Oregon: Get your primer! ...and breaking news in the U.S. Senate race
Over the last few months Carla has been on hiatus from blogging, working for victorious Oregon Senate candidate Jeff Merkley, who defeated Steve Novick for the Democratic nomination. Merkley will face incumbent Republican Gordon Smith this fall. Before joining the Merkley campaign, Carla's posts could be found at Loaded Orygun and Preemptive Karma. She'll be filing reports from the Beaver State here at NPI every few days. This is her first - please enjoy!
The geographical and political landscapes in Washington and Oregon are strikingly similar. Both states have the greater population centers west of the Cascade mountain range that trend to the progressive and the rainy. The residents on the east side of the mountains tend to vote more conservative--and have populations composed heavily of farmers and ranchers. Both have large metropolitan areas in their NW corners that essentially anchor the liberalism of the state.
(The immediate big news of the Oregon political day is that Independent Party candidate John Frohnmayer is ending his bid for the U.S. Senate seat. That news is still breaking, but I've confirmed with the Merkley campaign that Frohnmayer is indeed out.)
Where I see Washington's Mexico begin to part ways with our northern neighbor is our rather vast libertarian streak. Oregonians enjoy a maverick sensibility that chafes at the perception of government being too intrusive in their personal lives, while at the same time expecting to be provided basic government services--and attempting to spurn the financial cost. Oregon also likes to consider herself a leader: the first to pass the landmark Bottle Bill in 1971 (updated in '07 to include water bottles), the first in the U.S. to pass Death With Dignity and a stalwart if not confusing insistence that residents cannot pump their own gas.
Add to the mix the fact that the Oregon Republican Party is in tatters:
The Oregon Republican Party has hit the financial skids, facing more than a quarter-million dollars in debt and an IRS lien for failing to pay payroll taxes. "It's far more debt than we've been in for years," party spokeswoman Brianne Hyder said Tuesday. "It's a tough year for Republicans to raise money in Oregon."Barack Obama enjoys a ten-point lead over McCain in Oregon, according to Survey USA. However, SUSA has done poorly with their polling in Oregon this cycle, consistently under-polling Obama's primary lead over Clinton and the Democratic Senate primary, so grain of salt and all that. McCain has a shot at doing better in Oregon than other blue-trending states because of our maverick-ness, but Oregon is also suffering from a heavy dose of Bush/Republican fatigue. Expect things here to continue to move toward the Democrats.
The bad financial news comes as the party is struggling to recruit candidates for open statewide posts. It also comes during a presidential election year when state parties are called upon to help deliver votes in November. (snip)
According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, the party had $35,850 in cash on hand in its federal political action committee as of the first of the year and $263,930 in debt. The state PAC had about $42,00 in cash on hand, according to a report filed with the state Elections Division.
The down-ticket races should also move toward the "D" column. Especially with the news that Independent Party candidate John Frohnmayer is ending his bid for the U.S. Senate seat. Frohnmayer was attempting to run to the left of Democrat Jeff Merkley and expected to take votes away from him. This has to frustrate incumbent Republican Gordon Smith, who has decided to run largely on Jeff Merkley's platform: pro-environment, pro-civil rights, anti-Iraq war, etc. Unfortunately for Smith, his votes don't match his rhetoric.
Republicans are expected to lose every statewide election this cycle--except for the U.S. Senate seat, which pundits say leans Republican but polling puts it closer to a toss-up. The only other race where the GOP is likely to prevail is the 2nd Congressional District , where Greg Walden enjoys a general voting stranglehold.
I'll profile the other Oregon races in the coming weeks..and bring you breaking news from the state that isn't allowing its NBA franchise to bail.