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Entries in Election (7)

Monday
Nov082010

The "Two Oregons:" Alive and Well Again

If any one still wonders if there are two Oregons, just look at this map.Image via fivethirtyeight.com

It confirms again what we have seen several times – Democrats in Multnomah County vote early and late and pull the Democrats, in this case, John Kitzhaber, to victory over Republican Chris Dudley in one of the closest governor's races in history. Of Oregon's 36 counties, Kitzhaber won only seven; Dudley won the other 29. Moreover, in Multnomah County, Kitzhaber won 71 percent of the vote to 27 percent for Dudley.

Voters who watched the final results roll in last week must have thought they were re-living the situation two years ago when Democrat Jeff Merkley pulled ahead in late returns to upset U.S. Senator Gordon Smith.

For Republicans, the two Oregons are a reality that is hard, perhaps even impossible, to overcome. Even a Republican moderate and a newcomer like Dudley can't do the trick, pulling only about 25 percent of the votes in the state's most populous county while he surged in rural Oregon.

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Wednesday
Nov032010

First Thoughts on the Election Returns

The results board at the Senate Democrats' election night party gave an early hint at a shift of power.November 2 was full of surprises. Close races, surprise upsets and easy victories marked this election.

Although Republican Chris Dudley's gubernatorial lead stands at 15,000 votes, it won't last and John Kitzhaber will be elected governor.  Around 65,000 Multnomah County ballots remain to be counted.  Kitzhaber is winning Multnomah County by roughly 70% of the vote, with Dudley at 28%.   If this margin stays consistent, it will be a net pick up of around 26,000 votes for Kitzhaber.  A smattering of votes are coming in from other counties (including liberal Lane County), but Multnomah will decide this election.  The final tally should give Kitzhaber a win by 5,000 to 15,000 votes.

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Wednesday
Nov032010

Compromise or Capitulation?

The words Ted Sorensen used to write JFK's inaugural speech still ring true in politics today.

"So let us begin anew – remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us."

That quote was written in 1961 by John F. Kennedy's speechwriter, Ted Sorenson, who died last week. Used in JFK's Inaugural Address, the quote seems fitting to recall as all of us recover from an election that often focused more on acrimony and allegation than high-sounding public policy themes.

One question to ask is whether those who ran for election can make the transition from electioneering to governor. Another, posed recently by a reporter on a network news and public affairs show:  "Does compromise mean capitulation?"

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Tuesday
Nov022010

Tim Duy Says Economic Situation Won't Help New Governor Make Friends

The next Oregon governor needs to keep in mind that there isn't an easy way out of this budget mess, said Tim Duy, an economist from the University of Oregon, at the October 21 Oregon Economic Forum. If Oregon makes bad budget decisions, he said it could become the next California.

The budget cuts the legislature makes now should be viewed as permanent cuts, Duy said. Governor Ted Kulongoski's Reset Cabinet predicted a decade of "recession," or very slow growth, when its report came out earlier this year. Duy agreed, and said the legislature likely won't be able to refund programs until 2020. Balanced budgets, Duy said, will require a hard look at state employee compensation.

Oregon could experience an "echo recession" in 2011-13, according to Duy. While corporations and households are finished making adjustments (lower output and spending), the efforts by the federal government may not have been momentous enough to pull the economy out of the doldrums permanently.

The recession ended four quarters ago, when the economy stopped free-falling and started growing again. But per-quarter growth has been miniscule, so it doesn't really feel like a recovery, said Duy. The economy is still far below its 2007 levels.

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Thursday
Oct282010

Friends Have a Falling Out

Measure 76 would preserve a percentage of Oregon Lottery revenue for environmental protection.Oregon’s Measure 76 reminds me of Israel’s foreign policy principle: “My Enemy’s Enemy is my Friend.” The November initiative would make permanent 1998’s Constitutional Amendment that allocates 15 percent of lottery revenues for conservation of State Parks and salmon.

Measure 76 is brought to us by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and is supported by most Oregon environmental organizations. Environmentalists’ opinions are very important to Democrat leaders in Oregon. However, Oregon’s other liberal power brokers, public-employee and teacher unions, oppose Measure 76 because it will dedicate some lottery funds that could help with Oregon’s $3 billion budget deficit.

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Tuesday
Oct262010

Get Out The Vote, or Sit Out The Vote?

The opening shot of a campaign ad from Latinos for Reform, urging Latino voters to demand respect from elected officials.With the election just days away, campaigns are focusing less on convincing voters which bubble on the ballot to fill in, and are more concerned with how many people actually fill out a ballot. Get out the vote (GOTV) efforts are in full swing.

President Obama came to Portland to stump for gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber last week. Ten thousand people crammed into the Oregon Convention Center to hear him speak; many more watched the speech live on the television or Internet.

The consensus was that Obama's speech in Portland sounded a lot like his 2008 campaign speeches. He got supporters in the room fired up and ready to go. Obama visited five western states in four days to lend political clout to Democrat candidates in tight races, and he's already canvassed cities in the Midwest.

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Monday
Oct252010

Handicapping the State Legislative Races

Republicans likley will pick up some House seats, but not enough to overturn the balance of power.While the drama in Washington, D.C., is focused on whether Republicans can make the necessary gains to capture control of Congress, here in the Oregon, the question is focused on whether the GOP can break the Democrat’s “supermajority” control.

A supermajority allows the controlling party to run the chamber at will, with little need for minority assistance to pass bills.  In Oregon, this is particularly important because the state’s constitution requires a three-fifths majority vote to raise taxes.

We remain convinced that Democrats will win enough seats to keep control of the Oregon Senate and House (current margins are 18-12 in the Senate and 36-24 in the House). 

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