A way forward for Oregon Republicans

Mike Nearman_thb

by Mike Nearman

It’s no secret that Oregon Republicans have had a tough time at the polls lately.

Republicans haven’t won a statewide election for an embarrassingly long time. Oregon hasn’t had a Republican Governor in decades. And, like a girl who doesn’t get asked to the prom, the Beaver State GOP faithful had to watch this year’s Republican wave sweep across the country while sweet Oregon sat next to the phone waiting for the call that never came. We have to do something different.

One bright spot this election cycle were the ballot measures. Nearly all of them came from the left, and for the most part, the right prevailed. The one that came from conservatives was Measure 88 – repealing driver cards for illegal aliens – and it was a victory for the right by a two-to-one margin. This isn’t the first election in which Oregonians defeated Republican candidates for office at the polls, but affirmed conservative principles with ballot measures.

Clearly, this is our home turf.

It’s not acceptable for Republican political leaders to say that since Oregon is such a blue state, we just have to accept results like these. Heck, blue states like Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Maryland all have something that we don’t have: a Republican Governor. The way forward may lie in the initiative process.

  • As the minority party in the state, ballot measures may be one of the only ways that we can influence the process. It’s been years since we’ve had legislative majorities.
  • Ballot measures take very little money to get off the ground. Once they do get off the ground, money may flow in from other sources.
  • A successful signature gathering effort may force the other side to spend money against the initiative, instead of against our candidates.
  • An initiative may create a reason for contact with voters, especially in off year elections. Rather than stand in a county fair booth trying to promote the Republican Party, volunteers can try to sell an idea that is captured in an initiative.
  • It’s easier for people to understand an idea than a party. Once people understand an idea, it’s easier for them to understand the underlying principle and how that relates to the Republican Party.

This isn’t a silver bullet or a panacea. I’m not naïve enough to think that we’re going turn Oregon red through the initiative process alone. Both the Oregon Republican Party and Republican elected officials have some soul searching to do and some game plans to adjust. I hope that they choose to use the initiative process as a way to speak to voters.

Mike Nearman was just elected State Representative in House District 23, which includes much of the rural Western Willamette Valley.  He also owns several clipboards.  He can be reached at [email protected].

  • Jack Lord God

    Good idea! While I have long advocated that Republicans should place their efforts elsewhere than hail mary runs for the governors office that doesn’t mean total withdrawal. The initiative process would be an excellent way to move things forward. Why should Republicans accept the majority of initiatives coming from the left? They shouldn’t I would caution though that there have been some initiatives that have really turned people off from the GOP in general in this state. Measure 9, the anti gay rights thing that wouldn’t die, would be an example of that. Republicans need to divest themselves of initiatives like this and concentrate more on things that can be seen as pro job growth and less socially divisive.

    How about an initiative to abolish the Cover Oregon board? Does the average citizen know that the loons who botched the web site are still sitting in their comfy chairs getting fat paychecks? I doubt it.

    How about an initiative to somehow reign in fiascoes like spending endless amounts of money researching dopey projects like the CRC?

    Republicans have long promised to try and repeal measure 67, the tax increase levied on every mom and pop business in the middle of the worst recession in most peoples memory. The average voter has no concept of how small business pays taxes and had no clue they were raising taxes on the self employed. The ads promoting measure 67 by the teachers unions went totally unanswered by Republicans. Was that a good idea? I don’t think so.

    This is an excellent idea. Putting efforts into the political process in areas where Republican ideas, if not candidates, have a proven record of winning at least some of the time, rather than trying to come up with ever more Democrat lite candidates for the governors office.

  • guest

    Two things that Oregonians agree with most Republicans on are strong enforcement of immigration laws, and strong protection of gun rights. We saw the first with No on 88 – Oregonians do NOT want illegal aliens to get driver licenses. We will be tested on the second this upcoming session, as Ginny Burdick will finally have a clear path to passing every draconian gun ban she can dream up. So what do we do? Put both issues on the ballot.

