The primary results = mixed bag.

In the governor’s race, Gov. Ted Kulongoski has to face the reality that his “do nothing” administration has cost him substantial support even among Democrat loyalists. Jim Hill, Oregon’s former state treasurer, was underfunded, virtually unknown outside of Salem and Portland, and less than inspiring in his twin campaign themes of higher corporate taxes and support for Oregon’s overly generous Public Employees Retirement System. And yet he polled almost 30% of the Democrat faithful to Kulongoski’s 54%. For a sitting governor to poll less that two-thirds of the voters from his own party should be a huge wake-up call. Voters are responding to the call for leadership and Kulongoski is found lacking in that regard. (The proof of this will be found in whether Kulongoski can identify one initiative to improve the opportunities for Oregonians that doesn’t involve spending more tax dollars, or whether he will be content to simply attack his opponents.)

On the Republican side, Ron Saxton overwhelmed his well-funded and well-known opponent Kevin Mannix, former head of the state GOP. Saxton had about forty percent more votes that Mannix despite Mannix’ superior name recognition and early organizing. In this instance, Saxton focused his energies and considerable resources on delivering messages about leadership and change, about solving government inefficiency, about expecting performance for payment. Mannix chose to spend most of his energies attacking Saxton personally. Let’s hope that Kulongoski makes the same mistake.

But the surprising element of the Republican primary was Jason Atkinson’s strong finish. With very limited resources, little initial name recognition outside of Jackson and Josephine Counties, and few big name supporters, Atkinson still came within a whisker of matching Mannix’ vote total. Atkinson, like Saxton, spent his time and limited resources delivering a message of change, accountability and focused attention on creating a climate for prosperity. It is unfortunate the Oregon does not have a governor-lieutenant governor combo because Saxton and Atkinson would make a potent team.

Races for judicial positions made for another mixed bag. Jack Roberts, the consummate non-partisan politician and Virginia Linder, the consummate career government employee will face each other in the general election. The surprising and gratifying thing about this election was that the trial lawyers well funded candidate, Gene Hallman, finished dead last and not by a little, but by a lot. Hallman was only able to gather half the number of votes of either Roberts or Linder. The trial lawyers should have been able to turn out more votes for Hallman if just they, their staffs, and their runners all voted for Hallman. Shining a bright light on the domination of the judiciary by the trial lawyers will pay dividends in the end. Now, the race between Linder and Roberts will boil down to a contest pitting the trial lawyers and the public employees unions (who will shift their support to Linder) against the people who must pay the bill — the taxpayers — who will hopefully support Roberts.

In another widely watched judicial race, Marion County voter’s returned Paul Lipscomb to the bench despite his apparent conflict of interest in the messy process surrounding the attempt to overturn the popular land use reform initiative — Measure 37. The power of the incumbency, particularly with the ballot notation of “Incumbent” is a substantial advantage and encourages the arrogance that lies with those members of the judiciary who think that the Oregon electorate is too stupid to determine critical policy issues themselves.

Finally, in a vote that can only be described as “enough is enough”, Portland’s uber liberals turned out one of their own — in fact, the poster child for everything “progressive” in Portland. Multnomah County Commission Chair, Diane Linn, was given an unceremonious heave ho by her notoriously liberal constituents after a tenure of mandating gay marriages despite Oregon law, rewarding public employees who failed to show up for work during inclement weather, and wasting taxpayer dollars on one frivolous adventure after another. Commissioner Linn can now retire to her home secure in the self-delusional knowledge that Multnomah County voters were too dumb to appreciate her. And the person who pulled this upset? What difference does it make? This wasn’t a changing of political philosophies in Multnomah County; it was just reloading personnel from the endless supply of uber liberals who have brought Portland to the edge of the economic abyss.

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  • Another item worth mention is the race in east Portland between former Metro Councilor Rod Monroe and entrepanuer T.J. Riley.

    Rod Monroe trounced a young and well funded up and comer. The current race will be a real horse race and should be exciting.

