the whitestick papers

looking at politics from a different perspective

Why we lost the big ones in Oregon

with 2 comments

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…

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Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

10 November 2010 at 11:57 am

2 Responses

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  1. Your analysis is right on the money. I worked on Molly’s campaign in the primary, with a team that was almost entirely locals. She won. Then, the certified ‘smart people’ came in and ran it into the ground. 47% sounds good, but where did she start from? She was engaging, experienced in the ways of DC and good-looking.

    Wu was and is dull as a stone. He is smart, I admit that, but he’s a complete captive of the unions, which any of you who look at campaign contribution reports already know.

    IFO

    12 November 2010 at 12:52 pm

    • Thanks for the confirmation. I was among those local folks; Chair of Washington County GOP at the time. I seem to remember you, Jo; good to hear from you again.

      Jeffrey S. Smith

      12 November 2010 at 6:39 pm


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