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Entries in Chris Telfer (5)

Wednesday
May162012

Low Turnout Marks Primary Voting

Nearly seven of 10 registered Oregon voters saved postage and didn't vote in Tuesday's primary election that booted two legislative incumbents, dismissed the business community's favorite for mayor of Portland and effectively elected a new attorney general. Turnout was low despite a presidential primary in which the major nominees already had been chosen.

Even a spirited Portland mayoral race failed to spark voter interest in Multnomah County, as Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith finished atop a crowded field to fight on in November. New Seasons co-founder and establishment favorite Eileen Brady saw her early lead wilt away in the final days of the campaign.

Clackamas County became the test garden for Tea Party politics in Oregon as former Wilsonville Mayor John Ludlow emerged to challenge sitting Chair Charlotte Lehan this fall. Ludlow swept past previous conservative favorite Paul Savas, who will retain his seat on the Clackamas County Commission, and former House Speaker Dave Hunt, who finished a disappointing fourth. The same political tussle shapes up as Commissioner Jamie Damon faces conservative former House member Tootie Smith. Former Commissioner and state Senator Martha Schrader won her seat in Tuesday's election.

Women activists touted a number of key wins, led by Ellen Rosenblum's comfortable victory in the Democratic primary for attorney general over Dwight Holton. Despite marijuana laws strangely becoming a focal point in the campaign, Rosenblum should face only token Republican opposition in the general election after GOP operatives mounted a write-in campaign for James Buchal. Since Attorney General John Kroger plans to resign by this summer, it is possible Rosenblum will be appointed to fill out the rest of his term and run as the incumbent in November.

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Monday
May142012

Two Legislative Incumbents Face Primary Defeat

Two legislative incumbents could get the boot in Tuesday's primary election, and Democratic voters will effectively decide who will be the next Oregon attorney general. What happens in the tight Portland mayoral race is anyone's guess, including pollsters.

Democratic Rep. Mike Schaufler of Happy Valley and GOP Senator Chris Telfer of Bend face unusually tough challenges in their respective primaries, with some political observers and pollsters predicting both could lose.

Schaufler is being opposed by political newcomer Jeff Reardon, while Telfer faces a challenge from former House Majority Leader Tim Knopp. 

Schaufler's race, which has seen support thrown to Reardon by some of his House Democratic colleagues, is an example of what can happen when a political figure on the philosophical edge of his or her caucus gets entangled in a controversy. Schaufler was accused last year of groping a woman lobbyist at a labor convention, which resulted in him being stripped of his chairmanship of a key House committee.

Telfer's contest is somewhat similar, but aggravated by complaints that she didn't talk regularly to constituents or lobbyists. Knopp certainly offers more red-meat appeal to the conservative Republican base than Telfer. He also may have more statewide political appeal than Telfer, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for state treasurer.

In the attorney general's race, two Democrats, Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum, are duking it out over who would be tougher on corporate criminals, deadbeat dads and marijuana users. Both have high-profile campaigns with top-level political endorsements. Whoever wins Tuesday will face only token opposition in the fall. Republicans failed to field a candidate, but are trying to mount a write-in campaign so there is at least somebody on the ballot in November. 

Since Attorney General John Kroger plans to leave office this summer to become president of Reed College, Governor Kitzhaber will be under pressure to appoint the winner of the Democratic primary to complete the rest of Kroger's term, allowing him or her to run this fall as the incumbent.

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Tuesday
Apr172012

Two Legislative Incumbents Face Stiff Challenges

It is unusual but not unheard of that two sitting legislators — a House Democrat and a Senate Republican — are facing stiff primary challenges. Even more unusual, both could lose in the May election.

Rep. Mike Schaufler, D-Happy Valley, a member of the building trades, often parts company with his more liberal Democratic colleagues, as well as public employee labor organizations, such as SEIU and AFSCME.

Plus, last summer at a labor convention, he got into trouble when a female lobbyist claimed he groped her breast. Schaufler called it "innocent horseplay."  House Democrats took the incident seriously and stripped Schaufler of the chairmanship of House Business and Labor Committee.

