Upper Left Coast

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

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Something I don't quite understand

In today's Oregonian, the editorial staff has revoked its endorsement of Democrat David Edwards for House District 30, and offered it instead to Republican Everett Curry. This change of direction comes due to what the paper calls a "dirty trick," and that's a good way to describe it.

Two months ago, Edwards' campaign manager sent an email to Curry (an ordained minister in the American Baptist Church) pretending to be an independent voter, and asking Curry about his theology. When Curry offered to meet over coffee, this "independent voter" declined, but the signature on his email ("Seth Prickett, Campaign Manager, Friends of David Edwards") gave him away.

Prickett immediately apologized "for attempting to deceive" Curry, and told Edwards about his misdeed. Edwards apparently declined to fire Prickett only because Curry was willing to forgive and move on.

One could question Edwards' judgment in keeping Prickett on board, regardless of Curry's pardon, but here's the main thing I don't get: if you just read today's editorial, you would think nothing more has happened for the last two months. You would think the O was revoking its endorsement based solely on Prickett's deception.

But if you read David Reinhard's Sunday column, you'd know that Curry's mercy -- and his silence -- was offered in return for an agreement that no similar incidents occurred in the future. According to the column, however, "the campaign shenanigans continued."

What are those shenanigans? Reinhard points to two things: 1) Some District 30 voters recently received a mystical phone push-poll that asked if their opinion about Curry would change if they learned of Curry's religious background; and 2) FuturePAC, the House Democratic caucus, recently sent out a mailer that pointedly announced Curry's Baptist affiliation.

If Edwards' campaign was involved in either incident, such an accusation of shenanigans is appropriate (as is the endorsement revocation). Do Reinhard or Curry have evidence that Edwards' campaign was involved in those, or did something similar? Since Edwards denies any involvement, is this just an opportunity to tarnish his reputation?

Don't get me wrong -- I hinted at this above, but now I'll spell it out: I think Edwards should have canned Prickett on the spot. It's admirable that Curry was so willing to forgive, but this was an opportunity for Edwards to demonstrate the line of acceptable conduct in his campaign. He didn't. Or maybe he decided Prickett hadn't crossed that line. (Either way, it's an important glimpse into what Edwards feels is important.)

Instead, this incident -- combined with the push-poll and the Democratic Party mailer -- comes across as a demonstration of one of the Democrats' greatest shortcomings: an absolute disdain, disrespect and disregard for someone they perceive as holding conservative Christian beliefs. Nowhere was this more evident than in Reinhard's conversation with State Rep. Dave Hunt, a Democrat from HD40 in Milwaukie. Here's how Reinhard recounted it (emphasis mine):
After [a conversation with Curry], I made two calls. One was to Democratic state Rep. Dave Hunt. I called him because Curry mentioned that Hunt was also an American Baptist Church member. I wanted to confirm this and ask his opinion. He argued that the Edwards' campaign and the House Democratic caucus were doing nothing wrong in making an issue of Curry's religion. After that, Hunt called my boss to complain.
According to the things I've read, Curry hasn't said a thing about his religion throughout the campaign. The only mention on his website is that he earned his master's and doctorate degrees from California seminaries; was involved in starting a law enforcement chaplaincy; and was a board member for American Baptist Homes of the West, which provides low-income housing for the elderly.

Yet Hunt saw nothing wrong with making an issue of it and attempting to link Curry to the "Religious Right"? And then he called the Oregonian to complain about it? Smear and whine, you might call it.

Those things are why it's not a stretch to wonder if the Edwards' campaign's "dirty tricks" extend beyond a deceptive August e-mail. And even if they don't, Edwards' decision not to fire Prickett might be enough justification for today's editorial. But there's enough disconnect between Reinhard's column and the editorial staff's endorsement revocation for me to wonder if we're getting the whole story.

4 Comments:

  • At 10/04/2006 9:23 PM, Blogger RINO WATCH said…

    Upper,

    I spoke with Edwards right after his conversation with Reinhard. He was very upset...especially when I brought up and showed him the mail piece the D's sent out in his behalf.

    He turned his back on me and tried to walk away until I reminded him I was a constitutent and he owed me an explanation.

    The guy is very arrogant.

    Look for the Hillsboro Argus to pull thier endorsement of Edwards from last week also...

    More to come from RW...

     
  • At 10/06/2006 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree that Edwards should have fired the Prick. That might have indicated at least a hint of common decency. On the other hand, even had he done so, I don't get the impression that much would have changed.

     
  • At 10/06/2006 6:54 PM, Blogger RINO WATCH said…

    RinoWatch was incorrect....

    In my earlier comment I thought that the Hillsboro Argus would pull their endorsement of David Edwards --they did not.

    Argus

    When Rw guesses wrong no problem admitting it.....

     
  • At 10/15/2006 3:07 PM, Blogger Bipartisan Voter said…

    David Reinhard misquoted Dave Hunt (cleverly not using any quotation marks to do so). Hunt told him that David Edwards and the House Democrats had done nothing inappropriate in this campaign AND that neither had made an issue out of Curry's religion. An important distinction that Reinhard mischaracterized.

    Reinhard did get one thing right: Hunt did call his boss to complain, because Reinhard had clearly hatched a complete conspiracy theory before he ever talked with Hunt or anyone else checking for facts.

    I was pleased to see that his boss and the rest of the Oregonian's editorial board rejected Reinhard's conspiracy theory by only following up on the inappropriate behavior of Seth Prickett. The Hillsboro Argus made this case even more strongly by energetically re-endorsing David Edwards and slamming the Oregonian.

     

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