A view of the upcoming election from left field
BY TONY CORCORAN
Since I left the Oregon Senate, it’s been fun to sit out here in the left field bleachers in Cottage Grove and watch the political game. Although I miss the process, things are going well at home. Here on the farm, Jeannie and her Saddlesisters have promoted me to Manure Maintenance Monitor 3. I taught all three horses to shit directly into the wheelbarrow, thus eliminating the middle man, so to speak.
The Oregon political equivalent of baseball’s “hot stove league” usually takes place after each biennial state legislative session. During the fall and winter, we usually sit around the wood stove trading rumors. We try to predict who’s running for what next year, and attempt to align the stars in the next political season. But this year feels different:
A special election in November 2007 has two critical ballot measures, Measure 49 (the rewrite of the Measure 37 land use nightmare) and Measure 50 (adding health care services for poor kids with a boost in the cigarette tax).
The upcoming “supplemental” session of the state Legislature, meeting all month next February for no apparent reason, could be great theater. Three Democratic senators — Kate Brown, Brad Avakian and Vicki Walker — are all running against each other for secretary of state. This race becomes critical every 10 years, when state voting districts are re-gerrymandered by the party in control. The Republicans are recruiting ultra-conservative Sen. Bruce Starr.
Sen. Ben Westlund has morphed from Republican to independent to Democrat. Ben’s running for state treasurer because he could never get re-elected to the Senate from Bend again. Republicans have no candidate.
Speaker of the Oregon House Jeff Merkley is running against Gordon Smith for the U.S. Senate, if Merkley can get by Steve Novick in the primary.
In the Oregon attorney general race, incumbent Hardy Myers is retiring. (I know, I know, how can you tell?) Two candidates have already announced, Rep. Greg McPherson and Lewis & Clark professor John Kroger. Rumor has it that Alice Dale, my former boss and now the head of SEIU Local 49 in Portland, might also enter the race. Along with Margaret Hallock and Joan Acker, Alice battled for pay equity for women in state government in 1987. She’d have organized labor’s support. I hear that retread Kevin Mannix may run again for the R’s.
Oregon’s Axis of Evil — Bill Sizemore, Russ Walker and Kevin Mannix — are all pursuing initiative measures for the November 2008 election. They have enough signatures already to place another Mannix mandatory prison sentencing proposal and a Sizemore requirement for non-English speakers to be taught in English; Walker’s proposal is to make federal income taxes fully deductible on state returns (which kills schools and services to the poor), and Sizemore wants performance-based teachers’ salaries.
But the Oregon hot stove league’s goofiest player is John Frohnmayer, Dave’s Independent Party brother. Wait: there’s an organized Independent Party in Oregon? What the hell’s next: the Oxymoronic Anarchist Party?
For no apparent reason, John decided to run against Gordon Smith and Jeff Merkley for U.S. Senate. By choosing to do so, Frohnmayer practically ensures Gordon’s victory by stealing enough moderate votes from Jeff to throw the race to Gordo. Say it ain’t so, John! In 1990, Republican brother Dave was pretty much assured the governorship in his race against the Democrat, Barbara Roberts. Then right-wingnut spoiler, Al Mobley of the Oregon Christian Coalition, entered the race as an independent because Dave was just too damn liberal. Well, Al showed everyone on the Right just how wrong he was, and Barbara had her four-year conversation with Oregon.
Don’t get me wrong, I like both Frohnmayer boys; they’re both bright, honorable men. But, come on, John. Get a grip! If you really think the president should be impeached, then you’ve got to want Gordo gone, too. He’s voted with Bush for six years, every step of the way — until his battlefield conversion when a poll showed 68 percent of Oregonians opposed the war. Gordo has voted to wreak financial havoc on Oregon’s seniors and disabled and our working poor, he’s killed more salmon than the Russian fleet, and he’s got a horrible environmental record. We all agree: he’s gotta go. We don’t need spoiler John Frohnmayer to hand Gordo the race. Like Yogi Berra said, it’s déjà vu all over again.
Tony Corcoran is a member of the state Employment Appeals Board and co-founder of the Hot Air Society of South Lane, Eugene, and Springfield (HASSLES). The views expressed herein are those of a private citizen of Oregon.