    1) Put on the ballot a simple repeal of ORS 181.850. Don’t know what that is? It is Oregon’s “sanctuary state” law. Under ORS 181.850, no law enforcement in Oregon is allowed to enforce immigration laws. We don’t need to overreach with an Oregon version of Arizona SB 1070 that will flood our state with even more ACLU lawyers. Just repeal ORS 181.850, and then at least most law enforcement outside of Portland and Eugene will have its shackles removed. This would be an easy sell to everyone who voted no on 88.

    2) Put on the ballot a constitutional amendment to strengthen Oregon’s right to keep and bear arms. Our constitution is already good, but it could be better – and it would prevent anything Burdick passes from being enforced. Article I, section 27 says, “The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence [sic] of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power[.]” Amend this to say, “The people shall have the fundamental right to keep, bear, carry, own, buy, and sell weapons for the defense of themselves, the State, and the community; the right shall not be infringed by any act of the Oregon Legislative Assembly or local government regulation.” Period. And, no, this would not mean that civilians could own grenade launchers — remember, there are federal laws about such things, and the federal government can enforce them.

    Here is the beauty of running these two concurrently: Oregon would basically be allowing the feds to be the limiting factor on guns, as it currently allows the feds to be the limiting factor on immigration. If the left argues we can’t repeal ORS 181.850 because only the federal government should be enforcing immigration laws, then they attack the notion that only the federal government, not Oregon, should be enforcing gun laws. And don’t think it can go in reverse and muddy the waters – people in Oregon LIKE guns; people in Oregon OPPOSE illegal immigration. If the left tries to flip that argument around on us, just reply WHY DO YOU HATE LAWFUL GUN OWNERS? WHY DO YOU SUPPORT ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION? Such attacks work – ask any Republican who runs on social issues.

    Putting these two measures on the 2016 November ballot will be a surefire (pun intended) winner.

    • Jack Lord God

      Actually under current law a civilian can own a grenade launcher. A civilian can also own grenades. A civilian cannot own both at the same time however, and the grenades get a $200 tax each.

      I do agree with the rest of your approach.

  • Bob Clark

    We have to plea for help from the national Republican caucus and other organizations for a lifeline on campaign money. Kitzhaber effectively bought off the state’s more conservative deep pocketed donors, and so, Richardson had relatively little TV ad money to establish name recognition and project his very positive spirit.

    Hopefully, a rebounding national republican party might somehow see its way to taking a flier on Oregon.

    Actually, we may not want to have Kitzhaber hauled out of the Governor spot for fraud. Next in line is not pretty. I can’t see a GOP moderate, even less so a conservative, displacing Wheeler as the state’s next governor after the next four year term of Kitzhaber. So, need to go after the legislature and build someone state wide for the year 2026 election.

    • guest

      ‘Sides Ted Wheeler DEMonstrating his ilk in Mahonia Hall, imagine Kate Brown or Tina Kotek schlepping in the schmooze of Barbara Roberts!
      Affair warning; Oregonians take note of the Cylvia haze red styles (skies) a forming and then sum.

  • GObill sizemore

    I know of several really good initiatives just waiting for funding – the kind of measures that would drive the left crazy, attract a ton of opposition spending, and if passed make the state a better place.

  • Spiccoli

    Oregon “democrats” want their guns, their property rights, their good schools, (but don’t tax them for it), and they want to let their freak flag fly. Then they go to church on Sunday. They go to work for………… government. They work for city, or county, or state, or federal, or some kind of contract work for one of the above. Or they have a service business that serves one of the above. And they have PERS. Precious, precious PERS. Why does Oregon vote Democrat? It makes the most economic sense. It’s fiscally prudent. So, Tap that golden keg o’ liberal spending. Party on dudes. And vote DEMOCRAT!!!!

  • Spiccoli

    Spicolli here again. After Obama grants amnesty to 500 million illegal aliens, none of this will matter any more.
    Aye Carumba!

