Redistricting: Oregon can’t afford “Brownmandering”

by Brendan Monaghan

There’s an old historical saying that “all roads lead to Rome,” and in Oregon, that phrase is true of Portland. So much so that Tri-Met changed their logo in 2002 because three circular arrows pointing to a center was seen as too Portland-centric. Perhaps then the Oregon State Legislature should consider this when they redraw the House, Senate, and congressional lines in time for the 2012 elections. The current lines were drawn – not by either legislative body, but by then-People’s Commissar for State Bill Bradbury – after the last census reflected the Democrats’ worldview that all roads (and thus, all metro area districts) lead to and revolve around Portland.

This wasn’t always the case in the past and it doesn’t have to be this way now. A glimpse at Oregon’s House districts from the 1990’s shows that counties and communities of commonality- not partisan gain or incumbent protection- were once the basis for district lines. Particularly in Multnomah County, the legislative districts respected county lines- the only exceptions being District 7 (Sauvie Island to the Sunset Highway) and District 10 (Portland-Happy Valley). Other communities were contained within their respective counties, tied together with people who shared their interests and concerns.

Contrast that to current districts like 27 (Portland-Raleigh Hills), 35 (Portland-Tigard), 38 (Portland-Lake Oswego), 41 (Portland-Milwaukie), 51 (Portland-Estacada), 52 (Portland-Hood River), and 31 (Portland-Astoria). The stated Democrat goal of diversity and bringing together disparate peoples and communities is all well and good, but not when the cynical motivations and observable effect is to reduce diversity of political views in the Legislature itself. Taking advantage of the politically-motivated stalemate, Bradbury cracked Republican voters in the suburbs and packed their districts with reliable Democrats in Portland- peoples that had nothing in common, and before 2002 were rightfully separated.

Republicans, spearheaded in the House by Representative Shawn Lindsay (30, Hillsboro-North Plains), have a redistricting plan that will set things right again, reunite distinct communities that were once cut off from each other, and pull them out of Portland’s orbit of domination. It will maintain balance in the Legislature, give voters more representation in the halls of Salem and Washington, and remind them that their votes do indeed count. Members who could once rest on their laurels every two years knowing they could count on the reliable votes of Portlanders would actually have to work and fight for every vote as their seats would no longer be safe beyond the point of competition.

Of course, as Democrats know they have an ally in current People’s Commissar for State Kate Brown (who mere months ago vetoed a proposed initiative that would have cleaned up this messy, hyper-partisan process of redistricting), they have no incentive to cooperate. Quite the contrary, the more they gum up the works and refuse to work with Republicans and do everything they can to prevent the plan from passing, the more necessary it will become for Brown to resolve the dispute and draw our districts her way. Her record as we have observed from her time in the Legislature to her current office is one of blind and unwavering devotion to Party; the interests of every other Oregonian be damned.

Is there anyone, Republican or Democrat, who seriously doubts her districts will be drawn to maximize Democrat gains in the Oregon House and Senate? Or that without accountability, Democrats would err on the side of protecting their own congressional incumbents- tiger suits and all? Just this past November, Democrats won 51% of the congressional vote and 80% of the seats. There are ways for you, the ordinary Oregon voter, to get involved in this process. Go to for more information and let the politicians know Oregon can’t afford continued Brownmandering.

Brendan is a graduate student at Portland State Universty, where he hosts the KPSU “Right Jab” radio program. Brendan is studying politcal science, and graduated from The Ohio State University in 2007, with a degree in political science.

  • Truthisoutthere

    You can never trust the Dems to be honest about anything. Never.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Kate Brown makes Bill Bradbury look like an honest man. I wouldn’t expect anything but the absolute nadir of human behaviour to come out of her office.

  • wnd

    Kate you just hear it now?
    “Going so soon? I wouldn’t hear of it. Why my little party’s just beginning.”

  • The issue of redistricting should be approached in a fair-minded and non-partisan way. What reason do we have to suppose, based on the screed and half-assed invectives in your post, that fair-minded and non-partisan are actually a part of your vocabulary?

    Say what you’d like about Kate Brown, but I have known her to indulge in ad hominem personal attacks or question the integrity of any of her Republican colleagues in the juvenile way that you have done here. Frankly, it’s not the sort of thing I’d expect from a grad student.

