Chuck Adams: Future of conservative Oregon politics

Chuck Adams shares his perspective on how the national climate will help and harm local Republicans during the next campaign cycle and where they go from there.
— By Rebecca Tweed,

It’s not breaking news to anyone that Republicans are coming from behind in the 2010 election cycle, especially in Oregon. But who exactly is to blame and who can we count on to put us back on the upswing? “Republicans are reeling from the last two national election cycles”¦to say the least. The challenge and the debate begins with asking ourselves the tough questions and answering them honestly,” says Chuck Adams, owner of Adams and Company, a political consulting and public affairs firm in Salem, Oregon. Chuck Adams has been running campaigns in Oregon and the Northwest for over 30 years. “What is our philosophy? What matters to our party? And how do we become relevant again?’ We can’t move forward until we have those answers.”

Nationally, we’re seeing a new leadership struggling to navigate in the post-Bush era and the new Obama reign, where Democrats are taking advantage of what ultimately ended being the perfect storm for Republicans and Conservatives across the country. It’s not just about politics”¦it’s about public figures across the board leaving Americans with a cynical, bleak perspective of America as we know it. Between promises not kept by President Obama, sex scandals with US Congressmen and even sports figures using performance enhancing drugs, Americans are disappointed in what leaders represent for them, for their families and for the future of the country.

“Nothing is in isolation and the Republicans don’t have the fall back of the media support, like Democrats do. Every misstep is headline news for days,” says Chuck Adams. “The liberal media doesn’t want to admit they may have jumped too quickly on the Obama bandwagon and they won’t throw him under it until they absolutely have to.”

It wasn’t just the media hype that put President Obama in the Executive Chair. President Obama is probably one of the most charismatic leaders the nation has seen in decades, alongside the likes of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, he found the exact voice of hope and change Americans were looking for in November.

So how do Oregon Republicans disassociate enough from the national negativity and at the same time, rebuild their base and strengthen their position politically?

“The first step would be to find an equally charismatic leader and galvanizing force that can be our spokesperson. Someone that Republicans actually believe in as well and that makes us proud to be Republican, both nationally and locally,” suggests Chuck. “We’re in an era of introspection related to our belief system. Someone needs to make us believe again that it’s okay to be conservative.”

In light of Oregon electoral politics, Adams is right on target. Over the last two election cycles, Oregon has become a bluer state then ever before in legislative races. Our executive and legislative branches are held by the Democrats. A majority of our voters have moved left, even in historically conservative districts and the Democrats have the coattails of Obama to ride through an election year where most voters will vote their party or worse, not vote at all, leaving the incumbent with essentially a yes vote.

Perhaps the best move for conservatives is to go back to speaking policy and principle, rather than party.

“If we’re going to play a numbers game, the Republicans are going to lose,” says Mike Riley, president of Riley Research & Associates, a local polling firm. “Republican leaders have distanced themselves too far from the traditional fiscally conservative platform losing a large number of that electorate. Add in sex scandals from Republican Congressman in the last few years and you’ve then alienated the 25-30% of faith voters. That doesn’t leave us much of a base to rely on looking to the future.”

Riley continues, “The way I see it and how my numbers show it, the Republicans have three options to win future campaigns: 1) Stop alienating so many conservative Republican voters, 2) Win over independent or Democrat conservative voters or 3) Revisit and redevelop the message and philosophy to back to the conservatism that Republicans were proud of, like in the Reagan era. Or try all three, but that will take hard work and leadership.”

Chuck Adams agrees. “I believe the future is less about partisan politics and more about giving Oregonians leadership they want and leadership they deserve. We need a coalition, a team. We need to elect Republicans, Independents and yes”¦even Democrats. We need to be like-minded for the future of Oregon, not for the future of our partisan agendas or our state is going to die.”

It appears that the best step for conservatives in the state of Oregon over the long run appears to be to move center. However, moving to the center means holding true to social value issues, free enterprise and hard work. It also means we need to find a way to credibly engage the electorate in issues relating to healthcare, the environment, education and even crime.

“These four issues are the battle ground for remolding our message and repositioning to find fresh approaches to centrist, compassionate issues,” says Adams who also notes that Oregonians, on both sides, have spent too much time creating a battle of who is with and who is without, leaving every educational, social and economic class spread far apart and angry.

