Why Aren’t Republicans Talking About Portland?


By Alex Titus

Downtown Portland is in chaos.

Business owners are being forced to close locations because of unchecked urban degradation. Stores face problems with transient engaging in “daily defecation” inside their stores and outside; residents face serious harassment and death threats from repeat criminal offenders.

A Portland homeless woman recently broke a “record” by stealing nine cars in seven months without serving a single day in prison. Worse, Portland now ranks third in the country for car thefts according to a shocking report by Willamette Week.

This unchecked crime wave and lack of enforcement of basic sanitation standards is shameful.

This begs the question of why statewide Republican candidates and the Oregon GOP aren’t talking about Portland? Public safety and law and order has long been bread and butter winner for the GOP – heavily boosting Ronald Reagan in the 1960s and Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

Oregon Democrats have offered little in terms of practical solutions, particularly Democratic Governor Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. Oregon Republicans should capitalize on this opportunity to own the narrative and actively address crime, public safety, and basic sanitation issues ravaging our state’s largest downtown.

Republicans, let’s talk about Portland.

The situation in downtown Portland represents a broader problem facing progressive cities across the country, which have increasingly tolerated vagrancy, repeat criminal offenders, and areas that cultivate crime, pressuring law-enforcement to take a “hands-off” approach to policing.

While this approach may appear kindhearted, it’s had severe consequences for local residents and businesses.

Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle recently penned a scathing op-ed in the Oregonian explaining how moving his company’s flag ship store downtown may have been a mistake.

He noted “daily defecation” by transients in the store’s lobby, death threats issued to employees and broken into cars; one Columbia employee had to run into moving traffic after a stranger followed her and threatened to kill her. Mr. Boyle is absolutely right to call this situation “outrageous” and “unacceptable.”

Unfortunately, the problem goes much further than just Columbia Sportswear. On Black Friday, Anne Bocci, who owns an upscale art and jewelry boutique that prides itself on not being “a big corporate business,” encountered the same type of terrifying situation when her store was robbed.

“He stole from me and he threatened my life, twice,” said Bocci of her assailant—a many-time repeat offender in downtown Portland. She added that, “the police came and then he came back four minutes later after they left.”

Judith Arnell, another jeweler, will be closing her doors after doing business in Portland for over 20 years. “The biggest problem is that the customers feel unsafe, so I can’t afford to save this,” Arnell noted. She also recalled that a surveillance camera caught a man defecating outside of her front door, and that this wasn’t the first time that it had happened.

Business owners recently took their outrage directly to Mayor Wheeler’s administration. Kevin Pilla, owner of the home-goods store Budd and Finn, gave a scathing critique of city government, his store having been broken into just a few nights before. Crime “is literally killing my business,” Pilla announced. “There are no consequences.” Business owners are right to be outraged.

Governor Brown has yet to address the problem or offer any meaningful solutions and Wheeler would rather play politics than address the problem head-on.

Wheeler took to a recent speech to blast Secretary Ben Carson and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for failing to “provide solutions” to the problems facing downtown Portland.

Oregonians know this is partisan politics at its worst.

The city has plenty of measures to address crime in a meaningful, starting with enforcing the laws already on the books. Furthermore, Republicans should advocate for a greater police presence in crime ridden areas while advocating to remove barriers that hinder officers from doing their job.

Basic public safety is not a partisan issue regardless if Democrats would like to make it one.

This is a clear-cut winner that Oregon GOP candidates can use to appeal to a broad base of voters and that has a proven track record of helping Republicans win elections. Most Democrats, Independents, and Republicans agree that families should be able to send their kids to downtown Portland without fear of harassment, violence, or uncleanliness.

Oregon Republicans have a unique opportunity to address the needs of a wide swath of voters and provide real solutions to the chaos facing downtown Portland. This is a big opportunity for the GOP and conservatives to make inroads in downtown Portland.

Republicans, let’s start the conversation.

Alex Titus is an Public Interest Fellow and conservative political activist based out of Washington, DC, and Portland. You can follow him on Twitter @atitus7.