    • PDX

      I wouldn’t exactly call Rod Monroe beating Jessie Cornett by 51%-48% “trounced”

  • David Grappo

    THE KULONGOSKI CAMPAIGN STRATEGY

    I thought the most interesting thing to occur in the primaries was when Governor Kulongoski’s said he would focus his campaign on his accomplishments, rather than attack ads. This could have opened a whole new era in electioneering. Unfortunately, Kulongoski must have run out of things to say; or, maybe I missed the discussion about his accomplishments because it was so short. In any event, I just don’t recall ever hearing about what he thought he had accomplished. I really did want to hear something said on this subject.

    But maybe Kulongoski’s strategy is much more sophisticated than anyone ever imagined. His primary opponents all accused him of being a “do-nothing” leader. The logical advantage of having accomplished nothing is that no one can use attack ads against him because there is nothing to attack. How can you possibly plan an assault on … nothing? Clever!

    Well, actually, Kulongoski did achieve one of the most important campaign promises he made when first elected. He promised that taxes would not be raised. And, by golly, state income taxes have not been raised. It’s true that Kulongoski supported the tax increases of both Measures 28 and 30. But these tax increases were both defeated! So, as promised, taxes have not been raised. By bumbling what he attempted to do, he successfully achieved what he had promised to do. Ted, you came through for us! What a great guy!

  • I would when Jesse Cornet has access to ready activists (i.e. the Bus Project without the bus) and more money than Rod Monroe. Rod Monroe isn’t exactly a great politician and Jesse seems to be a really astute politico.

    I really was surprised that Rod Monroe beat Jesse.

  • Mannix spent most of his time “personally attacking Ron Saxton?”

    Well to start the general election off with that kind of misrepresentation of the campaign is sure a good way to build party loyalty.

    I did not support Mannix and felt that he would get creamed in the general election. That said for you to say that Mannix spent his time personally attacking Saxton is beyond the pale and drives me further away from supporting Saxton.

    I have been holding my thunder to see how the Saxton supporters behave after the primary. Their behavior has been condescending at best and your statement is making it more difficult for conservatives to support Saxton.

    Mannix’s campaign ads pointed out Saxton’s public policy positions. They made no mention about the sexual proclivities (or lack thereof) of Saxton’s backers, as Saxton’s campaign did. Mannix’s campaign ads talked about Saxton’s flip flops and dismal PPS record.

    Please tell me where the “personal” attacks are in that.

    Saxton needs to unite the party at this point and this continued attack on the conservatives is probably not the way to accomplish that. But then again it fits with the early and continued negative campaigning that Ron Saxton carried out during the primary.

    Shame on you Larry for taking this tact.

    • Come on Coyote. Larry praised Jason Atkinson, a conservative candidate, in his analysis. If the attack ads against Saxton just went after his past actions they would not be “personal” but you only have to look at the “committee” name to see the real purpose was to try and link Saxton with a pedaphile. “The Ron Saxton’s real good friend Neal Goldschmidt…Committee” Yeah, that’s not personal.

      Given the Choice between Kulongoski, who tried to raise our taxes twice, Ben Westlund, who wants socialist universal health care, and Ron Saxton, who was the first to raise the PERS alarm, I will unite behind the Republican nominee and try to make Oregon a Red state!

  • Boze, the only people that were trying to connect Ron to the pedophile was the Saxton supporters.

    Those ads had to do with Saxton’s backroom dealing ala Goldschmidt. Stop with the strawmen already.

    No it was not personal number one. And it was not Kevin’s committee number two.

    I happen to know both Clapper and Parks (spent last weekend with him as a matter of fact) and can tell you that they were not working with Mannix.

    As for Larry praising Atkinson, well that is fine. But Kulongouski praises fallen National Guardsmen. Does that mean you give him a pass?

    No, Larry was out of line. You have to make an major leap in logic to say Mannix was personally attacking Saxton and to make that illogical leap after defeating Mannix is merely adding to the idea that the Saxton people have a tin ear with regard to the base and, perhaps the truth.

    yip yip

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