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

Friday, October 10, 2014



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.


Joe Biden: During a campaign rally at the Oregon Convention Center for U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, Vice President Joe Biden gave a rousing speech in which he delivered one big message: the middle class is missing out, and it will cost us our future. He also echoed Merkley’s calls for raising the minimum wage and defending women’s rights. Biden also hosted a private fundraiser supporting Merkley’s campaign.  

Battle for Oregon Senate: Oregon is about to see the most expensive state Senate battle in the state’s history. As GoLocal reports, Republicans are vying to control the chamber by winning five contested races. They’ve poured $1.2 million dollars into those races, and Democrats have responded with $4.4 million of their own.

Jim Moore, political science professor at Pacific University, stressed the importance of the Senate races when he told GoLocal “It’s important that people realize the state legislatures have by far the biggest impact on peoples' lives. Way more than Congress. Way more than the president.”

Marijuana Legalization: Efforts to legalize the sale and taxation of marijuana in Oregon received a boost when a Sunday New York Times editorial endorsed Oregon’s Ballot Measure 91. As GoLocal reports, the editorial, which has endorsed all the marijuana legalization initiatives in the nation, said: “Decades of arresting people for buying, selling and using marijuana have hurt more than helped society, and minority communities have been disproportionately affected by the harsh criminal penalties of prohibition.” 

SEIU: Filings with the Secretary of State show the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is making its presence known in Oregon state legislative races. Oregon’s largest union, SEIU has reported more than $300,000 for legislative races through its affiliated political fund, Citizens Action for Public Education. The union also gave $75,000 to the governor’s re-election campaign. 

Oregon’s Stripper Lobby: When the 2015 legislative session begins this February, some lawmakers may be surprised by a new coalition of lobbyists, social workers, and strip-club dancers. As The Daily Beast reports, Oregon strip club dancers are working together with the National Association of Social Workers to draft a new set of industry regulations to bring to the state legislature.

“I am pleased that the National Association of Social Workers is bringing up the important issue of workplace protections for exotic dancers,” State Rep. Margaret Doherty, who chairs the House Business and Labor Committee, told The Daily Beast. “Everyone deserves safety and fairness in their workplace.”


Governor Kitzhaber: Oregon's Governor is having a rocky week, following revelations about his fiance Cylvia Hayes. Though comfortably ahead of his opponent Dennis Richardson in the polls, it remains to be seen how the bombshells dropped yesterday will play out in terms of his re-election. 

Merkley/Wehby: Neither of the US Senate candidates can seem to commit to debates. As GoLocal reports, Democratic candidate Sen. Jeff Merkley said Thursday he declined to partake in a KGW debate. Last Friday, Republican candidate Monica Wehby declined a KGW/Oregonian televised debate. Moreover, Wehby was a no-show at a scheduled interview with the Willamette Week (all of her opponents showed up).

NRA: The National Rifle Association (NRA) appears to be declining in influence, at least in the Northwest. As GoLocal reports, Washingtonians are slated to vote on a 1-594, a ballot initiative that would close the background check loophole. The NRA has largely been silent. Here in Oregon, meanwhile, gun-safety advocacy groups such as “Everytown for Gun Safety” have spent significantly on contested races in Oregon, including $56,000 for Gov. John Kitzhaber. 

Cylvia Hayes: Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes has been asked a lot of questions lately: the first series of questions raised concern about whether or not Hayes has benefited personally from her role as first lady. Just yesterday, the Willamette Week wanted to know whether or not Hayes had been married in 1997 to an 18-year-old Ethiopian immigrant. The answer to this second question turned out to be yes.

Readers will undoubtedly be interested in whether or not this reporting has any impact on Gov. Kitzhaber’s re-election ambitions. 

Bill Post: The Republican candidate for Oregon House District 25 doesn’t appear too popular with many of his fellow Republicans. According to reports, several prominent Republicans, including Rep. Jim Thompson (R-Dallas), have stated their dislike of Post. “I find Post combative, and I don’t think that’s what the Legislature needs,” Thompson told Willamette Week. Post, a radio talk-show host along the lines of Rush Limbaugh, has at least found a few followers who identify with his evangelical Christian, pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax, anti-government, and anti-same-sex marriage views.  

Pineapple Express: The Oregonian reports that a strong jet stream could hit Oregon as early as this weekend. Commonly called “the Pineapple Express,” the jet stream is accumulating moisture from a typhoon in the western Pacific Ocean, essentially creating an “atmospheric river.”

Apparently the Pineapple Express is infamous for causing the worst floods, landslides and mudslides in the Pacific Northwest. In 1996 alone, massive flooding caused by a Pineapple Express led to damages of up to $100 million. 

State Manager Overhaul: The Oregon Department of Administrative Services (DAS) will review all manager positions in state government, with the goal of redefining position roles and pay scales. DAS Director Michael Jordan told the Statesman Journal that the goal is to make sure the salary for every type of job is “in market,” meaning the pay is within 95 to 105 percent of the median for the “market” for that job.

As Hannah Hoffman reports, the difficulty lies in defining what the “market” is. 

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

Banner Photo Credit: iStock 


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