DeFazio and Schrader: are they vulnerable in 2018?

What are they smoking?

That was my first thought when I learned Republicans think Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) will be vulnerable in 2018.

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s Chairman Steve Stivers announced on Feb. 8 that DeFazio and Schrader would be among the party’s initial 36 offensive targets in the House of Representatives for the 2018 midterm elections.

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Rep. Peter DeFazio

The Committee’s goal is to keep Republicans in control of the House

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Rep. Kurt Schrader

so they can pursue their agenda in areas such as healthcare reform, a stronger national defense, and job growth.

DeFazio has represented Oregon’s 4th Congressional District since 1987. The district, in the southwest portion of Oregon, includes Coos, Curry, Douglas, Lane, and Linn counties and parts of Benton and Josephine counties.

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Oregon’s 4th District

In his first race, DeFazio won with 54.3 percent of the vote. He won his next 16 races with comfortable leads, with a high of 85.8 percent in 1990 and a low of 54.6 percent in 2010. After a 2011 re-districting gave Democrat-heavy Corvallis to the 4th district, DeFazio won 59.1- 39 percent.

Democrats figured the Corvallis shift guaranteed DeFazio a permanent seat and his seat did seem safe when he won in 2014 with 58.6 percent and in 2016 with 55.5 percent.

Further hurting Republicans has been their failure to put up a strong opponent.

With a weak bench, the Republicans have run the same man, Art Robinson, against DeFazio in each of the past four elections. You’d think they would have learned. The first time, 2010, Robinson lost by 10 points, the second time by 20, the third by 21, the fourth by almost 16.

So, is DeFazio really vulnerable as the National Republican Congressional Committee believes? Maybe.

Consider how Donald Trump did in DeFazio’s district.

Trump handily defeated Hillary Clinton in Coos, Curry, Douglas, Linn and Josephine counties. In Douglas county, Trump racked up 64.6 percent of the vote versus Clinton’s 26.3 percent.

Hillary carried only two liberal enclaves, Lane County, home of the University of Oregon, and part of Benton County, home of Oregon State University, but that was enough.

In the end, Hillary barely carried the 4th District with just 46.1 percent of the vote versus Trump’s 46 percent, a margin of just 554 votes.

That suggests the Republican problem is their candidate and his/her messaging, not the dominance of Democrats.

If the Republicans could recruit a strong moderate candidate able to make persuasive arguments, DeFazio could be in trouble.

As for Schrader, he has represented Oregon’s 5th Congressional District since 2008. The district, in the northwestern portion of Oregon, includes Lincoln, Marion, Polk, and Tillamook counties as well as portions of Benton, Clackamas, and Multnomah counties.

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Oregon’s 5th District

In his first race, Schrader won with 54 percent of the vote. He won his subsequent races with 51.3 percent, 54 percent, 53.7 percent, and 53.5 percent. In 2011, the Oregon State Legislature approved a new map of congressional districts based on updated population information from the 2010 census, but it hasn’t had a meaningful impact on Schrader.

In 2016, Trump took Marion, Polk and Tillamook counties. Clinton carried Lincoln, Benton, Clackamas, and Multnomah counties, winning heavily populated Multnomah 73.3 to 17 percent. In the end, Clinton carried the 5th District with 48.3 percent of the vote versus Trump’s 44.1 percent.

Schrader’s winning margins to date have been consistent and comfortable, but not breathtaking. They would likely have been higher without the presence of multiple other party candidates in the general elections, who have been draining principally liberal votes. In 2016, for example, the Pacific Green Party took 3.4 percent of the votes. In 2014, three other parties captured a total of 6.7 percent of the vote.

Although voter registration trends aren’t consistently matching actual election trends, Schrader’s district is becoming increasingly Democratic, though also more non-affiliated.

In Nov. 2012, there were 158,885 registered Democrats, 148,464 Republicans and 89,539 non-affiliated voters in the district. By Nov. 2016, it had shifted to 176,868 registered Democrats, 155,430 registered Republicans and 135,233 non-affiliated voters.

Is Schrader as vulnerable as the National Republican Congressional Committee believes? I don’t think so. Even though he’s been in Congress fewer terms than DeFazio, his district is likely safer for a Democrat, and becoming more so.

How about DeFazio?

I know, he’s been in office for 30 years and just keeps rolling along, seemingly invincible. But I think he’s more vulnerable than he looks. He hasn’t so much been winning as the Republicans have been losing with uninspiring, ideologically rigid candidates.

My advice to the National Republican Congressional Committee. Don’t divide your limited resources in an effort to capture both seats. Instead, focus on finding a strong moderate candidate to run against DeFazio in 2018, building a war chest sufficient for a credible race and running a sophisticated campaign.

Dennis Richardson showed a Republican can win in Oregon. If the right things fall in place, the 4th District could be next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Avakian and his party are worried

With polls showing Republican Dennis Richardson leading Democrat Brad Avakian in the Oregon Secretary of State race, it looks like Avakian’s supporters are worried.

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Why isn’t this man smiling?

Just in the first three days of this month they pumped $398,915 into his campaign, according to state filings.