  • farmrdave

    It isn’t that Republicans are doing something wrong, or not addressing the issues in a favorable way, or just being personally repulsive , or anything like that. It is simple. There is a huge voting block that votes in the same failed politicians election after election. Also with the current electorial system when I vote for a red candidate and Portland / Salem votes blue. In the end my district’s electoral vote is counted as “For” the blue candidate. The fact is that the Portland / Salem voting block has taken away my choice of who represents me in government. It seems there is little we rural and small town Oregonians can do about it.

    I have family members who are part of “that” voting block, of that insidious blue monster that steals elections away from good candidates. Maybe if I tell them exactly what I think about it and about how their stinking cities are effecting my life and our posterity they might listen and learn.

    How can a governor who has failed every test of ethics and abilities still receive such support? How many possibilities are there? Two possibilities come to mind. One is the portland / Salem voting block financially benefits from his remaining in office. Another is that the voting is rigged. There are many more possibilities.

    It is not up to politicians to get elected as much as it is up to us to get them elected. The responsibility falls on our shoulders. Do not belly ache about losing another red vs blue election. Ask yourself what you can do differently next election cycle and then do it. It is going to take serious effort from everyone to accomplish this political task.

    • Eric Blair

      ” There are many more possibilities.”

      The most likely one being your candidate simply didn’t get as many votes. There doesn’t have to be some nefarious plot to deny Republicans state-wide office in Oregon. It may be that they candidates they float simply don’t resonate with a majority of the potential swing votes. Richardson only got as close as he did because of Cover Oregon, CRC, and the issues surrounding Cyliva Hayes. The irony is that Chris Dudley probably could have pulled out a win if he had run this year. Richardson was simply too socially conservative to appeal to the swing votes.

      • farmrdave

        Eric, please listen to yourself. This is exactly what I am talking about. We have a governor who has squandered away more than 300 million of our tax dollars and then says, oops, it’s not my fault. Who’s girlfriend is capitalizing on her relationship with the Governor of Oregon in her business, so the governor goes silent and still receives a winning number of votes. How can this person continue to win elections when nearly every county in the state has said “no more”. Excepting of course the Portland / Salem voting block. These are the same misinformed persons that stopped dog hunting of lethal predators in the rest of the state all while they have no practical interest or danger from those same predators eating their livestock, pets, or children. This is exactly what I am talking about. There’s lots more possibilities, maybe it is something in the drinking water that effects those voters. Maybe they are enlightened and the rest of us are just stupid and unable to see the advantage of reelecting this boob to a job he has failed at over and over again.
        The republicans who ran for office may not be the best qualified at selling broken down used cars, may not have the capacity of convincing voters that greater taxation, regulation, and government expansion is a good thing. I am sure they are not able to convince you that paying more than $300,000,000.00 to a failed pet project is OK and only a minor slip up. Therefor, for the sake of your vanity it is probably a necessity to continue down this path of not electing a person who is answerable to the voters. This man who say’s “I will not enforce the will of the voters in executing death row inmates. I will not deport illegal criminals even if they are violent thieves and injure Oregon citizens, Oregon will house them in our jail system. We will provide medical and housing assistance to them, we will provide food stamps and special language programs in our schools. Provide aid for them in higher education all while closing the door of aid to third and forth generation Oregon children. Thank you sir for helping to make my point.

        You say socially conservative like it is a dirty word. What that translates to in the office of governor is for our govornor to do his job, mind his business, pay the bills, NOT to transform our state into something he read about in a magazine from the east coast. Eric, please understand that our state is divided between those who love our state as it is. And those who wish to make it into a copy of other places.

        • sol668

          Look, its that I hate republicans, I didn’t want to vote for kitzhaber, but I view you and your ilk as nothing short of pure evil….you serve the rich, and your fantasy religious beliefs…I wish you could put forward a republican I could vote for, but the national success of your bigot fundamentalist elitist party only strengthens my resolve to never vote republican, even when I agree with you on issues like logging, and gun control.

