|Bennett's Blog: Tough election season ahead|
By Chuck Bennett, Director of Government Relations
It's over. And the outcome was underwhelming.
The few Oregonians who took the time to either mail in their ballot or drop it off for Tuesday's primary election have spoken. Sort of.
In the Governor's race, Ted Kulongoski will represent the Democrats. Ron Saxton will carry the Republican banner. And, the Green Party has a candidate whose name remains unnecessary to learn. Time will tell if Sen. Ben Westlund gets his name on the ballot as an independent candidate.
Turnout was somewhere below 40% and dropping. The theory is that negative campaigns and lackluster candidates just didn't excite the electorate. Okay. Why not? It probably wasn't the re-re-re-run of Seinfeld, and anyone could have made it home from the ballot drop off point in time to watch American Idol and cast their ballot after the 9 p.m. poll opening to determine whether Kat, Taylor or Elliot will make next week's finals.
Statewide, school district measures seeking funds for buildings or local option levies, were universally unsuccessful. Some just lost but many failed as voters stayed away from the polls and turnout left districts without the second half of the double majority requirement -- one more than half of the registered voters taking the time to vote.
There were few surprises in races for the legislature. It was good to see Rod Monroe, former David Douglas School Board member successfully beat back a challenge for a political newcomer. Republican Sen. Charles Starr is still in a neck and neck race with his rival in the Washington, Yamhill and Marion counties' Senate District race. Brad Avakian, a suburban representative, will now move to the Senate, and longtime children's advocate Tina Kotek is going to fill a House seat in a liberal Portland neighborhood.
We're still waiting word on Estacada Junior High principal Kevin Olds' son Ryan, who is a neck and neck race to run against House Education Chair Linda Flores.
After a race-by-race review, it looks fairly clear that Ted Kulongoski is in the race of his career. He barely broke 50% in the Democratic Primary against latecomer Jim Hill and Lane County's Pete Sorenson. But Saxton is emerging from a mud bath with fellow Republican Kevin Mannix and has saddled himself with conservative credentials that haven't played well in moderate Oregon General Elections.
In the State Senate General election, it's clear Democrats will retain control of the upper chamber but at what price? They will be defending 11 seats to the Republicans 4 and there will be some tough races around the state. Keep your eye on the Jackie Winters/Paul Evans race in Marion and Polk counties. Winters is very popular and a well know moderate but Evans is a vigorous and ambitious campaigner with national connections through his wife, who heads Congresswoman Darlene Hooley's staff. Expect big spending in this one.
Word is that Sen. Rick Metsger will have a real challenge from Hood River Republican County Commissioner Carol York. There's no question Sen. Vicki Walker of Eugene is going to have her hands full with former Eugene Mayor Jim Torrey. Expect the Walker/Torrey race to be the most expensive in Oregon history.
On the House side, it would be a worse than long shot bet to put your money on Democrats taking control. It's far more likely that the partisan split will narrow to a one or two vote margin which tends to result in more moderate legislation or more contentious partisan bickering. There are many races to watch just for the entertainment value but the ones that will help decide control and tone of the House next Session will start in Salem with Republican Rep. Billy Dalto and his opponent, Brian Clem. Both are young, ambitious and experienced campaigners. Dalto has made a solid name in health care and as a moderate voice in the increasingly conservative Republican caucus. Clem is a local liberal activist best known for his leadership role in the successful mayoral elections of Mike Swaim. This is going to be a no holds barred slugfest. The Oregon Education Association has already endorsed Clem despite Dalto's vote to oppose the PERS reforms and pass out two school support measures during special sessions.
Another decisive race will be between Democratic Rep. Larry Galizio and former Portland Police Officer Shirley Parsons. Galizio has moderated what was expected to be the most liberal voice in the House and Parsons is a well spoken, no nonsense conservative who is pro-schools, pro-law enforcement and willing to admit she doesn't have all the answers. Expect this one to reach new spending heights in House race election history.
Other races to watch include: Washington County's Rep. Chuck Riley versus Cornelius Mayor Terry Rilling; House Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley of Portland versus Bruce McCain; and Republican Alan Brown's rematch with Jean Cowan in Lincoln County.
CARE, the political action committee for COSA and OSBA, will be making endorsements in most races. We'll keep you posted on that. Between now and then, let us know how you view these and all of the other poltical races headed for the November ballot.
|This page was last updated on Sunday, May 21, 2006 .|