Although union members account for just 14.8 percent of wage and salary workers in Oregon, they play a big role in Avakian’s campaign. Union donations in the first three days of November included:

  • The NEA Fund for Children and Public Education – $50,000
  • AFSCME – $30,000
  • Local 48 Electricians PAC (4572) – $15,000
  • American Federation of Teachers-Oregon Candidate PAC (113) – $10,000
  • Ironworkers Political Action League Muti Candidate Committee – $5,000
  • Our Oregon – $5,000
  • Oregon AFSCME Council 75 – $4,000

Some donors to other Democratic candidates may be surprised to learn that another significant source of recent donations to Avakian is the campaign committees of fellow Democratic candidates. In a move that should be prohibited, those committees simply took contributions to them and, in effect, passed them on to Avakian.

These donors include:

  • Friends of Tobias Read – $5,000
  • Sara Gelser for State Senate (4680) – $1,000
  • Blumenauer for Congress – $2,000
  • Friends of Mark Hass (11487) – $1,000
  • Rosenbaum for Senate (Diane) (1430) – $1,000
  • Friends of Lee Beyer (14049) – $5,000
  • Friends of Tina Kotek (4792) – $5,000
  • Reardon for Oregon (15621) – $3,000
  • Kurt Schrader for Congress – $5,000
  • Elect Ellen Rosenblum for Attorney General (15406) – $5,000
  • Friends of Jeff Barker (4270) – $2,000
  • Friends of Jennifer Williamson (15145) – $2,500

Other large contributors to Avakian’s campaign in early November included the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians ($10,000) , the Oregon Health Care Association PAC (275), $5,000) , Cain Petroleum ($5,000) and James D. Fuiten, President of Metro West Ambulance ($5,000).

These recent contributions brought Avakian’s campaign committee total to $2,216,482.79 as of Nov. 3, 2016, substantially more than the $1,490,837.52 raised by Richardson, as of Nov. 4.

We’ll see whether all this loot can pull Avakian ahead.

 

The Clackamas County Commission Chair position is nonpartisan, right?

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Jim Bernard (R) is challenging John Ludlow (L)

The Clackamas County Commission Chair position is nonpartisan, right? Don’t believe it.

The race between Jim Bernard and John Ludlow for Chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners make the partisanship clear.

Start with a look at Bernard’s endorsers in the Oregon Voters Pamphlet:

  • Congressman Kurt Schrader     (Democrat)
  • Representative Brent Barton     (Democrat)
  • Representative Shemia Fagan  (Democrat)
  • Representative Carolyn Tomei (Democrat)
  • Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba (Democrat)
  • Milwaukie UFCW Local 555
  • Oregon League of Conservation Voters (A wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party)

 

Now, let’s look at Bernard’s principal campaign contributors in 2016:

  • United Food and Commercial Workers local 555                            $23,841.46
  • Clackamas County Democratic Central Committee (293)           $12,473.90
  • Blumenauer for Congress                                                                       $ 8,877.79
  • Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37 Political Fund (80)                   $ 7,000.00
  • Oregon AFSCME Council 75                                                                    $ 5,000.00
  • Local 48 Electricians PAC (4572)                                                           $ 4,500.00
  • Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters                         $ 2,650.00
  • AFSCME Local 350 Political Fund                                                          $ 1,500.00
  • Plumbers & Steamfitters PAC (221)                                                      $ 1,500.00
  • Willamette Women Democrats PAC (5534)                                        $ 1,250.00
  • Oregon Laborers Political Action Committee (16480)                    $ 1,000.00
  • Oregon League of Conservation Voters (2352)                                  $ 1,000.00
  • NW Regional Council NCA 91                                                                  $ 1,000.00
  • IUPAT Intl Union of Painters and Allied Trades                                $ 1,000.00
  • Amalgamated Transit Union 757 Political Fund (3094)                  $    800.00
  • Professional Firefighters PAC #3219 (3219)                                        $    750.00
  • Oregon Truck PAC                                                                                        $    500.00
  • Oregon Trail Democrats (10087)                                                             $    300.00

According to records filed with the Oregon Secretary of State, Bernard’s campaign for Clackamas County Chair has raised $176,532.81 in 2016. This includes $18,080.35 in loans and $18,480.35 of in-kind contributions (Total: $36,560.70) to the campaign from Bernard’s Garage Inc.

Subtracting the personal loans and Bernard’s Garage in-kind contributions, Bernard’s campaign has raised $139,972.11. Of that, $74,943.15 has come just from state and federal Democratic party organizations, Democratic office holders and unions.

In other words, at least 54 percent of the contributions to Bernard’s campaign have come from state and federal Democratic party organizations, Democratic office holders and unions.

Still think the Commission Chair race is nonpartisan?

 P.S. – I sent a copy of this story to Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall. She responded “Yes”. Maybe all she read was the headline.

 

 

 

 

 

Oregon’s Republican Party is committing suicide

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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?

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Bud Pierce

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.

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Blue counties: won by Kitzhaber;                 Red counties: won by Dudley

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.