According to both Chuck Adams who devises messages and strategy and Mike Riley who crunches the numbers for that strategy, in order for conservatives to get elected in the state of Oregon in 2010, they have to get to the center, they have to re-package their policies and re-invent their message to find common ground.

“It’s not going to be easy, but Oregon deserves strong, honest leadership with values that reflect their own, which surprisingly are not the same values of the leadership that we currently operate in. It’s going to be hard work, but it’s a fight worth fighting,” concludes Chuck Adams.

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  • Sagano

    The Republican party cannot be just the party of NO. They must be the party of SOMETHING. This will often meaning to have to repeat yourself and your message on key issues many times and sticking with it. This takes discipline. Discipline many do not have.

  • Jerry

    The stupid, idiotic idea of winning over dems or independents is just that – idiotic. It will not work, it never has worked, and to even mention it shows how ridiculous the republicans have become.
    Riley was correct on one thing – RINO repubs have to stop being RINOs.
    It really is that simple.
    And they really are simpletons for not knowing it.
    I say throw all of them out.
    They are worthless.

    • eagle eye

      So you have a plan to win elections with 30% of the vote? Please explain further!

      • Vernon

        Don’t burst his bubble now.

    • dartagnan

      “A growing political movement is busy winning converts. A dying political movement is busy purging heretics.”

      I don’t remember who said that, but it’s true. The Republican Party is now at the heretic purging stage, and you want it to purge more. If you want to be a permanent minority party, that’s the way to do it.

  • John Q Public

    The reason I am registered as an Independent is that I dislike almost everything that the traditional two parties have done to this country and to each other. I vote for the “best person” available or not at all.

    We no longer have a two party system that we traditionally formed. The only thing that politicians eagerly embrace is money and power. There is no legal balance of power in our system(s). It is either ideological right or left. There are only millionaires in office, the elite.

    We the people are always an afterthought to the elected leaders. Special interests are the guiding principals that govern this country now. We are fed a dog and pony show to appease the masses.

    If we the people as a whole dumped our two parties today we would realize that we are truly a free people. I say this “If we had a third party made up of common, real people without the free rein of the corruption from the two parties, we would realize true freedom.”

    The only way this can be done is with some real dedicated leaders, true patriots. Are there any left in America?

    Take only the best from the two parties and make a third. Make all who want to lead sign a contract. An oath of compliance to the people. Only vote and legislate following the constitution(s) local, state and federal. If the contract is broken you are out. No recourse to fight it. Term limits are a must unless the people authorize more time.

    Lead from the middle and reduce the size of the government to a proportional size that fits the population. Gradually and at a reasonable rate as not to shock the system.

    No more secrets, no more federal reserve. no more non citizens being elected to office, no more sweet deals, no more golden parachutes. no more elites or kings, no more tax dodgers, no more liberals, no more conservatives, no more communists, no more socialists, no more marxists, no more george soros, no more illegal aliens, NO MORE CRIMINALS!

    Are you tired of living in a two party system? Find some good leaders to start the process. If you had a choice of a third party and they offered you a true honest way, would you take it?

    A true enforceable contract with America and real freedom.

    How is your party and government work for you now?

    Not so good huh?

  • Bob Tiernan

    *Sagano:*

    The Republican party cannot be just the party of NO.

    *Bob T:*

    Depends on what the question is. Sometimes “No” is the appropriate response (for example, to a bill that would publicly fund a millionaire’s baseball stadium).

    On the other hand, a number of things need reform because there are already too many regulations squashing efficiency, choice, and success, and saying “No” to more regulations is not good enough. An example in one state was when Tennessee’s good ol’ boyz’ controls on who was allowed to sell caskets was in need of deregulation, and it took the courts to do it because the so-called free-enterprise Republicans never fought for people like the Reverend Craigmiles. But the Institute For Justice did (the ACLU of property and economic rights). Here’s the story:

    http://www.heartland.org/policybot/results/283/Urning_an_Honest_Living.html

    I’m sure that whenever progressives in Tennessee heard of any state lawmaker trying to deregulate this industry, they spewed the “Look out, it’s de-regulation again! We must stop it!”