          There’s no conspiracy…I just don’t like you..personally

          • guest

            Say hey, sol668, you sound like you’re in a state of crISIS.

          • guest

            IMO sol 668 minus two,, UR so sicko’d, nut unlike the crISIS virus devilishing US Caruso..

        • Eric Blair

          I mention socially conservative because that is one of the elements that hold back many people in Oregon from voting for Republican candidates.

          It could simply be that many Oregonians have different priorities than yours. It doesn’t have to be anything crippling such as people being misinformed, or stupid. Perhaps many voters were willing to overlook the CRC and Cover Oregon issues.

          The governor’s race is not decided by counties, but by popular vote. I’m not sure what your hang-up is with Portland/Salem. Kitzhaber did win Multnomah County (by a handy margin) but lost Marion county (if we’re going to look at results by county). In addition, Ktizhaber won Lane, Hood River, Washington, Benton, Lincoln and Tillamook counties.

          If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t vote for Kitzhaber because of his unwillingness to take responsibility for Cover Oregon.

          • farmrdave

            Eric, I did not say anyone was stupid. I said misinformed. I did not vote for Kitzhaber because the Governor of Oregon is there to supervise the executive functions of the state. Not to decide what direction our state should be heading. That is for us to decide, not elected, appointed, or hired public servants.
            I am vary tied of politics ignoring science and reality, we have 5 windfarms in Oregon (that I am aware of). And more proposed. One fact about wind is that it is not constant and sometimes stops. Another fact is that wind generated electricity is vary expensive to install and maintain, after federal rebates and such are exhausted the rate payers foot the bill of high cost for unreliable electricity. All while there are may places in Oregon where hydroelectric power can be generated. Impounding water is similar to putting money into a savings account. Some of the benefits are improved or new aquatic habitat for natural and game wildlife, reduced carbon emissions, low electric rates for reliable power generation. Governor Kitzhaber has a 10 year green energy plan that may be politically correct but it is scientifically similar to “Superman comic books”. There is a long list of actions taken by this man that need to be exposed. But squandering over $300,000,000.00 is certainly a reason he should not be re-elected.

          • Eric Blair

            ” Maybe they are enlightened and the rest of us are just stupid…”

            I wasn’t speaking just about liberals and progressives. I’m attacking your entire idea that people who disagree with you must be misinformed, and that people who disagree with me must be stupid. We like to characterize those who are on the opposite sides of issues (and God knows I’ve done it) as having some flaw in their thinking or character. Not everyone who believes differently is misinformed or stupid.. they simply have different priorities. Many people who voted for Kitzhaber, for instance, may simply have seen the alternative as being less palatable. You give a reason for not voting for Kitzhaber, but that is your reason… not how everyone else feels about it. The fact is, your candidate did not attract voters despite Kitzhaber have some severe deficits… there doesn’t have to be anything more complex than that. They didn’t like what Richardson was saying. If you don’t understand that, you’ll simply believe the worst of people who voted differently than you, or assume that some crime was committed to steal the election.

            As for hydroelectric power.. you know as well as I do that its not simply the case of putting up a dam.. there are detriments to dams… I think you’re glossing over those issues.

          • farmrdave

            First off you do not know who my candidate is or was, I have not told you that.

            You said, ” I’m attacking your entire idea that people who disagree with you must
            be misinformed, and that people who disagree with me must be stupid.”

            Whether or not you agree with what I am saying does not make it “my idea”. I am siting observation. Observing candidates elected and reelected that are pursuing agenda other than what is required of the jobs they are elected to. Did you not read my words? Am I that difficult to understand? What we need, from either party or minor group are candidates that support the functioning of our state. There are actions needed by our elected legislators and officials that can improve our situation overall.

            Instead of spending highway dollars on bicycle paths use the money for what it was intended for.

            Instead of pouring $300,000,000.00 tax dollars into the pockets of people who apparently could not do the job, without proper supervision, use the money for what it was intended for.

