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Of Corruption and Conflict of Interest

The scene for Oregon’s November general election just got clearer with the primary results. Although I haven’t seen detailed demographics, one statewide fact sticks out: Democrats turned out; Republicans didn’t. According to the Oregon secretary of state’s office, Dems turned out more than 66 percent of their party members, while R’s turned out less than 58 percent. Doesn’t sound like much of a margin until you consider that statewide the D’s turned out more than 230,000 more voters than the R’s. 

That imbalance was more extreme in Lane County, where Dems outperformed R turnout by a two-to-one margin, 60 percent to 30 percent. This could be significant in November. 

The presidential primaries played out weirdly. Practically eliminated from the race by the time he reached Oregon, Bernie correctly predicted he would win if turnout was high. It was, and he won damn near a landslide, 56 percent to 43 percent. On the Republican side, you could say Trump did win in a landslide — 64 percent of the vote statewide. But the only other names on the ballot, Cruz and Kasich, had already dropped out of the race! So less than two thirds of Oregon’s Republicans voted for the Donald. That says something.

Primaries ended several races here locally. Lucy Vinis won the Eugene mayor’s race by a margin that stunned everyone. Progressives were hoping for a November runoff at best; instead she left Mike Clark and all his late money standing in the dust. Progressives prevailed, and Kitty Piercy’s legacy as mayor is reinforced. 

Democrat Julie Fahey ran a hard-fought race, defeating James Manning in the House District 14 primary to replace Val Hoyle. It is easy to see why Manning received a wide range of endorsements, as did Fahey. Both are great community contributors, and I have high hopes we’ll see James Manning in a future elected position.

Tough to watch Val Hoyle lose her primary for secretary of state. Late money played a role in the campaigns of all three Democratic candidates, and the race broke Brad Avakian’s way at the end by a margin of 4 percent. The presence of NARAL in a three-way race between three pro-choice candidates was baffling, as was the U.S. Humane Society attack on Val. Both of these organizations had no business in this race, obviously they have more money than they need, and they were simply punishing Val as majority leader for decisions made by Speaker Tina Kotek and the House Dems during the past two sessions of the legislature. 

Val will land on her feet — she is one tough lady. In fact, there she was Friday, three days after the election, making a pitch at the Sponsors, Inc., annual fundraiser.

It will be easy for Democrats to rally around Avakian in November when they consider whom the Republicans chose to run against him. Dennis Richardson — truly the most arrogant man I ever served with in the legislature — sent Sid Leiken hikin’ by a four-to-one margin statewide; that’s not a landslide, that’s an asskicking. 

Richardson campaigned as the guy who exposed Kitzhaber’s “corruption” and self-describes himself as “incorruptible.” This is the guy who was known as Representative TIAA KREF during the 2003 legislative session when we worked on PERS reform. Richardson’s solution was to abolish PERS and give public employees a 401K managed by none other than the aforementioned retirement plan he represented. Did he declare a potential conflict of interest? Hell no. 

Dennis Richardson once encouraged a Human Services Ways and Means Committee to stop funding prenatal care for Oregon’s poor because, by golly, his wife had nine children and she knew what to do after the first one. Seriously. So really, it won’t be hard to rally around Avakian in this race.

But, enough about politics. Jeannie’s got me hooked on watching Game of Thrones. (No imp jokes, please!) The plot is overwhelming: so many characters, so many relationships. I’m just a simple country boy. For example, I’m confused: Will all those inter-married queens and kings still be cousins after their divorces? … just like in Cottage Grove?

Bad joke, I know. But being an orphan with no knowledge of my ancestry, genetics is a crapshoot to me. I even sent my cheek swabs and some money to the National friggin’ Geographic, only to find out I’m 87.837 Irish-English descent! No surprise there. But I also discovered that I’m less Neanderthal percentage-wise than most of my readers and friends had suspected. I plead the Fifth Amendment on disclosure of the actual number. Stay tuned.