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Oregon Politics: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Friday, September 12, 2014


Photo Credit: Oregon State Capitol M.O. Stevens - Own work via Wikimedia Commons.

Every Friday, GoLocalPDX breaks down who's rising and who's falling in the world of Oregon politics.

Check out who made the lists this week.


Merkley vs Wehby: The two candidates for US Senate have agreed to their first scheduled debate, which will be televised on Oct. 14 at KOBI TV in Medford. The debate is hotly anticipated, especially after the two campaigns have released a slew of TV ads earlier this month in which the candidates spar on issues such as jobs, the economy and same-sex marriage. 

Earl Blumenauer: As GoLocal reports, Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis blasted U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer for requesting a federal investigation into alleged misuse of taxpayer money by No on 91, the anti-marijuana campaign. “I think this is an act of political thuggery,” Marquis said. Blumenauer aide Smith disagreed. “People can say what they want,” Smith said. “They just can’t do it with federal money.”

Thank you, Congressman Blumenauer, for stepping in to make sure our tax dollars are used appropriately. 

Same-sex marriage plaintiffs: Six of the plaintiffs in the marriage equality case endorsed Merkley for US Senate; two endorsed Wehby. Wehby hadn’t expressed any interest in the LGBT community until now. In a TV ad that aired this week, Ben West, one of the plaintiffs who endorsed Wehby, said, “We need leaders who have the courage to do what’s right. That’s why I support Monica Wehby for senate. I know she’ll fight for every Oregon family, including mine.”

Marijuana Festival: Hempstalk, a two-day marijuana festival, wants to hold its 10th anniversary festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park later this month. Festival organizers expect to attract thousands. The only problem: they still don’t have a permit. With the festival date looming, Mayor Hales would be wise to decide on issuing a permit sooner rather than later, or else face angry hempstalkers storming City Hall. 

Short-tailed Albatross: In an effort to protect the endangered short-tailed albatross, federal fisheries managers proposed a new rule Tuesday requiring West Coast commercial fisherman to utilize lines of fluttering plastic when unrolling long lines of baited hoods on the ocean bottom. Once numbering in the millions, the short-tailed albatross is now down to around 1,200. Kudos to new policies that enhance environmental protections on the West Coast! 

Top Two Primary: The measure proposes a new general election and runoff system so that all voters can vote on any candidate regardless of political party. Surprisingly, Oregon’s third parties are divided on the measure. As GoLocal reports, supporters of the system believe the measure would result in the election of more moderate politicians, while opponents say it would limit choice and lead to a one-party-dominates-all government.

This debate is certainly heating up!



Koch brothers: It looks like the Koch brothers are saying farewell to Oregon. Freedom Partners’ Super PAC officially canceled all the TV ad time it had reserved in October to spend on the Oregon US Senate race. Freedom Partners is the Virginia-based group affiliated with oil and gas magnates Charles and David Koch. The reserved airtime was expected to total up to $1 million.

Goodbye, Koch!

Alan Olsen: Is it true, as Oregon Senate Democrats claim, that Sen. Alan Olsen (R-Canby) violated Oregon’s “undue influence” law, which prohibits candidates from offering something of

value in exchange for a campaign contribution or vote? If so, then bad move, Sen. Olsen.

The Willamette Week reports how Olsen organized a campaign fundraiser at a Canby clothing store owned by his wife. Attendees were offered a 10-percent discount on all merchandise. 

Cover Oregon: The troubled corporation formed to establish Oregon’s health insurance exchange appears to be on its last legs. Sens. Alan Olsen and Betsy Close, two Republicans both facing tight re-election battles, joined Senate President Peter Courtney in calling for the organization to be dissolved. Gov. Kitzhaber and House Speaker Tina Kotek have also called for its dissolution.  

John Kitzhaber: Last week the Department of Energy introduced an updated version of the governor’s “Cool Schools” initiative that includes funding for an additional $20 million. According to the Willamette Week, Cool Schools initially called for $100 million for energy-saving projects for school buildings, yet the state can't account for any new jobs the initiative might have created. According to Rachel Wray, press secretary for the office of the Governor, "The Oregon Department of Energy is working on a proposal that builds on the lessons learned from the pilot." Let's hope throwing in another $20 million does the trick. 

City of Portland: The job of a Portland park ranger is more complex than one might assume. On the one hand they act as security guards, ensuring the safety of our parks through conflict resolution and negotiation; on the other they act as unofficial tour guides, helping keep our parks clean and orient Portland’s many visitors. Many Portland park rangers are paid as little as $12.50 an hour, with no health insurance, paid vacation time or job security. City of Portland officials are currently undergoing an analysis of the effectiveness of the city’s rangers.

Let’s hope they realize the rangers’ full worth. 

0.9: The percent increase in job growth for Oregon, according to an ADP monthly survey. Though this survey doesn’t take into account public-sector job growth, Oregon’s unemployment rate remains just below 7 percent, well above the national average. 

[Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that Cool Schools cost $100 million.]

Gus Wendel is a writer, organizer, and musician. Originally from Eastern Oregon, he now resides in Portland.


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