            Instead of promoting “green” energy by mandate, promote education about the need for green energy production. Then stand back and allow it to be developed. (The vary actions of government have prevented the development of clean, safe, nuclear energy and are still hindering it to such a high degree it will be decades more before it can be available for use.

            These are not my ideas, they are facts that many voters seem unaware of. When the votes are counted it appears the votes were made by persons that do not know what influence those candidates have on our lives and prosperity.

            I am commenting with a purpose. It is to effect the outcome of future elections. If we continue to do the same thing we will have the same results. Overall it is only through the republican party’s influence can we break the grip of the influence peddlers that are in control of our futures and out pocketbooks.

          • Myke

            What your saying, to use simple language, is, stupid is, what stupid does. And, in the case of Oregon’s electorate the outcome speaks for itself.

  • Dennis Tuuri

    Couldn’t disagree more! As a conservative Republican who has written voters guides for ballot measures in Oregon for decades, my view is that this year’s BM results were not the norm. The conservatives usually lose the ballot measure fight as well. At the statewid level we ran poor candidates and they handled their races very poorly. They may
    be great people, but, for instance, wr could have won the Governor’s race with a more viable articulate candidate. There are other fundamental problems with the Republican Party in Oregon, all of which would be hurt, not helped, by expensive (time and money), distracting ballot measures. For strategic targets, they are great (the ODL issue, for example).But generally they are a waste of very limited resources, in my view.

  • Dave Lister

    Once again, as in 2010, we saw a “red tide” break from east to west until it hit the shoals of Oregon, Washington and California. In the aftermath, Oregon’s so-called “progressives” proclaim we got it right and the rest of the nation got it wrong.

    Here’s what I say. Let the Democratic super-majority in Salem do its worst. The D’s will own it. All of it. The people of Oregon will see their most egregious schemes in the light of day. Then, like illegal alien drivers licenses, the citizens will rise up and refer the legislation to the voters. And then, be it a one dollar per gallon “carbon fuel” surcharge, or Draconian anti-gun measures, Oregonians will defeat them.

    And then maybe, just maybe, the single party lock on Oregon will be exposed and defeated.

    • Eric Blair

      Red tide — how appropriate given the toxic effects on humans 😉

      • .

        Bleep it Bozo-blare!

    • farmrdave

      Dave I admire your positive attitude, considering passed actions by those same progressives I do not share it. It seems that they live in a fantasy world that stops at the corporate boundaries of their respective cities. It is up to us to puncture their bubble of complacency and interject a great amount of common sense to their information base. Otherwise when a failed candidate says “look at what a good job I have done” they will continue to accept the wild claim without question. We have to take the truth and shove it into the faces and awareness of those progressive voters.

      • Eric Blair

        LOL.. back at ya. If only conservatives would listen, and start basing policy on facts rather than ideology, they would start winning elections.

        It’s always easy to assume there is something fundamentally wrong with the other side more than simple disagreement.

        • .

          Hey Blair, you with the starry demise. Recuse yourself to the David Appell diary farm and mix your chorus with the stock derriere. .

        • farmrdave

          Eric, the conservatives (self proclaimed) I know, their ideology is based on facts they have ascertained by life’s experience. They are solid, reliable, honest. Come from all levels of the social scale with one shared characteristic, they all apply their efforts into making life better for themselves and those around them. Not from manipulation of ordinances, regulations, and laws intended to control the actions of others. Instead by manual labor and mental effort in the construction of everything from ditches to huge corporations and all in between.