  • Press Release

    There are numerous examples around America where long-term Democrat/Progressive/Union control of government leads to absolute disaster. Portland is perhaps a few decades behind Detroit, but is clearly on the same trajectory. But it appears the people of Portland – and a majority of people in suburban areas – are simply too stupid to understand why this philosophy has been a failure every time it’s been tried. I agree they should be used as an example to elect more people who will slow down, stop or reverse the policies that have created the very problems government claims it wants to solve. However, I am torn about whether anything should be done to actually “save” Portland. A complete collapse that costs it’s residents everything they have at the same time the hammock returns to a minimalist safety net would be a fitting punishment for their idiocy.

  • Jeff Heyen

    The ORP did exploit this issues pretty effectively in the 2016 Election cycle and again with some of the ANTIFA traffic blockades of downtown, etc. I hope they do so again as law and order still escapes Portlandia. I avoid the place like the plague.

  • Dave Lister

    I think the answer is simple, Alex. There are no Republicans in Portland. Why talk about changing Portland when the people in Portland couldn’t care less? Take a drive around inner NE or SE and see all the “In Our America” lawn signs. It’s a lost cause. If you go to Bend, or Medford, or maybe even Ashland or Eugene and say “look what single party rule has done to Portland” it just doesn’t resonate.

    • Bob Clark

      Dave, I lived near southeast Portland up until the early 2010s; and the number of registered republicans in my precinct was 5%. I tried going to my Neighborhood Association meetings but it was so discouraging as people there mostly were carrying water for Metro’s central planners. An anti Density type tried to take control of the Board but was run off. Bob Stacey came to the meetings, and said the lack of planned parking with the redo of Division was just an innocent mistake.
      You are right on. It’s the electorate. They come to celebrate Kumbaya (from California, etc, or maybe brained washed in their upbringing by PPS) even if they’ve got to bust a few heads for their cause.

      • Dave Lister

        Yes, it has really changed. I grew up in SE. Went to Grout GS and Cleveland HS. Graduated in 1972 with a world class secondary education, including two years of Latin, two years of Spanish and four years of Mechanical drawing and engineering. I stayed in East Portland for my entire life until about five years ago.

        Funny thing… when I ran for PDX council against Sten and Burdick in 2006 I discovered most of my financial supporters had already moved their homes outside of town. Lots of them still had businesses, but not their homes. They were all in the burbs. I saw the same thing at my HS reunions. All the Cleveland grads no longer lived in Portland. I was actually one of the last to leave.
        Portland is a lost cause for now. Maybe forever. Let the hipsters and bums have it. We are not going to change it.

        The destruction started with Goldschmidt and Katz pretty well completed it.

    • George Strong

      White leftists deserve whatever terrible thing happens to them. Non-whites accept filth and chaos, but whites have lifted up the world, and to betray our history is just plain evil.

      • Dave Lister

        When I ran for city council I received lots of racist e mail. I hit delete without replying. I wish I could hit delete on your comment.

        • George Strong

          Delete yourself, gay Dave Lister.

          • Dave Lister

            I’m easy to find, tough guy.

          • George Strong

            Dave Lister, power bottom, cruising Disqus for his next gay date. lol

  • David Clark

    Anothe REALLY BIG issue is density – teardown of affordable homes – replace them with million dollar homes – tiny houses on small lots – apartments with NO parking – traffic congestion – unaffordable housing.

  • Bob Clark

    I try my best to avoid Portland altogether but it’s difficult, especially when Metro routes traffic flows and new residents towards the City of Portland. I was in downtown to take care of some business this last week before Christmas, and the foot traffic is pretty robust. So, even as Portland is becoming like a big city in India with stark differences between folks in living conditions and positions in life; it still seems to be a robust business center. There are maybe two causes: one is the artificial one called Metro and the Urban “Growth” Boundary which forces and subsidizes stacking people up in the City of Portland. Two, is the natural economic synergies which occur by bringing business and technological workers together in close quarters.
    Another part of it is the Obama years were really good to Oregon in expansion of the Government sector, which much of downtown Portland is about. The construction in down town is still feeding off these Government golden years. Draining the Swamp not too surprisingly doesn’t sell well in government rich down town Portland.

  • Dave Lister

    Ignore the Alynskyite behind the curtain everyone. Evidently Reed College is back in session early this year.