Who won the Dorchester Debate?

The Dorchester debate between the three Republican candidates for Governor is officially in the books. Who do you think won? Did anyone exceed your expectations? Which of the messages resonated with you “¦ are you in search "a government that respects you"(Atkinson) “¦ would you prefer to “handing a pink slip to the Oregon government” (Mannix) “¦ or does your candidate want to deal “with the failure of leadership in Oregon?” (Saxton)

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Posted by at 10:05 | Posted in Measure 37 | 39 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jason Atkinson took the debate.

    Mannix’s game has risen a little bit and Saxton is about par for the course (the best schtick money can buy) – both were talking about “reform” of government.

    Atkinson on the other hand offered a vision for how this reform would take place as opposed to just promising to cut dead-wood. Atkinso promises an Oregon government that “respects the people” as a first goal. It’s been along time since I’ve seen a politician talk about the need for government to be a partner with the voters and a posative outlook for how these reforms can be implemented.

  • Anonymous

    Atkinson and Saxton were head and shoulders above Mannix. Both stuck to their core message and brought energy to the debate than Mannix.

    Saxton made a solid case for winning – and it seems he has the team to do it; organized, experienced and focused.

    After twenty plus years of Democrats, it’s a message that’s tough to ignore.

    • cameron turner

      Who won the debate? Without a doubt Kevin Mannix. Why you ask? He has stolen a masterfully written play from the playbook of Dino Rossi (remember him; Republican who won, won, and then lost in Washington’s governor’s race) who always talks about the coarsening of those within government. I say he stole from his playbook because Dino always talks about creative solutions which is the cure for the disease of coarsening; exactly the strategy of Mannix. It is not rethoric either. Mannix has created the judge’s corp and will create the teachers’ corp in order to add stability to Oregon’s future; it’s youth. He stole the debate with substance and experience…epitomizing the “little engine that could”. However, Atkinson was very good and it is clear these are are two best hopes and candidates.

  • J. A. Hoffman

    In truthfull answers and heart, Atkinson and Mannix were tied. Saxton was below on everything, heart, passion and true republican ideals. Atkinson is young, Mannix is the guy and Saxton is the liberal republican.

  • PTFC

    Unfortunately the questions were softballs that didn’t really differentiate the candidates or challenge them on thier positions. Nevertheless, Saxton and Atkinson appeared the more polished and electable. I wish there were more opportunities to talk about the issues rather than simply giving vague and fluffy answers. I appreciated Saxton’s attempts to bring in some real substance to the debate and would give him the victory on that basis. Atkinson sounded good, but there was very little substance beneath his broad and safe generalizations. I don’t think Mannix convinced anyone (other than his pre-decided supporters) that he deserves another chance. He said that the last time a republican governor won the ellection it was a rematch from the previous gubanatorial contest – that was a loooong time ago and hardly a basis to believe the same result will happen this year.

  • Andrew

    Saxton and Atkinson both brought a fresh approach and welcome energy to the heated debate about the future of Oregon, but Saxton clearly won this debate, with a balance of passion and real world credentials. Carrying himself with the poise of a future governor, it was Saxton who ran away with this one.

    We all felt like being at a blazer game with the thunder sticks, but they sure were a much more welcome sight than the “wanted” signs from the mannix campaign. Who is it that actually wants him? the crime could certainly be misdirecting the oregon republican party, but the bigger question should be: with all these hired young guns from portland state, why cant they catch him?

    Its time we stopped putting our stock and votes behind perrenial candidates and elected someone whose credentials arent based on time in the broken legislature.

    In a nutshell, thats why i am casting my straw poll vote for Ron Saxton

  • Anonymous

    Give Saxton credit for driving the debate – Mannix and Atkinson are talking his talk – reforming government is now the theme of the day.

    The previous post is right – Saxton had energy and passion, something he hasn’t shown in the past. His message about winning is important.

  • Anonymous

    Atkinson is one of the best republican candidates for Governor that Oregon has ever seen. Out of all those running in this year’s Gubernatorial race — he *is* the best.

    With heart, passion, and clear committment prevalent in his words, any Oregonian should see that when Jason Atkinson says he will work to rebuild government so that it respects us, he will deliver.