Now many of Schaufler's Democratic colleagues are backing his primary opponent, Portland teacher Jeff Reardon, who has never run for political office before. 

Here's the way Oregonian political reporter Jeff Mapes described the high-stakes and money-laden Schaufler-Reardon race:

         The newly detailed disclosure reports show that — if money is indeed the mother's milk of politics — two incumbent legislators face tough reelection races. In a House district including parts of Southeast Portland and Clackamas County, six Democratic legislators took the rare step of writing campaign checks aimed at taking out one of their own colleagues, Rep. Mike Schaufler, D-Happy Valley. The six lawmakers wrote checks totaling more than $10,000 for high school teacher Jeff Reardon's race against Schaufler, who has departed from Democratic orthodoxy on some issues and also lost a committee co-chairmanship following a flap about his behavior at a labor convention. 'There's always a risk when you do something like this,' said Portland Senator Ginny Burdick, who gave $1,500 to Reardon. Portland Senator Chip Shields gave Reardon $5,000. Schaufler, who has released his own list of legislators endorsing him, continues to have strong support from several business and labor groups and maintains a fundraising lead over Reardon.

The other incumbent under fire is Senator Chris Telfer, R-Bend. She was surprised to learn just before the candidate-filing deadline that former representative Tim Knopp, now executive director of the Central Oregon Homebuilders Association, decided to run against her.

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Friday
Mar092012

Legislative Control Center of Political Battles

Candidate filing day produced one clear conclusion — the political battles in Oregon this year will center on House and Senate races key to determining which party is in control when the 2013 legislature convenes. The House is split 30-30 and Democrats narrowly control the Senate 16-14.

Republicans failed to field a candidate for state treasurer or attorney general, even though the latter will be an open seat. Republican Bruce Starr is challenging Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, a Democrat, but it is a non-partisan post.

Republicans and Democrats see the battle for control of the House through different lenses. Rep. Kevin Cameron, R-Salem, told The Oregonian, "I want to avoid the one-party situation in the future so at least there's a healthy balance in the policy coming out of this building."

Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said, "Democrats were blocked from passing stronger consumer legislation and from more closely scrutinizing tax breaks that take away money for services. We are going to get a lot of national attention... Oregon is one of the most likely legislative chambers in the country to shift to Democratic control."

Retirements could play a significant role in tipping the partisan balance in both the House and Senate. Two GOP senators are calling it quits — Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, and Dave Nelson, R-Pendleton. Both seats tilt heavily Republican. However, the Senate seat held by retiring Joanne Verger, D-Coos Bay, could prove pivotal. 

House Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, is running for the seat against Scott Roberts, a Coos Bay physician. Roblan beat Roberts in 2010 in a House race. If Roblan wins again, the seat will remain in the Democratic column and it may be difficult for Republicans to control, or even earn a 15-15 split.

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Monday
Jan162012

Murky Jargon Blurs Budget Clarity

A headline in The Oregonian several weeks ago made the point that murky words get in the way of public understanding of health care reform issues. An Oregonian editorial last weekend urged Governor Kitzhaber to do a better job of sketching the details of his vision of education and health care reform. 

Murkiness also exists when it comes to general budget issues as legislators head to their first official annual session two weeks from now.

Consider these facts/perceptions about the budget:

         *  The state economist says the general fund is down by $305 million from the close of the 2011 legislative session. On a total general fund budget of more than $14 billion for a biennium, that is a rounding factor. Still, perceptions exist that cuts to K-12, higher education, cops and prisons and social services will be in the offing during the February session.

         *  One key legislator on the Joint Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee was spending time in his office several weeks ago preparing a cut list of about $500 million. Those cuts, if enacted, would exceed the total $305 million revenue drop projected so far. 

         *  Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, House co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, took credit earlier this fall for holding back a "reasonable ending balance of $460 million when the committee he co-chairs approved the 2011-13 budget." In his on-line newsletter, he added this noteworthy quote:  "...the good news is that having withstood the political pressure to spend every dollar and by retaining the $460 million ending balance, none of the $305 million of reduced revenue will be taken from the budgets for public safety, human services or education."

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