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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: Bernie Sanders, Brent Barton, Patrick Sheehan

Friday, August 14, 2015


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.


Senator Bernie Sanders

The only reason Senator Bernie Sanders is in the Hot Column is because there is no Super Duper Hot Column. An estimated 28,000 people turned out to hear the Senator from Vermont speak at the Moda Center and he did not disappoint. Sen. Sanders talked for almost an hour hitting on subjects ranging from paid family leave for both men and women to universal health care to free college tuition. The crowd was electric (as this intrepid e-reporter can attest) with his speech interrupted with applause and chants of "Bernie". His campaign is picking up steam across the country and he definitely has Hilary's attention. Just this week, Mrs. Clinton came out with her own proposal for free college tuition. Hmm, I wonder where she got that idea.

His message is resonating with voters and if he is deemed a viable candidate he could end up being the Democratic Nominee. He is still very much a long shot, but at least his campaign is drawing some attention away from the 3-ring circus on the other side of the aisle.

Brad Avakian

Up to this point, the race to be the next Secretary of State has been a two person conversation involving former House Majority Leader Val Hoyle and current State Senator Richard Devlin. That could all be changing. Current Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian is seriously considering a run for the post as well. So serious that he commissioned a poll last week to test the viability waters. His entrance in the race could be a game changer. He has more name recognition than Senator Devlin and is more popular right now with the Democrats than Rep. Hoyle.

Commissioner Avakian has been very active in his current post cracking down on strip clubs who employ underage girls and businesses who discriminate against gay and transgendered people and he has worked to get technical programs implemented in high schools around the state. His activism as Labor Commissioner suggests he might have some solid reasons for wanting to be Secretary of State and not just want to use the office as a stepping stone to the governorship like it has been used by others in the past.     

Brent Barton

This week Representative Brent Barton chose family over public service. In spite of being a popular legislator coming off a successful legislative term, he announced this week that he will not seek re-election. Why? So he can devote more time to his law practice and his first child due in September. While Representative Barton makes the Hot Column for having his priorities intact, there is a bigger issue here that needs to be addressed. Why can't he have both? Why can't he devote his life to public service and still be able to provide for his family?

The answer is because the elected officials in this state don't get paid a living wage. Currently State Representatives get paid about $23,000 with a $129 per diem for when they are in session. Representatives are in session for about six months every other year and two months in the off years. Employers aren't too keen on letting their employees skip work for six months straight. That means one needs to be retired, self-employed or have another source of income to consider running for office. This dramatically limits the talent pool of the potential legislators. Until we decide to pay those who choose public service a living wage, we will continue to miss out on the Brent Barton's of this state much to our detriment.  


Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel

Background checks have been required for the sale of guns at gun shows and by licensed dealers for some time now. The new law requiring criminal background checks for private gun sales went into effect last Sunday. This is now the law throughout the state except, apparently, in Josephine County. This week Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel announced that he would not be enforcing the law due to budget restraints. Coincidentally, this new law runs counter to his personal beliefs regarding this new law and its alleged infringement on the right to bear arms. What are the odds? Evidently, Sheriff Daniel only enforces the laws he likes. So, Sheriff Daniel, for treating the laws of this state like a buffet where you can pick and choose your favorite ones, welcome to the Not Column.

Lori Stegmann

Lori Stegmann wants to replace Diane McKeel's on the Multnomah County Commission? The current Gresham City Councilor has been talking about it for over a year now. It's a good gig. She would get a nice little pay increase and a fancy new office.  So why then has she set herself up to lose? Currently Ms. Stegmann is a registered Republican. Oh my! That might fly out there in Gresham, but it won't here in the land of gluten-free beer and car sharing. This race will be difficult enough for Ms. Stegmann as her challenger, Amanda Schroeder will have the backing from the labor unions who want a labor-friendly voice on the Commission since Commissioner Judy Shiprack will be leaving as well. Do the letters NAV mean anything?

Patrick Sheehan

Former State Representative and strip club aficionado Patrick Sheehan is no longer content to sit on the sidelines. Wanting his old job back, he filed, this week, to run for House District 51. This district is currently represented by Shemia Fagan who beat Mr. Sheehan for this seat in 2012. After he lost to Ms. Fagan in 2012, he has been busy. He has made hay ranting about Cover Oregon to anyone who would listen (Looking at you, KATU), helped run a local mayoral race into the ground and he created and maintained a misleading website dedicated to putting Ms. Fagan in a bad light because, you know, that is what adults do after they lose elections. A swing district in play during a Presidential election year, just like four years ago. The last fight between these two was ugly. Very ugly. Don't be surprised if this one is more of the same. 


Related Slideshow: The Top 10 Most Politically Engaged States

A study by WalletHub ranked the 50 states based on their political engagement based on six key metrics, ranging from the percentage of registered voters in the 2012 presidential election to the total political contributions per adult population. Oregon ranks number 10. See which other states made the list. 

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