    Although the other candidates held their own last night in the debate at Dorchester, Jason Atkinson prevailed with respect towards the other candidates and proved his character, honesty, and devotion to Oregonians.

    The Republican party needs Jason Atkinson — Oregon needs Jason Atkinson.

  • HJS

    While both Atkinson and Saxton brought energy to the debate, it was Saxton who clearly the winner because he brought concrete ideas to the forefront. Ron was the candidate who brought real answers complete with action items to the questions that are hindering our state. He is the candidate that can hear and respond to the differing needs of our state’s population. He can win.

  • Edubya

    Saxton by a nose. It was a fairly lackluster debate as dictated by the silly feel-good questions directed to the candidates. Saxton deserves some credit for trying to take real positions (rather than Mannix’s attempt to spin history in his favor and Atkinson’s overt appeal to establish an emotional connection), but the format didn’t really help any of them stand out.

    Too bad.

  • Anon

    Saxton has the vision and the leadership to lead Oregon. Jason did very well last night and is great in the debates. However, convincing people to like him does not necessarily translate into convincing people that he would make a good governor. Kevin gives the same speech everytime about how he came close last time and deserves another chance. He only came close because Kulongoski ran such a horrible campaign. Saxton or Roberts would have easily won and we would have a Republican governor this very moment.

  • In my biased opinion, Jason won handily. I perceived a noticable surge in audience applause and support after Jason’s words compared to his opponents. He spoke about positive change and redefining the role of government, not just issuing platitudes about what he thinks voters want to hear. And I look forward to reading his new book.

    The “Brokeback” bit really zinged it!

    And in all fairness, I was pleasantly surprised by Kevin Mannix. People who have read my words know I haven’t held Mannix in high regard, but he was very articulate and positive. I especially appreciated his congeniality towards Jason.

    Saxton… well… he came across as a bit nerdy and out of place. He might make a good bureaucrat or policy advisor, but he really lacked the charisma necessary to win over voters in a leadership role.

  • Shadow

    Mannix and Saxton are both Lawyers and you can tell just by the way they talk to the audience, And I’m not talking about them being polished speakers, Jason is plenty polished, but he doesn’t talk down to his audience like he is absolutely the smartest man in the room. Jason genuinely asked for our vote and explained his opinion on gubenatorial service. Mannix and Saxton basically demanded our votes…

    For my money, I’ll take Atkinson

  • Emilie

    I have seen six of these multi-candidate debates. I have watched Saxton hone and polish his rhetoric. He is an excellent speaker, but guess where he got his ideas, folks?


    Here’s the progression, Folks: Jason Atkinson expresses an original idea that he really believes in, it’s obvious it resonates with citizens, and the next thing you know, Saxton has taken the idea back to his campaign, and is saying the same thing! This happened with immigration. This happened very specifically last night when Saxton said “eliminate” the capital gains tax; up until now he’s only said “reducing”, while Atkinson has said “eliminate” since September.

    On style points, one could have heard a pin drop during Atkinson’s closing remarks. People hung on his words. In stark contrast, an unmistakeable murmur ran through the crowd during both Saxton and Mannix’s closing remarks.

    Atkinson is the real deal.

  • Kevin Mannix was the CLEAR victor in last night’s debate.

    Ron Saxton, typically, came in last. His lackluster speaking style and unconvincing posture earned him, again, a last place finish.

    Jason Atkinson is the future of the party in Oregon. His answer to one question in particular was so charismatic and evocative that it prompted Mannix to simply say: “isn’t he great?” If Atkinson would have made that exception the rule, he would be the clear victor. But he didn’t. When he gains more experience, he will be simply unstoppable.

    Mannix was the most polished speaker, as always, and gave the most substantive policy responses.

  • Let us look at 3 levels:

    1) Crowd Popularity: Atkinson won out on the applause meter. Many of his statements garnered very solid applause, unlike Saxton who had to rely on noisemakers (annoying ones, too) to try and one-up. Mannix’s applause seemed tepid.

    2) Issues: Atkinson, overall, covered everything well. He was strong on the respect aspect and strong on the budget issues. Saxton was strong on PERS. That was primarily it. Mannix…didn’t he endorse Atkinson last night? Sure sounded like it.

