Assessing the impact of Wisconsin's foiled recall effort this week of GOP Governor Scott Walker can be tricky for a state such as Oregon. First off, we haven't had a Republican governor here since Vic Atiyeh a quarter century ago. But we have had, at both the state and local level, encouraging examples of collaboration between political parties and between political leaders and organized labor.
After reaching a 30-30 tie in the 2010 election, Republicans and Democrats in the Oregon House agreed to share power. Co-Speakers Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg, and Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, avoided most partisan flare-ups during the 2011 and 2012 sessions and instead made a round of statewide joint appearances to discuss key policy decisions. (Two former House speakers from different parties in Pennsylvania are serving time in the same state prison and may become bunkmates.)
Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen found a way to work with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which agreed for the second time in three years to forego cost-of-living increases in return for leaving employee health benefits unchanged
Governor Kitzhaber counseled Oregon labor leaders to put aside potentially divisive ballot measures dealing with corporate taxation and higher taxes on the wealthy and focus instead on a measure to direct corporate kicker refunds to education. Kitzhaber said he would pursue another attempt to revamp Oregon's tax system, which is heavily reliant on personal income tax revenues, including capital gains.
These are stark contrasts to the bitterness that has gripped Wisconsin since Walker's election and his survival of a politically motivated recall drive.
Many pundits have drawn their own conclusions from the Wisconsin election. Republicans say it is a harbinger of GOP success in the November general election. Unions and Democrats blame their loss on being hugely outspent. Exit polls showed as many as 60 percent of voters in what was a relatively small turnout said they disagreed with using the power of recall for political reasons.