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Archive for November 2010

The next election…

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Sure, it hasn’t even been a month yet since the 2010 General Election, and most people have gone back into their normal state of largely passive indifference to politics.  Some are aware and thinking about the next major battle in the Second American Revolution, scheduled for nearly two years from now but, for the most part, even they aren’t really thinking much about that yet.

Well, I hope you realize we don’t really have that long a wait before the next election.  In Oregon, and in most other states, there are elections every year.  In fact, the next election in Oregon is in May 2011 and, in many ways, it’s more important than the ones where we elect state and national representatives.  And the funny thing is they’re much easier for conservatives to win.

In May of the odd-numbered years, Oregon holds elections for school boards, local school committees and a number of other local non-partisan, unpaid boards and commissions.  Over the years, the Democrats have dominated these positions, and it’s one of the reasons there are so many school districts going in the wrong direction.  More to the point, these are the boards and commissions which control things like charter schools or online schools, which tend to do a better job of teaching at a lower price than regular public schools.  Conservatives are often interested in that sort of thing but, for some reason, liberals seem to want to make sure everyone gets the same education, even if it’s doing badly.

Unlike legislative races, there are seldom large amounts of money needed to conduct a campaign; you don’t usually see lawn signs or bumper stickers for school board races.  Fulfilling the duties, if you’re elected, is considerably less difficult to coordinate with a job – you’d have meetings once or twice a month and, occasionally, special projects and the like.  In other words, it’s a great way to learn how to conduct a campaign and do the job of a public servant.  That’s why it’s sometimes called the “farm team” of politics; like the minor leagues and farm teams of professional sports, it’s a way for people to get involved, get some experience and get something to put on their Voter’s Pamphlet statement when it asks for “government experience”.

So, why do I bring this up?  This is a great project for people interested in returning this country to its Constitutional basis to get the experience they need to succeed.  The Democrats have been doing it for years, and it’s one of the reasons conservatives are boxed in on all sides.  It’s also where the policies decided by the legislature and Department of Education are put into practice; wouldn’t it be better if someone really concerned about the kids were making those decisions?

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Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

18 November 2010 at 2:36 pm

Why we lost the big ones in Oregon

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All things considered, we did all right in Oregon.  We brought both chambers of the legislature back from a Democrat supermajority to dead even in the House and nearly even in the Senate.  We’d have tied up the Senate as well if Jackson County hadn’t kept “discovering” and counting votes until they got the result they wanted, but we’re not going to correct that problem until we have a Secretary of State that isn’t corrupt.  Keep that in mind for 2012.

We did, however, lose the big races in Oregon, bucking a trend that saw the US House overrun by Republicans , the Senate all but tied up, a host of Republican Governors and even a bunch of new Republican-dominated state legislatures .  The “Remember November” tsunami may have turned into a red tide in Oregon, but part of the problem is we had a seriously uphill battle in several cases.  Blumenauer and DeFazio were going to be hard to beat no matter what, and both Lopez and Robinson did an excellent job getting the results they did.  We all knew Telfer and Huffman started off trailing so badly after the Primary that they’d have a tough time catching up and their campaigns never seemed to catch fire.  So what happened there isn’t much of a surprise.

However, the three races we could have, or even should have, won we didn’t.  And it looks like the reason Dudley, Cornilles and, to a lesser extent, Bruun fell by the wayside is essentially the same reason Huffman fell flat.   They bought into what the “certified smart” folks have peddled for years, which has led to defeat after Republican defeat.

NW Republican (http://nwrepublican.blogspot.com/2010/11/chris-dudleydan-laveykerry-tymchuck.html)  has done an excellent job detailing the underpinnings of the Dudley defeat, and there’s no reason to restate those here.  This writer had only minimal contact with the Bruun race and would only be able to comment on what seems to be the case rather than from personal and objective observation.  However, having been a fixture in the Washington County Victory effort and in persistent contact with the Cornilles campaign since he first announced some 16 months earlier, there’s a lot a careful and experienced observer can report.

From the beginning, Rob did exactly what he should have to gain the office.  He went through established channels – former Senator Gordon Smith to Representative Greg Walden – to get to the folks back east.  He made a public announcement, worked the party leadership, contacted the principal donors and ran a campaign focused on November rather than May.  His nomination was a given before the official filing date in March and, despite a good showing, his Primary opponents never stood a real chance.  Doug and John won’t like hearing that, but that’s the way it is.

The problem is Rob paid a lot more attention to folks brought in from DC in April and July rather than those who have lived and campaigned in the First District for years, even decades.  There are folks here who know what it will take to beat David Wu and, frankly, it’s the same sort of thing that pushed Republicans over the finish line all over the country. But it’s something the “certified smart” specialists from the consulting firms avoid like progressives avoid tax cuts.

In a word, it’s leadership, and Rob was never allowed to show his.

