Upper Left Coast

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

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

This will accomplish...what?

While I was away for Spring Break, I see the junior senator from the state of Oregon completely imploded. Gordon Smith voted in favor of a troop pullout within four months, distinguishing himself as the only Senate Republican willing to tell al-Queda how long it had to wait before it could start a full-scale slaughter of Iraqi civilians.

With that vote, Sen. Smith lost my support in 2008. I won't vote for his Democratic opponent (whomever it may be), but I won't support Smith, either.

However, the Northwest Republican rumor mill reported that Bill Sizemore may be considering a primary election challenge against Sen. Smith next Spring.

You remember Sizemore, don't you? In the 1998 governor's election, he won exactly one county against Incumbent John Kitzhaber, and that was tiny Malheur County, where he beat Kitzhaber by 363 votes. Overall, Kitzhaber beat Sizemore by 383,000 votes out of 1.1 million total votes cast, or more than 34 percentage points.

The author of a plethora of tax- and union-related ballot measures, Sizemore has been the favorite whipping boy for the unions. That included a multi-million-dollar racketeering judgment against him that took almost seven years for him to clear his name in the courts.

Sizemore is, in some respects, the Oregon version of Newt Gingrich; good ideas that are obscured by personal foibles. (I'm not saying Sizemore has Gingrich's ability to communicate or to think of creative policy ideas, only that his efforts are blunted by his personal issues.)

Run Bill Sizemore against Gordon Smith, and what happens? Most likely, Smith will clean the floor with him, because Republicans may agree with Sizemore's priorities, but I don't think they're willing to vote for someone with his history. It will mark Sizemore's second effort to "send a message" through personal candidacy, and will mark his second devastating defeat.

The only possible impact on Gordon Smith will be that he has to spend some of his campaign money to ward off a primary challenger (though I don't see that being a lot); and he has to defend his Senate votes earlier in the campaign season, thus exposing his inconsistencies to a press and a Democratic Party that are both eager to trumpet those issues.

Although doubtful, there is another possible outcome stemming from a Sizemore-Smith matchup: perhaps Republican resentment against Smith is broader than I imagine, and Sizemore squeaks past Smith in the primary. What happens then? Sizemore gets pasted by the Democratic machine even worse than in 1998, and becomes even more of a laughing stock.

It will also be a knock-down blow for Oregon's Republican Party, which will once again demonstrate its lack of effective candidates and organization and will cause independents to lose faith in the party's legitimacy.

Gordon Smith, for all his maverick status, is still a more reliable conservative vote than any Democrat (including Joe Lieberman) will ever be, and in many respects I hope he wins reelection in '08. But regardless, a Bill Sizemore candidacy would be a disaster -- for him, for his priorities, and for his party.

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  • At 4/03/2007 10:24 PM, Anonymous eddie said…

    You know, from the sound bites I've heard from Smith lately, it sounds like a combination of a) he's decided that his constituents are all anti-war and he'd better represent them, and b) this budget contained mass timber compensation pork for Oregon counties, and he wants to be sure it gets through.

    Not an excuse... and a pathetic scramble to reposition for no real benefit in the end (somehow I don't think anyone is going to see him as the new Joe Leiberman for his principled stand against blah blah blah).

    But perhaps an insight into what could possibly be going on in what he's using for a head these days.

  • At 4/04/2007 10:54 AM, Blogger OregonGuy said…

    So is it time for Greg to take a look?

  • At 4/04/2007 7:51 PM, Blogger RINO WATCH said…

    Upper, in one breath you say, "Sen. Smith lost my support in 2008"...

    In a later breath you say, "I hope he wins reelection in '08."

    I'm confused, unless I'm reading the thoughts of an "enabler".

    : one that enables another to achieve an end; especially : one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior (as substance abuse) by providing excuses or by helping that individual avoid the consequences of such behavior

  • At 4/05/2007 7:42 AM, Blogger Ken said…

    Rino, that's what I like about you: your willingness to engage in intelligent discussion without using labels to try forcing someone into a narrow political box.

    Using your definition, I'm not an enabler, because I will not be lending Sen. Smith my support next year. Whatever happens in November, it will not be due to my "enabling."

    However, I'm also a pragmatist, and recognize that Sen. Smith (despite his major flaws) is a better choice for conservatives than anyone the Dems could nominate. Smith has been right on judges, right (for the most part) on taxes, and the battles he fights (again, for the most part) are principled battles in which reasonable people can recognize value on both sides of the debate.

    That's why I said, "in many respects I hope he wins reelection." But it will not be due to my support.

    If he wins, I will still contact him when I disagree with him. If he loses, we will have six years to find a better candidate, but the Oregon GOP has not exactly had a stellar track record in that regard, so I'm not too hopeful.

    OG: I don't think Greg (I assume you mean Walden) will take on Smith while the latter is an incumbent. But if Smith loses in '08, I would be pleased and unsurprised if Walden ran in 2014. But that's a long time from now.


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