Public Financing and the Power of Incumbency

Eastside Guy, featured in Brainstorm Magazine

During my recent run for the Portland City Council I learned an important lesson on the power of incumbency and public financing. Portland’s “Voter Owned Elections” system, in which participating candidates receive taxpayer money to run their campaigns, it is virtually impossible to beat an incumbent because they cannot be outspent. In both commissioner races the incumbent was considered vulnerable and in both races they retained their seats without a run-off.

Watching the T.V. news this morning, I was alerted to another incumbent-supporting scheme which is being bankrolled by the taxpayers. Not a city race, this time, but rather the Oregon governor’s race.

Incumbent governor Ted Kulongoski, under the guise of a “public service announcement”, is running an advertisement which can only be considered a campaign ad, and he’s doing it on our dime!

The ad, which is a DHS public service announcement, features a full sixty seconds of an on camera Kulongoski touting the excellent job DHS has done for the elderly. The scene is a nursing home and in the background are a collection of the home’s residents.

The governor, who has taken pains to avoid cameras for his entire four year term, is now blatently pandering to Oregon’s seniors and doing it with DHS funds!

I can only imagine what we will see next. An ODOT “public service announcement” featuring the governor touting his road building achievements perhaps?

I thought using public office for electioneering was against the law.