I don’t know about you, dear reader, but the political season always makes me nervous behind the steering wheel. Every two years here in the 4th Congressional District, I used to have an involuntary fight-or-flight reaction to any vehicles sporting an “Art Robinson” bumper sticker. I’d slam on the brakes and elude, just in case the driver was preparing for the Rapture at any moment.
I can only imagine what’s in the enraptured minds of the owners of the “Trump that Bitch” sticker I saw recently on a Ford SUV in Cottage Grove. Anyway, I’m over my Art Robinson paranoia now that he’s running for the fourth time against Peter “the Wolfman” DeFazio.
Welcome back, students. Hope you made a lot of money this summer. You’re going to need it when the Oregon Legislature gets back in session next February saddled with a $1.3 billion biennial shortfall. That’s the problem with an overreliance on volatile personal income tax to fund education, human services and public safety: When our economy slowed, there was less tax revenue available than anticipated back in early 2015, when legislators created the current 2015-17 budget.
As for the presidential race, I’m guessing you’ve got that circus figured out, so I’m going to ignore it for now. For the next couple of weeks I’m going to focus on down ticket races here in Oregon. These races will have a direct impact on future tuition increases, K-12 funding, senior and disabled programs, and public safety.
So forget your disgust, hold your nose and vote. Don’t let the top of the ticket deter you. It’s too important, especially this year.
Let’s start with the governor’s race: incumbent Cautious Kate Brown vs. Bud “No Plan” Pierce. You can stream their Sept. 24 Bend debate on KGW.com. But I watched it for you to save you the pain.
Kate’s a known political commodity. I served with her in the Oregon House and Senate. She took Democrats from a minority to a majority during her tour as Senate Democratic leader. She’s pro-choice, pro-education funding and pro-Measure 97.
And Brown just got a $250,000 campaign contribution from former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg for her support of stronger background checks on firearms. That move also prompted gun nuts to hang her in effigy at the Capitol last week. She has a voting record.
Bud Pierce is illusive. He’s never run for public office. He can say anything he wants; he has no voting record. Sound like someone else you’ve heard lately? He’s a physician willing to spend $1.5 million of his own fortune to convince you he has a better mousetrap, but he won’t describe his plan.
And like Republican physicians Monica Wehby and Knute Buehler before him, Pierce considered it beneath him to run for some lower form of public office — be it school board or city council or the legislature — before stepping in front of the line and running for statewide office straight out of the chute. Really? Maybe he had one too many shots at the genius bar?
In March of 2016, before Oregon’s primary, Bud endorsed Trump. Then, after the primary, moving to the center, Bud began equivocating. In an August radio interview he refused to repudiate Trump, even after the infamous Mexican criminal and “Obama created ISIS” comments. He told his host he only supported Trump because Trump won the primary and he (Bud) is a loyal Republican.
But wait, there’s more. On Sept. 24 OPB reported: “In A Reversal, Oregon Republican Candidate For Governor (Pierce) Dumps Trump.” Apparently, Bud’s party loyalty is trumped by The Donald’s propensity for driving away Hispanic voters. Oregon’s population is 12 percent Hispanic, the 14th largest Hispanic statewide population share nationally. Hispanic voters are a growing force in Oregon politics. Bud still hasn’t repudiated any of Trump’s positions, just the candidate. Come on, man!
Bud offers nothing on PERS other than to attack public employees. He opposes Measure 97 with no alternative revenue plan in mind. His thoughts on land use reform mirror the Bundy brothers’ Malheur philosophy: Return all federal lands to the states and counties, even if they can’t maintain them, so they can sell it all to the highest bidder.
“Prosperity Without a Plan” ought to be the Republican mantra this cycle. Blaming Kate for 25 years of the Republican Legislature’s neglect for public education funding is clear evidence of Pierce’s political naïveté. If you’re a progressive, this Bud’s not for you.
Former state Sen. Tony Corcoran of Cottage Grove is a retired state employee.
Next week: Brad Avakian and Dennis Richardson, the scariest man in Oregon, in the race for Oregon secretary of state.