    3) Post-debate mullings: Atkinson won, hands down. I heard more buzz about Atkinson than any other candidate. People were talking, and many people made their decisions last night. It was Atkinson all the way.

    Atkinson kicks. That’s all that needs to be said.

  • In terms of who won the debate, things like applause and supporter presence are irrelevant.

    To begin, Saxton clearly came in last. He always does. He is the least charismatic and makes the least compelling arguments.

    Between Atkinson and Mannix, it’s clear they are great friends. But it didn’t sound like Mannix endorsed Atkinson at all. In fact, Atkinson made Mannix look like the nicest guy ever. Atkinson is an impressive candidate and speaker, but he has problems keeping his most impressive moments going. Both gave great answers, but Mannix, hands down was the more consistent and polished candidate.

    Edge: Mannix

  • JDM

    This debate was a true battle of wills. A struggle of ideals and missions. We have seen these candidates present their ideas and their goals, yet who came out on top? As a general Mannix supporter I am naturally inclined to support him. Yet Atkinson presented himself very well, I must admit he looks very appealing. Not only was Atkinson interesting, motivated and convincing but he clearly has the traits of a great leader, a true republican and an all around good guy. Mannix pushed his message home, delivered a strong performance and clearly showed his potentia.
    Out of these three, Saxton clearly fell on his face. I could easily compare him to a plane spiralling out of control and a candidate clearly on his way to ground zero. I am new to this political stuff so I generally judge people off of character and not on their practiced presentations. Saxon did NOT make me feel confident, assured or inspired in ANY way. He simply lacked any characteristic of a confident leader, most of all he seemed to lack any connection to the audience in general. Were Mannix and Atkinson thrived, he dived. In the end I back Atkinson despite my ‘general allegiance’ to Mannix. Atkinson was interesting, precise and strong. When it comes time to back a candidate, back Atkinson because he has your back!

  • Well, what can you say. Jason Atkinson, a relitive unkown with less money then the two “frontrunners” appeals to everyone.

    Just read the comments above, I can summarize for you.

    – Those who are Saxton supporters sing the same tune, “Saxton and Atkinson both did well, but Mannix is same old same old….” (note, very little negative with regard to Jason Atkinson).

    – Those who have already made there mind up to support Kevin Mannix state, “Jason Atkinson did well, but why not support the candidate with the provden abvility to win, Keven Manix. Ron Saxton gave his usual vaugely liberal/moderate response… (Note, little negative to say with regard to Atkinson.

    They key to this, in my assessment, is that Jason has not dissapointed anyone. In fact, there is little negative to say with regard to how Jason Atkinson spoke, or the contect of his message.

    The most impressive aspect of this debate was the fact that the truly undecided amung us are now on the Atkinson campaign (not counting the one-issue pro-choice Republicans who will forever support the “Saxton” type of candidate).

    This campaign will be decided by the candidate who has the ability to do one thing, not get there own message out, but hope Jason Atkinson’s message doesn’t get out. I gaurantee that Mannix is hoping that his name recognition, and Jason’s relative lack of funds will do just that.

    Saxton is simply hoping that the RINO’s are simply too caught up in the “right-wingers can’t win in Oregon” philosophy that the primary is won by those who fear a true conservative to the point that they give there support to him by default.

    The amazing thing is that the old, the young, the college educated, the moderates, and the religious conservatives are all impressed with Jason Atkinson. I see numerous people with there red Mainstream Republican stickers on the right side of their shirt, and an Atkinson sticker on the left.

    Think about it, what do we want in the general election? A candidate who 1/3 of the party dislikes, or a bridgebuilder who can transcend the usual falling out between the liberal and conservative wings of the Republican Party? I’d put my money on the Republican who can moderate his losses in Multnomah County with his conservationist message, and a candidate who can excite the base of the Republican Party (the argument that I made in the prior 6 paragraphs), and a candidate who has the youth and appeal to swing the suburban voters who are disenchanted with the current misadministration.

