It’s hard to watch a party self-destruct.
If you look at all the races on the Oregon ballot on Nov. 8, it’s clear that the Republican Party has largely abdicated its position as the loyal opposition.
It starts at the top with the U.S. Senate race. Anybody know who the Republican candidate is? His name is Mark Callahan. I can tell you he went to OSU. But his website doesn’t list any events he’s attending and OpenSecrets.org reports he has raised just $15,852 (compared with Democrat Ron Wyden’s fundraising total of $11.4 million).
The 3rd and 5th District races for the House of Representatives aren’t any better.
In the 3rd, which includes most of Multnomah County, including Portland east of he Willamette, 10-term Democrat Earl Blumenauer is opposed only by Progressive Party candidate, David Delk, who says he has no experience. OpenSecrets.org reports he has raised nothing (compared with Blumenauer’s fundraising total of $1.1 million). Of course, the 3rd has been held by a Democrat since January 1937.
In the 5th, the Republicans did manage to recruit Colm Willis to run against Democrat Kurt Schrader. Willis has deep Oregon roots, graduated from Willamette University’s School of Law and worked as a staff member on a U.S. Senate committee, but he has raised just $239,113 (compared with Schrader’s $1.6 million)
How about the governor’s race?
Bud Pierce may be a great doctor and a nice guy, but he was invisible statewide, a cipher, until this election. He’s managed to raise $2.5 million, but Brown has raised $3.5 million and Oregon hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 1982.
An OPB poll released on Oct. 17 showed that Brown leads Pierce by an astonishing 46 percent to 33 percent. This despite the fact that even Willamette Week offered faint praise for Kate Brown, declaring, “Brown’s greatest political strength is her affability—and her ability, so far, to blame problems on her predecessor.”
Work your way down the Oregon ballot and it gets worse, with many Democrats facing NO republican opponent.
The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (RLCC), a state-oriented national organization that seeks to elect Republicans to state legislatures, identified the Oregon State Senate and House of Representatives as targets in the 2016 elections. You’d never know it.
In the Oregon State Senate races, there’s no Republican candidate in the 14th, 18th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Districts.
In House races, there’s no Republican candidate in the 9th, 27th, 34th, 35th, 36th, 42nd, 43rd, 44th, 45th, 46th, 47th and 49th Districts.
How in hell the Republicans ever hope to recover power in Oregon under these circumstances is beyond me. And that’s not healthy for Oregon. One party dominance leads to corruption, cronyism, recklessness and abuse of power.
The thing is, if the Republicans would focus on building a strong bench, skillfully build public awareness of those with the greatest potential, encourage them to run for office and back them up with ample financial support, they can win and change the dynamic of state politics.
Look at the 2010 race between Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley. Despite some clear errors in strategy and execution, Dudley captured 694,287 votes, only 22,238 fewer than Kitzhaber’s 716,525. Damn close. More promising for the Republicans, Dudley carried all but 7 of Oregon’s 36 counties.
Lane and Multnomah Counties, two Kitzhaber won, may be a lost cause for Republicans, but if Dudley had been able to peel off more votes in the other 5 he might well have won.
In other words, offer appealing, moderate candidates, back them up with financial resources, run strong campaigns across Oregon and Republicans can win.