Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Eliminate the impure

There seems to be this line of thought in recent years that only pure Republicans or Democrats (read: very conservative or very liberal) deserve a place in our houses of government.

Any deviation from the "party line" means instant withdrawal of support. We'd be better off with the opposite party in that office, or so the argument goes -- at least we'd know what we're getting with them, instead of wondering how "our guy" is going to vote.

Thus, people like Gordon Smith are raked over the coals when they vote for the "wrong" kind of immigration reform, even though a recent Rasmussen poll showed Oregonians are evenly split on which party they trust on the issue. People like Ted Kulongoski are raked over the coals (read the comments on this post) for showing even a smidge of support for the state's soldiers, despite polls showing support for the troops regardless of our feelings about Iraq.

And most recently, someone like Ron Saxton (who won the Republican nomination) is being rejected as worthy of a vote for governor because his positions are too milquetoast for the state's conservatives.

In the latter example, that rejection has led to this morning's announcement at Northwest Republican that the state's Constitution Party (CP) will nominate Mary Starrett for Oregon's governor. Why? Because Saxton is not pro-life. And Starrett -- former Portland TV personality and former Oregon Right to Life education foundation board member -- is passionate enough about the cause to form her own advocacy group, Oregonians for Life.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not thrilled with Ron Saxton's commitment to life issues either. He may have promised to sign pro-life legislation regarding parental notification, partial-birth abortion, and informed consent, but he is still pro-choice. One of the reasons Oregon Right to Life endorsed Kevin Mannix was because they believed (correctly in my view) that a Gov. Mannix would fight for such legislation, not just consider it once it reached his desk; I think it's safe to say they won't get such dedication from Saxton.

But what, exactly, do the CP and Ms. Starrett hope to accomplish with this nomination? Do they expect to win? I can't imagine they could hold such lofty expectations. After all, as of April 2006, less than 3,000 Oregonians were registered to vote under the CP, which is less than two-tenths of one percent of all voter registrations. (By contrast, the Pacific Green party -- which nominated Joe Keating for governor, to the consternation of Kulongoski's supporters -- had more than 12,000 registrations.)

Just to provide more perspective, the CP nomination convention will be held this weekend at the Lake Oswego Stanford's Restaurant, which has no private meeting rooms (I checked), so they're going to put a few tables together and talk politics over the Dungeness crab cakes. At least the Greens met in a 200-person hall in North Portland.

Because of Starrett's television history, she has more name familiarity; she is also, I'm told, a genuinely nice person. But she paints herself at the edge of the political spectrum for a few reasons: 1) The co-founder of Oregonians for Life is Amy Rabon, a veteran of Operation Rescue, which advocates non-violent lawbreaking (or, as the OR website says, "activities on the cutting edge of the abortion issue"; 2) Starrett has accused ORTL of lying about the pro-life records of the candidates it supports, as well as not fighting harder against state funding of abortions and allowing an abortion exemption in a Laci Peterson-style law. As ORTL is already considered fairly right-wing by a good chunk of Oregon voters, this puts Starrett in the fringes; 3) The OFL website has one link to another pro-life organization, and it is Life Support Oregon, founded by Lon Mabon. Remember him? Not exactly mainstream.

(Note: the information on Rabon came from the OFL website when it was founded a year ago. The website has since been redesigned, the result being that Rabon is not mentioned. You can find other information about her by Googling her name.)

Starrett will not win, but by challenging Saxton from the extreme right, she will largely negate the advantage that Republicans held with the presence of the Green Party's Keating to Kulongoski's left. Starrett might pull a few thousand votes from Saxton in what promises to be a close battle among Saxton, Kulongoski and (assuming he reaches the ballot) Ben Westlund. And those few thousand votes -- even though some of them will come from people who wouldn't have voted for Saxton under any circumstances -- might be the difference between a moderate conservative and a much-farther-left liberal.

Frankly, there are plenty of reasons not to be excited about a Saxton candidacy from a conservative Republican perspective. But any conservative considering a vote for Westlund or Starrett (or considering skipping the election) needs to look seriously at those alternatives. Do you really believe the state will be better off with one of those alternatives at the helm?

Don't fool yourself -- you might be voting your conscience, but the result will be the opposite of your desires. It's like those who voted for Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election, or who voted for the Libertarian Party candidate in the 2002 Oregon governor's race. In the former event, Nader probably picked up enough votes from Al Gore to help George W. Bush; in the latter, Kulongoski won the contest by 36,000 votes, but Libertarian Tom Cox finished with 57,000 votes; had Cox not been in the race, many people think most of those votes (and the governorship) would have gone to Mannix.

Did the Naderites receive any concessions from Gore in the hopes that they would switch? No. They pulled votes from the only left-wing candidate who could win, and the result was Bush. Twice.

Did Oregon's small government Libertarians get any concessions from Mannix in the hopes they would switch? No. They pulled votes from the only right-wing candidate who could win, and the result was big-government Kulongoski.

Will abortion opponents get any concessions from Saxton in the hopes that they will switch? Not a chance. They'll pull votes from the most conservative candidate available, and the result will be a pro-choice governor, either Kulongoski or Westlund.