    I say, as Republicans, for God’s sake (I actually mean that literally too), give us a chance in the general election, vote for Jason Atkinson in the primary. It’s time for something new (please note, I was born after the last time we held the governor’s mansion, that is depressing).


  • Adrienne Kelly

    Saxton was the winner in terms of gubernatorial presence, wry humor and substance. Returning to the era of Hatfield, Packwood and Atiyeh, Saxton presented real ideas and perspective different from the other candidates – Jason and Kevin were gracious and Saxton had his usual luck this time in getting center position. It’s hard to ignore the karma for Saxton this time – the Lars endorsement, the momentum and a candidate clearly more comfortable this time around.

  • Brian Krieg

    During the debate Saxton clearly laid out his credentials and capabilities to successfully manage the state’s executive branch – our largest corporation. His long and successful business experience makes him the strongest candidate in the field.

  • First… I have been an Atkinson supporter since last April.

    Now that that is out of the way. Yes Jason won last night. Although they all performed very well.

    I have concerns whenever politicos start saying “there were not enough specifics,” or “what is the PLAN?” My concern is that you normally hear that talk when the candidate of the moment is not doing so well.

    It is an easy position to fall back on because it is so abstract.

    My other concern is that I thought, until last night the elimination of the cap gains tax was not one of Ron Saxton’s priorities. I may be wrong but I thought that he indicated that it is now.

    The concern is that here https://nwrepublican.blogspot.com/ we see an AP story that lists the candidates top three priorities.

    Not that I am complaining. It just means that with Atkinson in the race it is pulling Ron Saxton to a more conservative position.

  • Tim Lyman

    Saxton was more polished than I have seen him in the past, but I think Atkinson had more spontaneous response from the crowd. The Saxton supporters were clearly well organized and rehearsed. I would suggest banning those #$%^&@ noisemaker tubes from future debates.

  • Michael A.

    Eighteen members of the Southwest Oregon Republican Club were present. Before the debate we were at 6 Atkinson, 6 Saxton, 3 Mannix and 3 Undecided.

    After the debate, we were at: 14 Saxton, 4 Atkinson and 0 Mannix.

    After we polled ourselves, we talked a little about our “gut” reaction. For the most part, Atkinson is a good guy, but comes off pretty green still (still – Sec. of State Atkinson?). Saxton comes off a bit nerdy, but he has the skill sets to win and be a force for reform. Kevin should get a real job and pay down his own damn debt.

    • Revisionist history eh? Are you sure you aren’t a Democrat?

      I must have been talking to the worng people, watching the wrong debate, and seeing different guys, because your assessment is simply incredible.

  • White Devil

    Wasnt there, but my sense has not changed after reading these posts. Saxton is on-message and is probably the most electable of the bunch. Atkinson may have a bright future in Oregon politics, but is nowhere near ready for prime time. Mannix will have his supporters, but he’s washed up. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that it’s time to go all-in with Saxton. Bottom line, he has the best chance of winning the race and would at least be a step in the right direction for Oregon.

  • White Devil,

    I am sorry to say that your “sense” is wrong. There have been two polls in the last week comparing the candidates with the Democratic field. In both polls Atkinson fares better than the other two.

    There was a Portland Business Journal online poll recently in which Ron Saxton beat out Atkinson by one percentage poing and both candidates beat the Democrat. That poll was in Saxton’s back yard and after he had been running radio ads.

    There was a funny little news poll recently also. What they did was take pictures of all the major candidates of all the major parties to downtown Portland. The question was asked “who LOOKS like they would be a good Governor.” The winner? Surprisingly, even to me, was Atkinson.

    So I am sure you are a great guy White Devil, but your political sense does not have any empirical evidence to support it.

  • MasRedline

    There was the debate, then the reaction after the debate. Anyone but me happen to notice that Kevin was hanging with like one guy, while Saxton and Atkinson were surrounded?

    This alone tells me that it’s down to two.

    Who would you rather have? A lawyer-politician, or an employer-politician?

    Feedback I got from people in outlying areas was uniform: it all went along the lines of “this atkinson guy’s looking good”.

    I didn’t hear that about Saxton – and I spent a lot of hours snooping around at the center and at nearby gathering spots.