    Having said that, I agree that the legislature does not have a good track record of discharging with their constitutionally-mandated obligation of drawing district boundaries, and I think it would be a shame if we see the same kind of hyper-partisan B.S. in 2011 that characterized the process in 2001.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      Actually it it not an ad homen attack, quite the opposite in fact.

      Pointing out that someone runs their office in a partisan manner is pointing out professional faults, not personal ones. Thus the exact opposite of an ad hominem attack.

      BTW “ad hominem personal attacks” is a redundancy. One cannot have an ad hominem attack without it being personal.

      Anyway lets face it, no one would seriously argue that BIll Bradbury was known for much else but running his office in an absurdly partisan manner. To go on to say “oh well, yeah, but he didn’t insult people” is all well and good but doesn’t really do much to change the central point. I am sure Bradbury wore nice ties and I am quite sure Kate Brown has great taste in music and probably good interior design sense. That doesn’t change the fact that to expect anything but partisanship from her administration of her office is a little silly.

      • Do you honestly believe that Brandon’s argument is reinforced by acting like the partisan he accuses Brown of being?

        Although I agree that redistricting should be handled by the legislature in an even-handed way, as someone who has had numerous dealings with the secretary of state’s office under both Bradbury and Brown, I can say unequivocally, that Brown has been more fair-minded and less partisan in discharging her office than Bradbury was.

        For example, I would not expect that she will appoint the former executive director of the DPO to handle redistricting for the office as Bradbury did. And although I have disagreed on several occasions with her current director of elections, it is worth noting that he was formerly counsel to the Senate Republican leadership in California.

      • Valley person

        The Secretary of State is elected as a partisan position. Why would you expect it to be run on a strictly non-partisan basis? Tell us something specific Kate Brown has done as secretary of state that you don’t like or that you think is to partisan rather than just saying she is too partisan.

        • eaop

          “Brownmandering” seems apropos and being SOS won’t be the end of it.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          >The Secretary of State is elected as a partisan position. Why would you expect it to be run on a strictly non-partisan basis?

          Considering your excuse of Clinton firing all US attorney and condemnation of Bush firing some US attorney this comment is particularly stupid.

          Its obvious you are ok with someone running their office in an entirely partisan manner so long as they are of your party. If they are of the opposition, then you will squawk your head off if they act in any way partisan at all.

          That’s ok, no one (I dont think even you), has ever claimed you approach things yourself from any but a partisan manner. If they are a Democrat you will defend them no matter how indefensible.

          • Founding Fathers

            Ah, the old “Clinton fired all US Attorneys” canard.

            When a new administration comes in, it is customary for sitting US Attorneys to offer their resignations. Typically, most of those are accepted, but occasionally some US Attorneys will continue even after a change in parties in the White House.

            The problem with what Bush did regarding US Attorneys is that he fired them for not acting in a partisan way. That is far different than the customary acceptance of the resignations of sitting US Attorneys at the beginning of one’s administration.

          • valley person

            I never said anything about who Clinton hired or fired, or who Bush hired or fired. I asked you to give me an example of something Brown did that was too partisan. Instead of doing that you simply repeated your claim and brought up some phantom critique I may have made at some unspecified past date. I don’t need to defend Brown because there is nothing to defend her against.

            It looks like as usual Rupert, you have bupkess. You don’t have any complaint on Brown other than she is a democrat.

          • wnd

            “It is hard to believe that a man (FF) is telling the truth when you know that
            you would lie if you were in his place.”
            ~H.L. Mencken

            Anyhowl, Bill Post’s post should be entered into the Kate Brown veracity proceedings, again and again.


  • True Blue Oregonian

    “It will maintain balance in the Legislature, give voters more representation in the halls of Salem…”

    So.. we’re going to have districts that are equal in population?

  • SK

    I wonder how much Brendanpandering we’re gonna have to put up with.

  • Madashell

    Idiots all.
    Fools in blue Oregon – nothing will change.

  • HiC

    I think SOS Brown deserves a chance to be heard. She may surprise you all.

  • wnd

    For Valley Person and Founding Fathers CONspicuously resembling “Kool-Aid Blue” dyed wool pullovers, take this reminder of something Bill Post said.

    Hmm, as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North would say: “Ooh! What a smell of sulfur.”

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