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

Friday, November 07, 2014


Photo credit: iStock

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.


Oregon Dems: State democrats swept the senate and house on Tuesday, setting the stage for a potentially ambitious progressive agenda this legislative cycle. Concentrating on a few key Senate races, Republicans had hoped to retake control of the chamber for the first time since 2003. Those hopes were swiftly washed away on Tuesday by a new Democratic majority of 17-12, with one race still too close to call. A 2015 legislative agenda focused on environmental and income-inequality issues is likely.

Kitz n Merk: The two high-profile democratic candidates for office in Oregon celebrated easily on Tuesday, especially Sen. Jeff Merkley, who defeated challenger Monica Wehby nearly 2-to-1. Gov. Kitzhaber on the other hand, appears to have defeated Richardson by less than 70,000 votes, a margin which, while narrow, might still be wide enough to surprise those who predicted the Cylvia Hayes scandal would doom Kitz’s chances. 

National Repubs: While Oregon Democrats acquired majorities in the state legislature, national Republicans handily took over the U.S. Senate for the first time since 2006. While you wouldn’t know it in Oregon, voter dissatisfaction with the national economy and anger toward the president are cited as key reasons for Republicans’ overwhelming victories, in which Democrats lost seats in North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, West Virginia, Arkansas, Montana and South Dakota. 

Marijuana: Roughly 54 percent of Oregonians said yes to Measure 91, which, by far the biggest winner among the ballot measures, brought legalized recreational use of marijuana to Oregon. Now that it’s legal, many are wondering about the specificities of the drug’s use. GoLocal breaks down what you need to know, now that Marijuana is legal

$15 Minimum Wage: Multnomah County leaders agreed yesterday to raise the minimum wage of its lowest-paid workers to $15 an hour. Of the preliminary agreement, Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury said in a statement “Our talented and hard working staff who do important work deserve to be paid a living wage. I'm proud that we have a strong working relationship with the people on the front lines who are the brains and heart of the work we do every day.”


Money in Oregon Politics: Secret to none, this election cycle was the most expensive in Oregon’s history. What’s often more elusive are the names of those who make the cash flow. Just a week before the election, the nonprofit HackOregon launched a website Behind the Curtain Project, which seeks to “lift the veil” of campaign contributions in Oregon. Click here to see who is behind the scenes of Oregon’s campaign financing.

Obama: The route of U.S. Senate democrats on Tuesday can be interpreted as a referendum on the president’s leadership and policies these past couple of years. With the president’s approval rating at an all-time low, most Democratic candidates took measures to distance themselves from Obama as much as possible. Despite his unpopularity, the president has made clear he intends to end his presidency with resolve. “My job over the next couple of years is to do some practical, concrete things as much as possible with Congress,” the president said at an hour-long news conference on Wednesday. “If it’s not possible with Congress, on my own.”

92, 88, 86: Thee of the highly anticipated and hotly debated ballot measures that went down this election cycle. 92, which would have required labeling of GMOs, was the closest race this election, as well as the most expensive in Oregon history. Turns out Oregon, like Washington and California in previous elections, succumbed to the will of out-of-state-cash. Measures 88 and 86 were more soundly defeated: 86, which was championed by Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler and would have allowed the state to borrow money for a college financial aid fund, went down nearly 3-to-2. 88, whose advocates succeeded in building one of the broadest and most diverse coalitions the state has ever seen, went down by similar margins.  

Measure 90: The one ballot measure that lacked a majority in every single Oregon county, Measure 90 would have done away with partisan primaries. This was also the only issue that didn’t appear to fall along the usual party divide, as well as the urban-rural split that so often characterizes Oregon elections. 

City Hall: Portlanders don’t seem too pleased with city’s halls job performance lately. As Willamette Week reports, City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade recently released the annual survey indicating how citizens feel about the direction of the city. Only 22 percent expressed feeling good about opportunities to influence city hall, and just 46 percent felt the city was doing a good job of providing services. 

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


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