Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Oregon Primary Aftermath

A Progressive Values reader Emailed me a link to this funny commentary on the ongoing problems of GOP 5th Congressional District winner, Mike Erickson, and I'm sharing this illustration here with other readers under the broadly accepted terms of fair use of an illustration since it is what is under discussion here. I don't know where this illustration originated, but it does make a serious commentary on the fact that Mike Erickson did very narrowly manage to win the GOP nomination over perrenial candidate for public office, Kevin Mannix, but is certainly damaged goods in any general election run. The 5th Congressional District is considered to be only one of 15 districts in play in 2008, where either Democrats or Republicans could win. In fact, a GOP Congressional Committee organization is now seeking $1,000 donations from donors with the assumption that they will lose the U.S. Senate again and possiby the presidency, but a handful of seats in Congress are the only real battleground for the GOP to obstruct a Democratic controlled Senate and White House and produce more Washington Gridlock.

The GOP Congressional organization is unfortunately promotiong some outright falsehoods to possible donors in order to secure funds including claims that Barack Obama presents a national security threat to the U.S., would negotiate with terrorists, and that the Democrats are seeking huge tax increases on the average family. The real truth is that Obama has only advocated having some dialogue with Iran similar to the dialogue between the old Cold War-era Soviet Union and the U.S, and has advocated a $1,000 middle class tax cut. However, this hardly the first time that intellectually dishonest arguments have been made by a political campaign seeking donors.

Barack Obama did very well in Oregon, and even Jay Leno had a great joke about that saying that Obama did very well among the more educated and affluent while Clinton won Kentucky. Clever joke or not, it does underlie a weakness among Obama to appeal to more rural voters and more White working class voters who have been traditional strengths for any successful Democrat to the White House. Yesterday's mixed election results with a broad Clinton win in Kentucky and many voters who could possiby defect to McCain in November indicates a serious challenge to Obama who is now around just 73 delegates short of capturing the nomination. If anything, it might have proven a major mistake on the part of the Obama campaign to not spend some money and effort in both West Virginia and Kentucky to not only garner a few more delegates, but also to attract more White working class and rural voters for at least the general election. Normally, the Obama campaign has made few mistakes during this campaign season compared to the Clinton campaign. Where Clinton really lost the nomination this year was in failure to better organize her state caucus efforts. After Clinton came in third place in Iowa, her campaign failed to better organize for the upcoming caucus events and won only the Nevada caucus, losing all the other state caucus events to the Obama campaign. Clinton had no good reason to expect to become the Democratic nominee after losing all but one caucus event. This was nothing short of an electoral disaster for her campaign.

I had also expected Jeff Merkley to slightly upend Steve Novick after his campaign made a good effort in the later weeks before election day to portray himself as a safe and reliable candidate and Novick as a slightly unpredictable loose cannon. Like many early voters who were impressed by Novick's excellent KGW debate performance over the more flat performance of Merkley, I voted for Novick. But then his campaign failed to run as many ads as Merkley, and even Gordon Smith's attack ads may have backfired by singling out only Merkley, making him appear as the likely nominee when he was actually trailing Novick at least earlier in the month. Novick may be brilliant, but his campaign lacked enough leadership that it really threw away the early lead they once enjoyed and only allowed Merkley to sqeeze by. Merkley is a decent enough guy that he has potential to be an effective senator and represent Oregon well. The battle with Gordon Smith will be a difficult battle and too close to call at this time, although you have to assume that Smith may have a slight advantage at this point, although the coattails of a successful Obama run or even failure may spell out the actual senate winner in November.

The race for Attorney General probably turned against candidate Greg Macpherson whose ads were styled after the MAC computer ads, but made his well-qualified former prosecutor opponent, John Kroger, look downright silly. There was likely a backlash by many voters who hated these intellectually insulting attack ads. Macpherson was certainly qualified enough to better represent himself than his ads may have done. By comparison, Kroger appeared to be a more ethical and serious candidate for a serious job such as Attorney General and voters rewarded that with a solid win.

In my own State House District 42, at least three of the four candidates were very well qualified and any of which would have made an excellent member of the legislature. Regan Grey was an aide to Diane Rosenbaum, and had an excellent grasp of the issues and would have worked towards encouraging DMV reform towards encouraging more fuel efficient vehicles. Teddy Keizer ran a clever campaign and was another quality candidate, but the winner, Jules Kopel-Bailey is a brilliant candidate who probably ran the best campaign by far of the three main candidates, personalizing his message to each individual voter and starting very early. He is young enough and smart enough to become a major rising star in Oregon State Democratic Party politics. It's deeeply sad that all three major candidates could not serve because they are each so talented. It was the most difficult choice in years for me as a voter.

The big losers: The Oregon State GOP organization which failed to even field candidates for some statewide offices and getting stuck with damaged candidate Mike Erickson in a race for Congress Republicans might have won with even a half decent candidate. Kevin Mannix also has kept his record of one electoral failure upon another intact, almost making himself into a political joke in the state. At some point you would expect Mannix to realize that it's all over and let others take a run at offices with some chance of actually winning instead.

If there was any surprise to me, it was that Mike Erickson survived enough to limp to a narrow victory over Mannix. As woefully bad as a candidate as Mannix really is, you would think he could at least beat a guy weakened by a terrible abortion scandal in a race smaller than statewide. But Mannix simply proved that he is no longer even a candidate of this standing any longer. This has to be considered the end of the political road for this former liberal George McGovern delegate to the 1972 Democratic Convention and state legislator turned archconservative social issues Republican politician. Mannix is now no longer a serious candidate for any public office in Oregon. He's now just another perrenial "Harold Stassen" joke candidate. Stassen ran unsuccessfully for president at least nine times, and Mannix is fast closing in on similiar absurd numbers for his unsuccessful runs for office in Oregon.

There you have it kids, my take on Oregon primary 2008. Let's get a few comments and thoughts here, heh?


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