    My approach may not be ultrascientific, but I do think it gives me a good idea where people are coming from.

    Atkinson made a huge impression. Saxton’s going to have to shake more money out of the tree. Mannix did not make the cut.

    • Shannon Eikum

      In my opinion Mannix clearly won the debate. Akinson came in at close second, but Saxton was way off base. I haven’t been a strong Mannix supporter from the begining but over time he has won my vote. Let me tell you why: First, I was extremely impressed by Akinson’s down to earth presence on stage. I found his eagerness for politics and family endearing. In fact, I was so impressed at one debate I removed my Mannix sticker. Then the there was a turing point. I took it upon myself to introduce myself to Akinson and I was so disappointed by his eagerness to brush me off. It appeared he had more important people to talk to the entire time. I found his lack of attention span an clear indication of his future politics.

      Mannix on the otherhand has won me over by his eagerness to capture the youth vote. I appreciate the time he has taken to reach out to all the youth at PSU and throughout Oregon.

      As for Saxton, simply said….”dont say anything unless you have something nice to say.”

  • Anonymous

    The last few posts captured the evening.

    Saxton was the more experienced and issue oriented candidate.

    Atkinson had his moments of charm.

    Kevin was pleading for another shot – and didn’t make the case.

    It’s a two-man race and only one of the two has the money and the team to win – Saxton.

    • Money isn’t everything. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think the facts show that nationally, Democrats get tons of special interest money (as opposed to individual donations) but that doesn’t mean that they are the ones to vote for.

      As for the team: Saxton did have a bunch of people posting a bunch of uniform, negative comments on all of the independent Atkinson bloggers’ websites. But I don’t think that cuts the mustard.

  • PanchoPdx

    Weak debate. Who comes up with these questions?

    Two minute answers exploring feelings, motivations and appreciation of your opponents’ strengths?

    Mannix: “third time is the charm” was his best line (albeit self-depricating). I’m impressed by his resilience. Fewer and fewer people beieve in him, yet his belief in himself never seems to waiver. Still a great salesman, too bad his product is kinda shoddy. I think the best thing that could happen to Mannix is losing, leaving candidate politics altogether, and taking up issue politics again.

    Saxton: More impressive than he was in 2002. A little audacious with his challenge to the audience to get off the fence and make a decision in the race. He’s talking the talk right now. Saying things that will be tough to retract in the general – a good sign. I want to believe.

    Atkinson: Wry wit, great voice, better timing than the others. Beneath the style, humor and occasional misdirection, I sense a guy who seems desperate to establish his credibility. Good on the issues. Less direct than Saxton: he paints a picture of problems rather than charging toward his proposed solutions. If he doesn’t make it this time, I hope he doesn’t rule out the ’08 SoS race. He’s a shoo-in.

  • cameron

    Guys…get ahold of yourselves. There is no question that Ron Saxton was the worst. No charisma, no connection, no enthusiasm. He seemed irritated all night. I believe that our most electable candidates are Mannix (probably best) and Atkinson. Get on the Mannix train and ride it to Salem. End of story don’t make the mistake of being tricked by oration. Mannix for governor without a doubt.

  • Steve Schopp

    I was gonna say,
    “I bet the audience didn’t win”
    Then I read Pancho and he validated my negativity and nonattendee meaningless opinion.

    If the questions and format were anything like the Executive Club I’m glad I didn’t attend.

    I can’t wait for the primary to be behind us.

  • JDM

    I concur sir! I do believe this race is between Mannix and Atkinson, Saxton is the equivalent of a sinking ship. Grab that life jacket and get ready to swim Saxton backers, bet your wishing you had taken those swimming lessons when you were younger. As I said before I am looking at Atkinson with a good degree of confidence. Yet it is truly a toss up, Mannix is such a nice guy in person. He is so in touch with things and seems connected to the young crowd. As a student at PSU I feel sometimes that politicians just dont understand the youth of the nation today. Yet after meeting Mannix, I know now that HE UNDERSTANDS US. He is so down to earth, he is so devoted and in the end he is so COOL! I had the opportunity to meet Atkinson yet he seemed disconnected and impersonal, I did not like the experiance to much. So it was a tough decision on what to do in the Straw Poll yet in the end I voted Mannix. He won in out in my battle of wills, my battle of ideals. Yes previously I backed Atkinson, yet that is what politics is, a process, a struggle to convince and a war of ideals. So consider me back in the Mannix camp, ready to vote and enjoying myself like never before.