That's like getting dumped by the pretty girl at the dance, and then having the football star kick you in the teeth as you leave. You can't tell enough lies to convince me that's a good tradeoff.

UPDATE: I realized after the fact that I plagiarized this post from Daniel, so my apologies to him.


  • At 5/30/2006 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Really thoughtful post! I think you have lot of readers as opposed to a lot of "posters" because you cover the subject so thoroughly.


  • At 5/30/2006 10:54 PM, Blogger Capitol 3 said…

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  • At 5/30/2006 10:56 PM, Blogger Capitol 3 said…

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  • At 5/30/2006 11:31 PM, Blogger Ken said…


    I want to tread lightly here, as I don't wish to offend you. Lon Mabon is, to me, akin to the poison pill in Oregon conservative politics -- no one wants to be associated with him because of the way he went about provoking the gay community. He may have had good intentions, and he certainly was a lightning rod for the state's ultra-liberal community, but he picked some fights that didn't yet need to be fought and the conservative movement was the loser. It was far different for the Defense of Marriage Coalition to fight same-sex marriage, as that was part of the pro-gay agenda and the DOMC was simply responding; Mabon's efforts were provoked not so much by an outside force but by his own beliefs. And his recent rants against judges have done nothing but reinforce the idea that Lon is a few socks shy of a full laundry basket.

    If you want to vote for Mary, that's certainly your prerogative, but the likely result (if enough people do the same) will be four more years of Ted Kulongoski, as Ron Saxton would be the biggest loser of votes under that scenario. That means four more years of abortion on demand, higher taxes, and the continued demolition of the state's natural resource industries. Or you can vote for Saxton, and you might get a few of things to go our way instead. In voting your conscience, does that describe your goals?

  • At 5/31/2006 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You find yourself walking by a burning home. Some one screams, there are children in the back room!

    Do you A) run in and save whom you can. B)stand outside because you can't possibly save all of them?

    The State of Oregon is burning folks. Are we going to save what we can or stand by and watch it all burn?

  • At 5/31/2006 9:17 AM, Blogger I am Coyote said…

    I really am not yet sure that the Constitution party candidate will be much of a factor. Oh there will be the initial buzz from yesterday's story and then probably a tad more after they make it official. But after that it is going to be a rough row to hoe for them.

    The biggest problem for Saxton is going to be turnout. He should be thinking about three words: TURNOUT... TURNOUT... TURNOUT.

    There are some analysts that are saying there could possibly be a 10 to 20% drop in REPUBLICAN turnout this fall because of the national mood. That is backed up by the 20% drop in the projected primary turnout.

    No Republican candidate in Oregon, Ron Saxton included, could withstand a 10% "stay at home" vote from those that should be voting automatically for the Republican.

    With this in mind Saxton needs to talk, walk and work like a grassroots Republican in order to try to fire up the base. In that sense it could almost be helpful to have a CP candidate in the race.

    yip yip

  • At 5/31/2006 12:25 PM, Anonymous gullyborg said…

    My problem with Saxton isn't his position on most issues. It is his character.

    Early on, I was ready to get behind Saxton as the best alternative to Kulongoski. Then the primary season began.

    If Ron had run the same campaign he did in 2002: admit he is "moderate" and hope the other candidates split the conservative vote, he could have won the nomination. He was in a better position this time around than in 2002, as he had more money, more name recognition after his previous run, and faced two real conservatives who could (and did) split the conservative base.

    Ron would have won, and I'd be behind him now as the best alternative to the incumbent.

    Problem is, Ron didn't do that. Ron "re-invented" himself and played it twice as negative as he did in 2002. He pandered to people like Lars and OFIR. Now that he has the nomination, I expect him to "move to the middle" rather than stick with the platform that got him here.

    He has demonstrated poor character, and I don't like that in a leader.

    Right now, I think a CP candidate is the BEST THING for Oregon.

    I don't expect a CP candidate to win. I don't even expect a CP candidate to throw the election to Kulongoski.

    But, a CP candidate will get those disenfranchised far-right voters to vote, and that increases the odds for the GOP in legislative and local races. Sure, it does no good for Saxton. But right now, I don't honestly see the merit to Saxton in Mahonia Hall in place of Kulongoski. In fact, in a way I'd rather see Kulongoski, because he would only be a factor for 4 years. If Ron wins, he is the presumptive nominee again in 2010. If he loses, then we get another shot at electing someone I trust four years sooner.

    Maybe Westlund can pull it off -- in which case he would be a 4 year do-nothing lame duck, like Jesse Ventura was in Minnesota. At least he would be unable to do harm with a solid GOP House and maybe even a GOP Senate, which are more likely with a CP candidate to get out the vote.

    A CP candidate seems like the best thing for Oregon.

  • At 6/02/2006 12:50 PM, Anonymous Defeat Saxton said…

    I just want to see Ron Saxton fall like Kevin Mannix, so that we can get REAL leaders in after the old tired goats get put under and turned into meat on a spit.

    Hence my write-in vote.

  • At 6/03/2006 9:37 PM, Blogger Capitol 3 said…

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