Oregonian endorses Knute Buehler!

Check this out from Oregonian Editorial Board, 10-7-12

Oregonians have been reluctant in recent years to elect Republicans to statewide office. They have reason to end that streak in November by voting for Knute Buehler, an independent-minded challenger who will bring leadership and fresh ideas to an office in need of both.

Buehler can’t boast incumbent Kate Brown’s experience in elected positions. However, he’s an exceptionally well-rounded candidate with an impressive professional career and experience pushing, through the initiative process, for beneficial election reforms. An Oregon State grad, he studied politics and economics at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship before heading to medical school. Buehler’s interest in politics is long-standing, as his graduate experience suggests, and includes a stint working for Ross Perot’s presidential campaign.

Voters might wish for a term or two in the Legislature, say, to flesh out Buehler’s résumé. But long experience in elective office doesn’t guarantee stellar performance. Over the past 20 years-plus, Brown has become a fixture in Salem, first as a legislator and then, beginning in 2009, as secretary of state. This experience has led neither to memorable leadership as the state’s top election officer, nor to immunity from high-profile blunders.

Just months ago, in fact, her office gave the two candidates for labor commissioner a last-minute notification that their election would occur in November rather than May. Both Bruce Starr and Brad Avakian were surprised by the news, which they received after the filing deadline. Starr tried unsuccessfully to challenge the switch, which, he argued, helped Avakian. Though the office of labor commissioner is nonpartisan, Starr is a Republican and Avakian, like Brown, a Democrat.

This episode is far more likely to be a simple mistake than a nakedly cynical attempt to help a fellow party member, as some have alleged. And it isn’t, by itself, justification to turn Brown out of office. But it has eroded public confidence in Brown, if not the office itself, and it’s one reason for voters to give serious consideration to Buehler, who is anything but rigidly partisan. Heck, the guy contributed $2,500 to John Kitzhaber’s gubernatorial campaign in the 2010 election.

Buehler’s nonpartisan bent and his familiarity with issues relevant to the office are evident in his involvement with 2008’s unsuccessful Measure 65, which would have created a top-two primary. Buehler served on the steering committee for the measure, which was proposed by former Secretaries of State Phil Keisling and Norma Paulus. He also worked on a similar initiative in 2006 that failed to qualify for the ballot.

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Election endorsements by The Oregonian editorial board
Buehler’s support for the top-two primary has waned since then, and he now prefers a less open model he refers to as an “Oregon solution.” It would create primary ballots for qualified minor parties such as the Independent Party, which now represents about 81,000 registered voters, and all parties would be encouraged to open their primaries. This is a step in the wrong direction, and we hope Buehler as secretary of state will rediscover his enthusiasm for the top-two model. Still, it’s more innovative than what Brown has to offer, which is a dutifully stated commitment to ask the two major parties to open their primaries. Ho, hum.

Buehler and Brown also differ on the matter of legislative redistricting, a once-a-decade task that falls to the secretary of state whenever the Legislature can’t come up with a plan. Buehler would prefer to take the task out of partisan hands and give it to an independent commission, an idea that deserves serious consideration. Brown says the current process works just fine, though she’s “watching” what’s going on elsewhere. Not much enthusiasm for new ideas there, either.

Buehler, notably, has introduced the condition of the Public Employees Retirement System to the campaign, vowing to use the office’s bully pulpit to seek reforms, which, of course, would help the numerous government entities subject to examination by the secretary of state’s Audits Division. Fixing PERS has little to do with the secretary of state’s formal role, but Buehler’s position is a reminder that secretaries frequently run for — and can inherit — higher office.

Neither Buehler nor Brown would rule out an eventual gubernatorial run. And Brown, by way of explaining her long list of union endorsements, said, “They’re concerned about who might be next in line for governor.” Voters should be, too.

Both candidates say they would like to make the office’s Corporations Division more business-friendly. But Buehler, unlike Brown, actually has an extensive business background. Not only is he a partner in a large medical practice, but he sits on the board of St. Charles Health System, one of central Oregon’s largest employers.

Brown is a smart, energetic official with a long record of public service. But she’s had her shot at this office, and it’s time for a change. Voters should elect Buehler.

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  • Ralphie Buffalo

    Oregonian should have endorsed Robert Wolfe, candidate of the Oregon Progressive Party. His Voters’ Pamphlet statement says:

    Occupation:
    Selling Oregon wines worldwide (25 years)

    Occupational
    Background:
    Journalist, with investigative reporting
    awards

    Educational
    Background:
    College

    Prior Governmental
    Experience:
    None (enough)

    RECLAIM THE INITIATIVE
    PROCESS

    Kate
    Brown’s policies stop normal citizens from
    using Oregon’s initiative process. Her arbitrary and hyper-technical requirements discard over 40% of all voter signatures, so only big corporations and unions can
    afford to use the system.

    2000-02 saw 13 progressive measures on the
    Oregon ballot, including guaranteed school funding, single-payer health care,
    and the nation’s highest minimum wage.

    2008-10, with Kate Brown’s bad rules,
    saw only ONE progressive measure on the
    Oregon ballot (medical marijuana dispensaries).

    GET
    BIG MONEY OUT OF OREGON
    POLITICS

    In
    2006, Oregon voters enacted in Measure 47 the nation’s strictest limits on
    campaign contributions, while requiring political ads to disclose
    their funding sources and amounts.

    Kate
    Brown refuses to enforce Measure 47, so campaign spending on Oregon races
    has continued to skyrocket from $4 million in 1998 to $57 million in
    2010 (not including Congress). Individual Legislative candidates spend up to $1 million and more. Oregon politicians spend more on legislative races, per capita, than in any state except New Jersey. (Oregonian (4/6/2010))

    Kate
    Brown “has been silent on campaign finance reform and otherwise largely invisible,” says Willamette Week (5/25/2012). In 2008 she smashed the record for Secretary of State campaign spending ($1.2 million), taking contributions as high as $135,000 from a single union and over $116,000 from lawyers and lobbyists.

    STOP
    GOVERNMENT INCOMPETENCE

    As
    “Auditor in Chief,” Kate Brown’s accountants “audited” the Oregon Department of
    Revenue 3 times in the past 2 years but failed to detect huge fraudulent tax refunds, including a $2.1 million refund
    in 2012 to a woman who had never reported significant income. TurboTax
    discovered this fraud that Kate Brown
    missed. What else is out there?

    • guest

      Will a write-in vote for Wolfe end the Dem/crony administration of Brown or assure her reelection? Thanks for the cursory review of Brown yet her malfeasance will continue if she’s not voted out and a so-called progressive candidate candidate just won’t cut it.

      Best for OR, recall Kitzhaber, replace him with Allen Alley; replace Brown with Beuhler and replace golden ploy treasurer Wheeler with Telfer. Yes, Cox is a good candidate, too – but Labor commissioner would be a better fit.

      • Ralphie Buffalo

        It is not a write-in vote. Robert Wolfe is on the ballot.

        • guest

          Without a ‘unified’ vote to send Brown packing, the predictable reslut ’twill be a “write-off” instead of gain.

          Reality cheque: Too bad, so sad if Brown gets 50.01% of the vote – indeed, she sure as heck knows how to administer that.

          Rx for Oregon’s Constitution: Staging a runoff when no candidate garners 50%. Indeed, that’s one ‘right’ thing about weird Portland…even if what’s left usually gets their sway.

          Egad-zooks! ‘mourning’ line odds currently ‘indict’ a Kate Brown smiling, Mr Bison. Nuts!

  • Oregon

    Does he have any sort of campaign? Enough to hurt Brown?

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