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

  • Bob Tiernan

    The lesson from the past few years (or anytime, mostly) is that the economy is by far the main issue. We’ve had loads of Republicans across the country who made it sound as if stopping abortions and having prayer time in school were the most important issues, and cared little about economics (except their own pork). The result was that they either lost to a Democrat who supported terrible economic policies, or got elected and supported terrible economic policies. The Repubs were so dreadful the past decade that they allowed the Dems to appear to most voters to be the best party when it came to economic policies. It takes real stupidity to accomplish that. But it doesn’t take much willpower at all to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

    • capor

      Well Bob, as my party’s leader in Oregon, what is YOUR plan to make this problem go away? A big part of the problem in my view has been the leadership at your level over the past few election cycles. We don’t need you to patronize us about the need to get more responsible candidates. We know that. We don’t want any more Ericksons or Marino’s, and I don’t think we want another Mannix run at anything.

      What most of us really want Bob is a community member that has earned respect from accomplishments in their field of business, isn’t looking for a career politician position, doesn’t care if their vote goes against the union, I mean lobby pressure, has a clean record, respects family values, listens and communicates well, has an understanding and commitment to the state and US constitutions, and takes the job seriously even if it is for one term.

      What can you show me Bob? What Hero can I get behind? I know this is alot of pressure, but this is your job. If I were in your job, you can darn well bet that I would be telling you who they might be. I promise.

    • Anonymous

      Bob, I would have to say that you dont understand. I have been a life long Republican and the fact that you just want to poke some Democrat in the eye everytime you say “this is what we stand for” proves that you are out of touch with the grass roots of your own party. In fact I live in Eastern Oregon and I have yet to hear or see you bring party leadership to the east side of the state (and Bend is not considered Eastern Oregon) to see how we out here seem to have kept Republicans the majority party. We dont want you coming out he to tell us to yell and shout or to polarize every topic. I am so proud that we have outstanding Representatives and Senators her in northeast oregon. I mention them because like the article they served their constituents toward the middle ground and yet never compromissed conservitative priniciples.They just didn’t vote one way because a party told them to. They asked, “I want to undersand why we are being asked to vote this way? I dont just want to vote “no” just because the democrates voted “yes?”

      Yet I remeber you tearing them down. (Not the job of the Party Chairman) I see now that the legislative assembly has ajourned that the Republicans that followed your advice achieved little for their districts and yet ours were able to take care of us. That is why I voted to send them there, Not for you to use them for promoting your black/white agenada. Chuck’s article is right on. We just need that idea in our Republican Leadership.

  • Bob Tiernan

    *capor:*

    Well Bob, as my party’s leader in Oregon, what is YOUR plan to make this problem go away?

    *Bob T:*

    Sorry, but I’m not that Bob Tiernan. Not even related.

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

  • By the Sea

    The Adams man knows what to do, but can he do it. Many Republicans know what to do but getting there is where it will never happen. This si why Oregon politics is so dull.

  • Anonymous

    Bob,
    Why the heck don’t you just use Robert T. or some other version of youe real name and stop the perpetual confusion.
    No oiffense but I can’t imagine what your thinking is?

    I understand your wishing to use your own name but it obvioulsy is causing people to think you are someone else. And many people never see the correction.

  • Bob Tiernan

    *anonymous:*

    Bob,
    Why the heck don’t you just use Robert T. or some other version of your real name and stop the perpetual confusion.

    *Bob T:*

    I don’t see why I should have to. I go by Robert in person, for some people, but Bob it’s been for many years in writing etc. (The addition of “Portland” should help for most people). If you address what I write then there should be no problem.

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

    • Barack Obama

      I believe it is important for us to lower taxes, cut spending, and restore freedom to America. And I truly mean that, or my name is not Barack Obama.

      Of course, it isn’t PRESIDENT Barack Obama. We’re not even related.

      Seriously, I don’t care what your name is, but posting under “Bob Tiernan” on a conservative site in Oregon surely implies that you are Bob Tiernan, head of the Oregon GOP. By using your name, even if it is your actual real name, without some clear differentiation is deception at best and outright fraud at worst. The Bob Tiernan who IS the head of the Oregon GOP would be well within his rights to take legal action over your posts here.

      There is no reason, NONE WHATSOEVER, that you can’t use a more appropriate handle. So do it.

    • Sagano

      In addition, the other Tiernan may only be chair for a awhile, so why change one’s name for teh sake of a person who is only in the limelight for a short while.

      • Anonymous

        Same could be said for Obama…

    • Anonymous

      Actually the fact that you put Portland makes it worse. The ORP Bob moved the ORP headquarters to Portland

  • Vernon

    The Republicans should go on a statewide tour. Spend a little ad money, focus on core message as the Riley feller says, work as a group. You have to do something different if you desire to stand out and this would be very different.