A leader says “This is the direction we need to go,” and defines specific things he’ll do if elected.  In this cycle, repealing Obamacare and extending (or even expanding) the Bush tax cuts would have garnered interest and intensity.  However, the “certified smart” mantra is never make a statement your opponent can use against you.  As a result, Rob campaigned on a message of “Well, I’m not a Democrat” (designed to catch a ride on the Tea Party surf) and refusing to commit to repealing Obamacare, even if Republicans had a veto-proof majority.

Rob Cornilles is one of the best candidates to run since the Democrats took control of Oregon’s First District some thirty-odd years ago.  He’s amazingly able, bright, clever, dedicated, determined, energetic and engaging.  He really needs to run again, either for Congress or for some other office.  At 44%, he by far did the best against David Wu since Molly Bordanaro came up short with 47% when the two newcomers ran against each other in 1996.  During his concession speech, he said we hadn’t seen the last of him in politics – and that he’d make an announcement in the upcomings weeks along those lines.  It’s not too much to hope that means this is just the first race he enters.  If he does it right, he will win.

Rob’s leadership ability is clear from his successfully creating and then filling a niche in a niche industry.  We definitely need “citizen legislators” with a business background, not just in Congress but at all levels.  The hope is he’s learned from this experience and, while keeping an ear open to the folks from Back East who funnel so much money into these elections, he’ll also take the advice of people who live here.

If so,  next time it could be Wu giving the concession speech…

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

10 November 2010 at 11:57 am

Deeper thoughts on the election

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There’s been a bit of comment from the media and the like about how Chris Dudley didn’t do as well as expected in Washington County.  First, I disagree; it seems to me his real problem, like Kevin Mannix’s in 2002, were the 70,000 ballots held back in Multnomah County and which turned a close Election Night Republican victory into a close defeat.  But we’re never going to prove political malfeasance in the People’s Republic of Portland; as has been commented in the past, Republicans have to win by at least 3% in order to overcome the systemic fraud.

But, giving the “certified smart” crowd the credit due them, let’s look at the idea that Washington County was at the heart of Dudley’s defeat.  I can tell you, it wasn’t for lack of trying.  We had one and, eventually, two full-time offices in Washington County, pumping out voter ID and Get Out The Vote (GOTV) calls and door-to-door reminders by the thousands.  Chris Dudley and Rob Cornilles were our main men, and folks can tell you they received calls – sometimes three and four in a day – from those offices, encouraging them to get their ballot turned in.  Kevin Hoar, Andrew Ward, Polly Warren and a host of others, including this writer, spend endless hours making those things hum.  In terms of organization and effort, they cannot be faulted.  They were joined by others around the state but, when all the numbers are in, it was the two offices in Washington County that lead the pack in output.  That, clearly, wasn’t the problem.

So, if the effort isn’t the problem, what is?  I think there are three components; shifting demographics, unhelpful helpers and sunshine soldiers.  Let me explain.

Over the past couple of decades, the demographics of Washington County have changed.  Fleeing the taxes and government intrusion rampant in Multnomah County, a lot of folks filled up the urban growth boundary and the condos it caused.  Unfortunately, they brought their ideology with them, not realizing that was what caused the problems they were trying to escape.  As a result, a large chuck of the population, particularly in the denser areas as you get closer to Portland, tend to vote “No” on new taxes while electing people who propose them.  As evidence, track the voter registration shifts.

There’s nothing anyone can do about demographics; Earl Blumenauer and Greg Walden have seats virtually for life (although, to give her credit, Delia Lopez made an excellent showing in the Third District) and that’s largely due to the kind of folks voting for them.  What we can affect, however, is voter turnout – how many of our known voters get their ballot in versus how many of theirs do.  While we did a good job – Republican-registered voters turned out in significantly greater percentages than did Democrats – there were holes in the process.  To understand where the “unhelpful helpers” and “sunshine soldiers” come in and how they affected things, I have to explain what we were trying to do.

Get out the vote efforts typically account for a swing of 4-6% in the final election outcome.  In other words, if Candidate “Red” Runner would have gotten 48% (and lost) without a GOTV effort, it could bring him 52-54% (and a win) instead.  It is, quite frankly, one of the most powerful tools in any campaign’s arsenal; things like yard signs, palm cards, parade walks and town halls typically net less than 1% each and, while TV and radio commercials count for a lot, basically what you do with those is make sure people know the candidate’s name and what they’re running for.

You need to realize GOTV is actually a two-part process; first, you have to find the folks who are going to vote for your guy and then you have to get them to vote.  If they support you but forget to cast their ballot and, in Oregon, get it in on time, it’s useless.

As there usually are, there were a lot of people who wouldn’t get with the program.  What they did helped but, because it wasn’t part of the overall plan, it didn’t help as much.  I’m aware of a number of well-intentioned people who did what worked so well when they did it in “that mayor’s race” 15 years ago, hitting hundreds of houses in an evening with campaign literature for Chris Dudley and Rob Cornilles.  And the folks who’ve never been involved in a campaign before thinking in terms of quantity rather than quality and declining to fill out the survey’s that would have told us who those dozens of potential Huffman voters were so we could remind them to get their ballot in.  The help is appreciated, but it’s not as helpful as it could have been if they’d just filled out the surveys and let us know who was voting for our guys and gals.

