes were upheld only by the influence of liberal religious organizations - I believed that History would be Jimmy Carter's big fan boy someday.

      Kari - nicely done facilitating the comments. I am thinking that perhaps bringing out the judicial history of both candidates and referring to the URL of the previous article on Cook, even as a matter of supporting your position or to argue the premise it offers, would have shed more light on how blue the waters are around the candidates in a nonpartisan election. Though I still can't say I have enough substance to make my decision.

      Maybe we can have coffee sometime? After the elections. ~!~

      I really do feel fortunate to be part of such an awesome community of Democrats!

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