Chuck Riley’s little Libertarian elves

NW Spotlight_thb

by NW Spotlight

There is a Grimm’s Fairy Tale about a shoemaker who goes to bed and wakes up to find elves have finished his work for him. In Oregon politics, Democrat Chuck Riley is the shoemaker and Hillsboro-area Libertarians are his elves.

A Libertarian candidate has helped Riley get elected, again. That’s right – this isn’t the first time a Libertarian candidate has helped get Democrat Chuck Riley elected in a Hillsboro legislative race. In fact, that’s how Riley got his start.

Republican Sen. Bruce Starr posted on his Facebook page on Monday that he had congratulated Chuck Riley last Friday evening on winning the race for Senate District 15. The 2014 SD15 race was extremely close. Some votes are still being counted, but Chuck Riley is ahead by 283 votes (18,152 to 17,869). Riley has 45.69% of the vote, Sen. Starr has 44.98% and Libertarian candidate Caitlin Mitchel-Markley has 9.04% (3,592 votes).

A Bend Bulletin article last week reported “Mitchel-Markley denies she won over Republican voters and says instead she won over potential Democratic voters.” That flies in the face of conventional wisdom, as the Bend Bulletin noted “It’s conventional political wisdom that Libertarians siphon more votes from Republicans, a theory that’s widely accepted but difficult to prove.”

Chuck Riley’s election over Sen. Starr now gives Democrats a super-majority in the Oregon Senate – which is why the Bend Bulletin gave the headline “Did Libertarian give Senate Democrats supermajority?” to their article last week.

As mentioned above, this isn’t the first time Chuck Riley has been helped into a Hillsboro seat in the Oregon legislature by a Libertarian candidate.

In 2004, Libertarian candidate Tom Cox ran in Oregon HD 29 against incumbent Republican State Rep. Mary Gallegos and took almost 10% of the vote – resulting in 6 years of Democrat Chuck Riley in the Oregon House.

Also in 2004, fellow Libertarian Tristan Reisfar, who admitted Democrats had encouraged him to run in HD54 (Bend), said that the Cox candidacy against Gallegos did throw the race to the Democrat [Chuck Riley].

Writing on the 2-year anniversary of Riley’s 2004 victory, the Portland Tribune said “Riley, a freshman Democrat representing District 29, finished first last [election] in a three-way race that saw an anti-tax Libertarian candidate, Tom Cox, siphon enough votes away from the incumbent Republican, Mary Gallegos, to let Riley slip into Salem with 48 percent of the vote.”

Democrat Chuck Riley has benefited a great deal from having Libertarian candidates in his races.

UPDATE: Analysis from the Independent Party of Oregon (IPO)-friendly blog Oregon Outpost that finds Libertarian candidate will draw 3X as many votes from the Republican as from the Democrat.