Thomas Paine, in Common Sense, mentions “sunshine soldiers”, those who would fight for freedom as long as it wasn’t inconvenient.   We had a lot of people, paid and unpaid, involved in the final effort, but the real need for lots of people and lots of time is during the voter ID phase.  Think about it; that’s when we winnow out the bad phone numbers, people who are voting for the other folks and, some of the time, finding the gems – folks who were going to vote for our guys.  It’s long, boring and tedious work so, not too many people showed up.  They were there when the candidates visited, during the closing days, because there was excitement and recognition, and they did play an important part – I don’t want to diminish that.  But the real son or daughter of liberty is the one who was there when there was no glory.

Would you like proof?  How about the “three and four calls a day” mentioned earlier?  Sure, there would be some households with two or three voters in it, each programmed to receive a call, but getting several of them in a day means we had a small pool to work with – smaller than needed, anyway.   And that traces back to not enough fishermen during the summer months finding those voters supporting Dudley, Cornilles and other Republican candidates.

Want more proof?  Three candidates used the Hillsboro call center to full advantage.  They based their campaigns there, paid for voter ID callers and even ran a special night once a week to focus on their districts and their races.  As a result, Senator Starr beat back the strongest opposition of his political career – one which the opinion polls indicated he should have lost – and newcomers Shawn Lindsey and Katie Eyre-Brewer won over stout competition.  All exceeded projections by 3-5%, while most other state Representative and Senate candidates in the county – including those with (largely unused) offices in the building – lost by at least a few percent.

There’s even more evidence of the trend.  Andy Duyck, of the three Republican County Commission candidates during the Primary, used the phone bank system to identify supporters and get out the vote.  He won by more than 50% in May and, as a result, didn’t need a run-off.  The other two never did use the office to it’s full potential; both came in with less than 50% in the Primary and, while one won in the General, the other didn’t.

We can’t do much about the demographics, but we – you and I – sure can do something about doing the voter ID process well.   It makes a significant difference in the outcome and, the larger the race (in terms of raw number of voters) the greater the need.  In future elections, every TEA Party and Republican Patriot should plan now to not only spend some time as a volunteer, but also be willing to listen and work with the big picture plan.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

6 November 2010 at 10:10 am

Early thoughts on the first major battle…

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Second American Revolution

For most of the last two years, the United States has been building to what I hope is the Second American Revolution.  This is a revolution that uses ballots rather than bullets but one that will determine whether this is a nation that strives for liberty or devolves into just another oppressed people eking what joy they can from past power and glory.  The first major battle of that modern rebellion was fought last Tuesday and it’s always good to figure out what went well and, more to the point, what didn’t and why.

One major win is that Nancy Pelosi will no longer be third in line for the Presidency.  She held on to her position as a Representative from California, but there was a significant change in the House.  It’s a bit early to tell the final count for sure, but it’s clear the Democrats lost their supermajority.  The Republicans don’t have enough to  overturn a veto but they don’t need it; the Obama effort to fundamentally change America is stalled – assuming, of course, the American people keep paying attention and Congress pays attention to what they say.  There’s no guarantee, unfortunately, that either will be true.

The situation in the Senate is a little less rosy.  Projections show it as close to an even split as you can get, and there’s the Murray/Rossi race in Washington state that will make the difference.  Here’s hoping Rossi doesn’t experience the same disappointment as he did in 2004, when Democrats kept counting the ballots until they got the result they wanted and his win as Governor was turned into a loss.  With Vice President Joe Biden as the tie-breaker in the upper chamber, Harry Reid will still be the Senate President, but he’ll be ruling over a much different dynamic.  Heck, they might even start taking input from Republicans.

Yeah, right.

The Senate is also where three key races ended in defeat for the cause of liberty.  As already implied, Harry Reid seems to have beat Sharon Angle in Nevada, the race in Alaska apparently went to sore loser Lisa Murkowski and upstart Christine O’Donnell didn’t quite make the cut in Delaware.  Over the next several days and months I’m pretty sure the MSM and “certified smart” people on both the left and the right are going to be talking about how this is a loss, a disappointment or at least evidence  the Tea Party movement isn’t really all that much of an issue.  Don’t believe them.  We haven’t seen the last of these folks and the dream of a return to a Constitutional Republic is still quite alive, thank you very much.

And don’t forget “Tea Party” favorites like Michele Bachman and Mike Lee  were successful.   As the war continues, some of the other elected officials can still catch on.

Remember, this was just the first major battle of this revolution.  While the rebels held the mighty British army at bay during the Battle of Breed’s Hill (often called Bunker Hill), they were eventually routed so it wasn’t a clear victory.  Most battles – particularly early ones – don’t have clear winners and losers.  The important thing is that we’ve had the battle, we won more than we lost and, at the end of the day, the Obama/Reid/Pelosi stampede to socialism has been stalled.

We have other skirmishes and battles ahead of us but, as first tests of resolve go, this one didn’t go at all badly.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

4 November 2010 at 6:46 am

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