          When I see elections won by voters who in the next breath comnplain about the inadequacies of some form of social regulation I question their intelligence. The same is likely true of those same voters when contemplating me and my vote. Until more persons are better educated about the candidates and their actions we will not have advancement of beneficial government. We will continue to lose freedoms and see expanded government programs and regulation. My opinion is, if voters are not knowledgeable about a issue or candidate don’t vote on it or them. It seems our elections carry the results of voters who have never been to our state. The vote count is directly proportional to the amount of money spent by a candidate or on a candidate by special interests. If we allow money to purchase executive government positions aren’t we saying it is OK do do it?
          If you one having car trouble or computer is acting up do they go to a qualified repair center? Why? Is it because repair personnel have studied the subject matter and can intelligently choose between all of the possible causes of the problem? Why is a election different from that? I say before we vote, study in detail the subject of the election. If you are vary knowledgeable on one issue but not the next, vote what you know about and leave the other to persons who know about that subject. Just because there are many items and candidates listed on a ballot does not mean one vote on everything. Otherwise we will continue to take three steps forward and slip back two.

          • Eric Blair

            “Not from manipulation of ordinances, regulations, and laws intended to control the actions of others.”

            That is simply not true. Unless you’re defining conservatism that it is so narrow that you simply mean, “myself and a few friends”.

            Yes, frequently elections go the way of money, but not always. I also suspect that there is a saturation point where even if one side spends more than the other, the amounts are so large on both sides that a greater amount isn’t significantly helpful.

            Neither side can make claim to being more honest, solid or reliable. You’re conflating political views with personal attributes, and that always fails in the end when you draw the line along political affiliations. I also know liberals and progressives who possess those exact same qualities. We are talking about political battles, not titanic battles of good vs. evil.

          • farmrdave

            Maybe that is a problem with applying labels to persons. The only commonality I see amongst the persons I am talking about is that the are all active US citizens. Please explain to me what your definition of a conservative is. When I use that word I mean people who see the glass as half full, that see a job or career as opportunity to improve life, that think they are the best judge of how to spend their labor.
            If everyone stopped labeling others with easily misinterpreted labels communication as adults might occur.

        • guest

          Pass on de harp-harp deity har har, blare vies 4!

    • HBguy

      In California while the Dem’s held onto the statewide seats, the Republicans gained seats in both houses. Though they are still in a minority.
      In Washington the Republicans took control of the senate and won seats and almost got control of the house.
      In Oregon…..the GOP lost Senate and House seats.
      It wasn’t so much a West coast shoal as it was an Oregon Island.

      • Eric Blair

        That is only going to make them cry more.

        • guest

          Think you should volunteer to be a part of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s staff insurrection.

  • Richard b

    Ballot measure have one huge flaw: the party in power can change the the initiative process making harder to pale an initiative on the ballot, look at Secretary of State office.

    This is a bandaid on the real problem: The GOP is losign elections. It no going to happen running conservative darlings but unqualified like Jason Yates. The Oregon GOP needs to recruit great, qualified, candidates and volunteers, but it not going to get any if they get shot down driven out by the conservatives and tea party. Qualified people just stay in the private sector and we end up with Yeates and the constitution party. We need to shift away from populist conservatism to the L word; no not liberal but a Rand Paul style Libertarianism and triangulate. Take Gay Marriage, one can knowledge one right to make a civil contract regardless of sexual orientation but does not grant licence to infringe the property rights of Christian bakers or people have the right to pull their childen out of pupic schools and register as objectors,as such be exempt for any truancy laws and involvement for the education department. The GOP need to stop talking about families and singles as a threat to society. Instead every individual is treated and tax the same regardless of marital and family status. We need to go where the people are instead just single family homes and gun clubs, as I witnessed in Washington county Republican campaign as a volunteer.

    • Eric Blair

      Well, you already have a Libertarian party that pretty much advocates policies along the lines you’re talking about. Changing the GOP to basically become the Libertarian Party will fragment it, and destroy the coalition of fiscal and social conservatives.

      • Richard b

        The way I see the social conservatives have already obliterated any hope of a collation after all, I left the Republican party because of the heretical (dominist theology) statist conservatives .We need defeated them politically and placed on the scrapheap of history.

        • guest

          William F. Buckley not your cup of tea.
          What about Andrew Breitbart?
          Oh, they’re deceased.
          What about Wisconsin then?

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