  • Leyla

    Disclaimer: While I voted for Atkinson in the straw poll, I was undecided at the debate – leaning toward Saxton or Atkinson.

    Five bucks says the Mannix campaign sent their volunteers to the OregonCatalyst booth at Dorchester to blog that he won the debate.

    Said volunteers, by the way, are wrong.

    By my count, and the current and former elected officials and operatives sitting around me (even those who have endorsed Saxton) agree with me, Atkinson won four out of five questions. Saxton won one. In case you were counting, that means Mannix won none.

    I was still undecided while sitting at my table this morning, looking at my ballot. The mics were open and Saxton’s supporters were doing a good job of talking up their candidate. Atkinson was at my table, and I was watching him for his reaction. For most of the open mic time, he was pretty laid back, talking with the people at the table and laughing at the jokes of those speaking. Then, during a barrage of Saxton-supporting comments, he looked down, and I could tell he was worried. The next minute, he looked around the table and held up his hands.

    They were shaking.

    It was the most personal display of emotion and caring that I had witnessed from any of the candidates.

    Atkinson cares. He connects with audiences – and you can tell he means what he says. He’s not making any bold promises about what he’s going to do as governor, because he knows it’s not easy to capitalize on those promises given the current political situation in Salem.

    I voted for Atkinson because he doesn’t want to be a politican – but he believes he can make a difference, and I think he can.

  • jim evans

    I got a dog in the fight. I support Saxton. I spoke in his favor during the open mike. That said, and taking in the comments here on the blog.(which I might add were generally of high tone and positive analysis.) Mannix seemed slightly deflated during the debate, and opened with a tired “I came so close last time I deserve another shot”. Also Mannix seemed to be talking away from the mike so his voice was a little weak to the audience.( style points admittedly)

    Atkinson warmed up during the debate and his “people stories” go well with the audience, but his “government should respect the people” is not followed up with specific policy proposals so ends up slightly like cotton candy. He has appeal, but shows inexperience and is too green in terms of executive experience.(he should run for and win secretary of state and gain exec. exp. there)

    Saxton has a combination of solid speaking style( not scintillating), executive experience(building and running a large law office), and a higher degree of specifics in regards to policy proposals and stated commitment to top to bottom reform as evinced by leading on PERS, privitazation, and incorperating market mechamisms to make government more responsive and accountable to the voters( thats respect).

  • People keep bringing up money.

    Folks, having the big money is more of a liability than an asset. If money won elections, our last two Presidents would have been named Forbes and Perot.

    Ron may have more campaign cash, but look how it comes in: in thousand dollar bills from a handful of business interests who want “access” to politics. Jason gets his cash in tens and twenties, from a large network of people who want CHANGE in government. In terms of numbers of supporters, and in terms of the fervency of their support, Jason is walking all over Ron.

    When it starts to come down to the wire, and the campaigns are looking for volunteers to walk the neighborhoods, pass out fliers, man campaign booths, and talk to voters, what is going to happen?

    Ron is going to have a small number of mostly paid workers. Jason is going to have large numbers of volunteers.

    Numerically, Jason wins. But even more importantly, when it comes to delivery of the message, Jason wins. When you are an undecided voter and you talk to a paid staffer, you can tell this person doesn’t really care about the election so much as the paycheck. But when you talk to the volunteer, it becomes clear that this person BELIEVES in his candidate.

    That makes a huge difference in the eyes of the undecided voter. And face it, elections are ALWAYS won by pulling in the undecideds at the last minute.

  • Jerry

    I find the few comments on Jason’s “disconnect”, “aloofness”, “on to more important people” when you get to talk to him directly somewhat true. I hope Jason can learn from these comments, because I regard these kind of comments important to a politician, especially one that is somewhat young, and not terribly experienced. If that is his true nature, then it will always be, and that may come into play as years go by because it is important to those he will collaborate with, and the public can sense it.

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