Oregon Midterms: Winners and Losers
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Oregon Democrats Governor John Kitzhaber, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer won handily. Democrats were also projected to pick up seats in the Oregon State Senate and House of Representatives.
Marijuana Gets the Base Out
The biggest surprise of the night was that Measure 91 passed with a wide margin.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, with 71 percent of the vote in, 91 was passing with 54 percent saying yes and 46 percent saying no.
Chief petitioner Anthony Johnson wrote in a Tuesday night email, “Oregonians had the wisdom to consider this measure based upon its merits and to move past the outdated information of a failed prohibitionist system.”
Slideshow Below: Oregon Election Night
“I’m not surprised that it won, but given what people expected - that turnout would be down - the margin of victory was really surprising,” said political strategist Len Bergstein. “It energized the base.”
Typically, midterm elections see low turnout from Democrats and liberals. Given that, recent polls showed the measure could have failed.
Bergstein believes Democrats in other states may try to use pot legalization to get out voters for 2016.
“It’s a good tool for getting the base vote out,” Bergstein said. “I think it sets the stage for a lot of western states for 2016.”
Jill Harris, a representative for Drug Policy Action - the single largest financial contributor to the campaign - said the organization is looking forward to the 2016 election and legalizing marijuana in more states.
GMO Puts Up a Fight
At 11 p.m. Measure 92 was too close to call, with 69 percent of the votes counted, 51 percent voting no and 49 percent voting yes.
Operatives for the Yes on 92 campaign were optimistic that the measure could still receive enough votes to pass. Heavily liberal Multnomah County still had a significant number of votes to be counted.
"The vote is already closer than it was when the measure ran in California and Washington so that's very optimistic," said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety at the 'Yes on 92' campaign’s party on Tuesday night.
“It's amazing to me that it’s gone so well considering the amount of money that has been spent against it,” Bergstein said. “It’s one of the most impressive campaigns of its type in Oregon history.”
All told, over $20 million dollars was spent to try and defeat the campaign, almost all of it out-of-state money, making it the most expensive ballot campaign in Oregon history. Donors included Monsanto, which contributed over $5 million and DuPont Pioneer, which contributed over $4.6 million.
Sheryl Sauer, a communications office for DuPont Pioneer said, “We believe consumers should have access to the information they need to make decisions about their food,” and that the company would continue working to identify a national solution that meets consumers' needs.
Democrats Gain Power in Oregon, Wyden loses some
With stronger majorities in both houses Democrats might try to revisit issues like gun control and creating a legal aide fund for indigent suspects: two ideas that died in previous legislative sessions.
Bergstein said the driver’s card’s for undocumented immigrants might even get revisited, even though Measure 88 went down in flames on Tuesday.
“They have a commanding lead,” Bergstein said. “It will open the gates on a bunch of social policy issues.”
That said, the Democrats suffered a major midterm loss in Congress. By early Wednesday morning, Republicans were projected to pick up seven U.S. Senate seats and 13 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
That’s bad news for the President, who the GOP have been relentlessly grinding away at for the past six years.
But locally it means that Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden will get bumped off his chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee.
Wyden has fought to keep federal dollars flowing to rural Oregon, mostly in the form of timber payments. With him losing his chairmanship, keeping to his old agenda may be difficult.
Related Slideshow: Oregon Midterm Election Night 2014
GoLocalPDX has the highlights of some of the midterm election parties here.