Upper Left Coast

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

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More on the Willamette Week endorsements

As I noted earlier today, WW endorsed Jack Roberts for the Oregon Supreme Court. The paper's list of endorsements also included this amusing and surprising endorsement for Tom Cox in the race for a Metro councilor:
Cox is a former Libertarian and onetime candidate for governor who has undergone a bit of a makeover. He's now a Republican and running for a position on Metro. Cox is glib and funny and a bit of a flamethrower. He has no problem taking controversial positions (he likes to talk about Metro's bias against cars and businesses), and the idea of him on the same governmental body as Robert Liberty (a current council member whose liberal bona fides are unimpeachable) strikes us as more fun than a PlayStation 3.

But we think Cox would offer Metro more than just headlines. The agency needs some perspective, and Cox would provide that. He's willing to ask tough questions, would take a hard look at the budget and would speak for local governments in a way that's often overlooked at Metro. His work with the City Club of Portland shows that he can cooperate effectively with political opposites.
"The agency needs some perspective." How many other governmental agencies in Oregon could we say that about?

But as I re-read the endorsements, I realized something -- the paper only endorsed conservatives in races where 1) they were so far ahead of the opposition that there was no point in bothering with the Democrat (Larry George in Senate District 13, where Republicans hold a 14-point registration advantage); 2) the Democrat was left wanting (Bruce Starr in SD 15, where the R advantage is less than 2 percent, but Starr's opponent is "so totally underwhelming that he makes Starr shine"); or 3) the Republican's combination of experience and willingness to oppose his caucus made him palatable (John Lim in House District 50, where Democrats have a 2.6 percent lead, but Lim "doesn't toe the GOP party line" and his opponent "has never held elected office, and her inexperience shows").

That's three people with an R next to their names, plus two more conservative candidates in non-partisan races.

Here's what I took from that list: Willamette Week was willing to throw a bone to conservatives in arenas where "progressives" already dominate the discussion with an insurmountable advantage (supreme court and Metro). However, it wasn't about to risk losing control of the state senate or hurt the potential to gain control of the house, even if those entities might benefit from a new "perspective" -- even in districts with a distinct Republican advantage. The WW editorial board seemed to say, "We wish it so, we wish it so, we wish it so."

This was particularly amusing in HD 26, which holds a 14-point Republican advantage for GOP incumbent Jerry Krummel, who won reelection to a fourth term in 2004 by more than 20 points.

Other "wishing doesn't make it so" endorsements:
  • Chuck Riley in HD 29 -- Democrats hold a 224-voter margin in the district, but Riley won his first term in 2004 when he beat incumbent Mary Gallegos by less than 1,200 votes on the second try, thanks to 1,900 votes that went to Libertarian Tom Cox. (Cox has since seen the error of his ways and re-registered as a Republican before filing for the Metro race.) Riley is taking on Cornelius Mayor Terry Rilling;
  • Larry Galizio in HD 35 -- Voter registration in this district is split exactly evenly -- 12,405 voters in each party. Galizio beat Suzanne Gallagher by 2.8 percent for his first term in '04, and will take on Shirley Parsons this year. Parsons blew it (in my mind) by not showing up for an endorsement interview with WW, but it's not unreasonable to think that the people she wants to reach wouldn't care about a WW endorsement anyway;
  • Bev Backa in HD 37 -- Republicans hold a 7-point registration edge, and the seat is held by Scott Bruun, who won his first election in 2004 when he beat Jim Morton by 8 points;
  • Mike Caudle in HD 39 -- seeing Caudle knock off Majority Leader Wayne Scott would be almost as good as toppling House Speaker Karen Minnis, but this is doubtful. Republicans hold a fairly small (2.6 percent) edge in registration, but Scott beat Doug Neeley by 16 points for his second term in '04 (he squeaked out a 3-point win over Martha Schrader in '02);
  • Ryan Olds in HD 51 -- this is one of the biggest laughers in the list, and it comes down to the fact that WW doesn't like Flores' conservative politics. In fact, they hate her so much that they give the nod to a 23-year-old kid whose claim to fame is in-depth knowledge of baseball trivia and the ability to make a fart sound with his hand in his armpit. "Olds spent one term as a legislative intern and, unless he kills somebody, cannot do worse than Flores," they said. Republicans hold an edge similar to Scott's district, but Flores has won her two elections by 7 points (vs. Kathryn Firestone in '04) and 18 points (vs. Jan Lee in '02).
I've heard some nice things about David Edwards in HD 30 (where the GOP leads by 3.5 points), but I view his endorsement as essentially a good opportunity for WW to slam the rival Oregonian for supposedly getting " 'had and played' by the right" in the kerfuffle over Republican Everett Curry's religion.

And, as noted earlier by Dare at NWR, they made a laughable case for Ted Kulongoski's reelection (ellipses and emphasis mine):
After a productive first two years, during which the former labor lawyer trimmed public-employee benefits, froze wages and helped push a major transportation package, the guv went comatose. That Kulongoski did so little the past two years is not what troubles us. It's that he did so little to excite Oregonians.
. . .
Yes, we're disappointed in Kulongoski, mostly because he has the ability to do far better: He's smart and likable, and after 30 years as a legislator, senior bureaucrat, attorney general and Supreme Court justice, he has vast experience and contacts to draw upon should he desire to tackle taxes, education and health care.

We know Kulongoski has had health issues. We know the Neil Goldschmidt scandal knocked the wind out of him and removed his mentor from the political stage. But we also know that once upon a time Kulongoski was more than a well-intentioned pol. He was a gutsy public servant who seemed to embrace Sartre's comment that 'It is only in our decisions that we are important.' Our support for the governor this election is based on a belief (maybe more of a wish) that he'll again grasp the passion he once had for service and be willing to say no, to strong-arm intransigent legislators, to fire ineffective staff, to attack problems instead of hiding in his office, and to see his job as the extraordinary opportunity it is, rather than a nice 'lifetime achievement award' cap to his résumé.
In other words, we know he's a loser, but even a loser is better than a Republican. Which seems to be the philosophy they employed on more than one occasion.


  • At 10/19/2006 7:11 PM, Blogger John Eyler said…

    Great post. As a Southern Oregonian I'm kinda out of the loop on Northern Oregon politics. So much catching up to do.

  • At 10/19/2006 7:41 PM, Blogger RINO WATCH said…

    Sorry but Cox wasn't in error.

    Tom would have won the primary and general if he had the "R".

    It's sad isn't it that you have to have either an "R" or a "D" to win?

    Shouldn't the best candidate be put into office?

    Mary Gallegos got what she deserved...Piano-Piano


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