  • v person

    “Nationally, we’re seeing a new leadership struggling to navigate in the post-Bush era and the new Obama reign, where Democrats are taking advantage of what ultimately ended being the perfect storm for Republicans and Conservatives across the country. ”

    It was a man-made storm. Conservatve and Republican men (and women) that is. The latest census data demonstrate how just how bad Conservative and Republican economics is.

    Under the Bush presidency, median income of Americans DECLINED by over $2000 (4%). It had INCREASED 16% under Clinton. The proportion of Americans living under the poverty line INCREASED 26% under Bush, after having DECREASED 17% under Clinton. The number of children living under the poverty line INCREASED 21% under Bush, and DECREASED 24% under Clinton. The stock mrket fell to 1998 levels under Bush, as did American wealth. Yikes. No wonder he scurried out of town.

    Conservatives never admit to this, but Bushanomics was simply a reprise of Reaganomics. Both passed massive tax cuts concentrated at the high end, ramped up military spending, and failed to cut much domestic spending. Under both presidents, poverty rates increased and deficits increased.

    And now Conservatives and Republicans want Americans to forget all this, fight Obama’s economic policies, and then what? Re-elect conservatives and Republicans to do exactly what they did before that got us into this mess? I think you need a new program folks. Either that or hope for very short memories.

  • Bob Tiernan

    *valley person:*

    Conservatives never admit to this, but Bushanomics was simply a reprise of Reaganomics.

    *Bob T:*

    Well, hardly. But keep in mind that even when Reagan was president our economy was (as now) a highly and over-regulated economy with an oversized bureacratic government to be paid for. No one ever claimed that free enterprise reigns merely because taxes are cut and a few regulations are deleted. Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Johnson, Nixon, doesn’t matter. It’s the post-New Deal and Great Society economy and it’s highly manipulated by corrupt politicians as well as a few honest ones who know little or nothing about basic economics.

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

    • v person

      Tell me Bob, how did Bush’s economic policies differ from Reagans? Both passed large tax cuts. Both substantially increased defense spending. Both substantially increased entitlement spending. Both deregulated. Both witnessed financial system failures (S&Ls for Reagan, Investment banks for Bush,) and both ran up massive deficits.

      What did I miss? What did one do that the other did not?

  • Beaverton Working Guy

    Chuck Adams of all people should not be lecturing us about how to win elections. He has been a major reason why Republicans have lost races and control of the state legislature. His centrist campaigns have diluted the Republican message and more to the point he has charged candidates far too much money for his services. Adams can take a $200,000 campaign and make it worth $100,000 in a heart beat by overcharging, something he routinely does.

    A legislative candidate goes out and raises his first $50,000 and gets all excited about his early success. Then he turns that money over to Adams and finds it barely kick-started the Adams money eating machine, which charge two or three times what his services are worth.

    Furthermore, Republicans should either stick to the conservative message and live or die with it or they are not worth electing. The kind of candidates Adams and Riley suggest are not worth fighting for and when they win they are not worth having. I would rather lose than elect more of the Norma Paulus, Mark Hatfield, Vic Atiyeh, Gordon Smith type Republicans.

    • Anonymous

      Ditto.

  • Zero

    Boy, that touched a nerve with someone.

  • Bob Tiernan

    *B.O.:*

    Seriously, I don’t care what your name is, but posting under “Bob Tiernan” on a conservative site in Oregon surely implies that you are Bob Tiernan, head of the Oregon GOP.

    *Bob T:*

    Key word is “Portland” (as opposed to “Lake Oswego”). Get used to it.

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

  • Don D

    I’m confused. At the top this article states that Adams will share his perspectives but it’s written by Rebecca Tweed who appears to offer her own commentary throughout.

    Case in point:
    Nationally, we’re seeing a new leadership struggling to navigate in the post-Bush era and the new Obama reign, where Democrats are taking advantage of what ultimately ended being the perfect storm for Republicans and Conservatives across the country. It’s not just about politics…it’s about public figures across the board leaving Americans with a cynical, bleak perspective of America as we know it. Between promises not kept by President Obama, sex scandals with US Congressmen and even sports figures using performance enhancing drugs, Americans are disappointed in what leaders represent for them, for their families and for the future of the country.

    Since the lines are not in quotes or attributed to Adams, are they his thoughts or the writer’s?

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