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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: Bernie Sanders, Charlie Hales, The Portland Spirit

Friday, August 07, 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

Senator Bernie Sanders

What says 'Man of the People' more than a free rally? Nothing, that's what. That is why the independent from Vermont is so popular right now and has been tearing up the campaign trail much to the chagrin of Hilary Clinton. While Mrs. Clinton attended a $2700/person fundraising event in the Dunthorpe Neighborhood on Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders will be hosting a free rally at the M̶e̶m̶o̶r̶i̶a̶l̶ ̶C̶o̶l̶i̶s̶e̶u̶m̶ Moda Center this Sunday. Organizers expect a sellout crowd like in every other city he has visited. That is quite a bit more than the 100 or so people that turned out for Hilary. Generating enough interest to fill up arenas is impressive by itself, but candidates who make these events free will always make the Hot Column.

Bud Pierce

Dr. Bud Pierce seems like a decent guy. He's an oncologist, the former President of the Oregon Medical Association and a former Marine.  He has, however, never held elected office. That fact is not stopping him from running for the highest office in the state. He wants to be governor. He wants to go against Kate Brown. An incumbent Democrat. Good for him. Democrats with state-wide name recognition have decided against it (see: State Treasurer Ted Wheeler) and other Republicans with a shit-ton more state-wide name recognition are likely going to be in the Republican primary race (see: Knute Buehler, Allen Alley), and yet he is undeterred.

So far the good doctor has a little more than 300k in his war chest. He has to be very popular with the voters and seen as a viable candidate, right? Not so fast. To finance his run, he has loaned himself 253k. A cool quarter million. And before you say he must have enough popular support to raise another fifty large. Again, not so fast. That other 50k came from some Salem real estate investor. But that is not the point.

The point is that even though he is a long shot, he is betting on himself. He is putting his own money where his mouth is. Dr. Pierce is dauntless. He is without daunt! And for that he deserves a spot in the Hot Column. Still, it's a shame he is going to waste all that money he worked so hard for.

Wayfinding Academy

The traditional college does not work for every student. Some students want to focus on what they are interested in and get out. Some potential students can't afford the steep tuition rates that continue to rise every year. And some don't know what they want to do with their lives or what questions to ask in order to find direction. There needs to be an alternative. There needs to be an option for those wanting a higher education but in a nontraditional setting. Enter the Wayfinding Academy. The Wayfinding Academy will be a two-year college focusing on real world experience and community involvement. Organizers are hoping to open in August 2016 with twenty-four students paying about $3,500 per term. To do this, they need your help. Learn more about what they are about and what they will do here ((http://www.wayfindingacademy.org/). And if you are so inclined to help out this very unique opportunity for the next generation of students, go here and show some love.


Portland Spirit

Do you know what it is like to look up and see a 50ft tall, 91 ton ship barreling towards you? If not, you can ask one of the boaters who gathered on the Willamette last Saturday to watch the Red Bull-sponsored Flugtag activities on the Waterfront. The Portland Spirit, determined to keep its schedule, thought it would be a great idea to plow straight through the boats that happened to be (legally) floating in the channel. The Coast Guard told the boats to move a few minutes before and they were starting to, but it takes some time to move boats when they are anchored and tied up. The bridge hadn't even been lifted yet. But that made no difference and the Portland Spirit had no interest in waiting. Time is money you know. So for putting lives in unnecessary danger, welcome, Portland Spirit, to the Not Column. One thing is clear, we need more Merrill Stubing's and fewer Joseph Hazelwood's piloting the boats that go up and down the river.

Mayor Charlie Hales

Mayor Charlie Hales

Charlie Hales is all about the environment. It has been the major focus in his term as Mayor of this City. If that term was the last two weeks.  Fresh off his meeting with The Pope, Mister Mayor got invited to the White House to talk about the environment. Wtf? All you heard out of the Mayor was street fee this and street fee that. He mentioned nada about the environment until his political consultants told him to start looking ahead to the next election. Keep in mind, this is the same guy who was all for the propane export facility, Pembina, until the opposition (and his polling) convinced him this wasn't such a great idea.

And now he publicly stated that he is against drilling for oil in the Arctic because of the actions of the Greenpeace protesters last week and he plans to share his concerns during his visit to the White House. You know what they say, one man's principled protest against the pillaging of our planet is another's opportunity to make hay for his re-election campaign.

So for latching on to the issue of climate change just in time for your re-election campaign, welcome, Mayor Hales, to the Not Column.

Cylvia Hayes

Remember her? The former First Lady of Oregon (FLO?) who worked so hard to parlay Governor Kitzhaber's public office into a private revenue stream? This week a judge ordered her to turn over her private emails for review to see which ones relate to the public's business and therefore must be disclosed. The Oregonian, spurred on by its g̶o̶a̶l̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶s̶e̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶n̶e̶w̶s̶p̶a̶p̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶a̶n̶y̶ ̶m̶e̶a̶n̶s̶ ̶n̶e̶c̶e̶s̶s̶a̶r̶y̶ indefatigable obligation to look out for the public's interest requested these emails which then led to this legal fight. Keep in mind, Governor Kate Brown already released 94,000 emails that Hayes sent from her private accounts to state employees. How many more could there be? We will all find out in 14 days, the deadline the judge set for the turnover of the emails.

This is just the first domino to fall. Ms. Hayes is still being investigated by the Oregon DOJ and the US Attorney's Office. The wheels of justice turn slow, but they do turn. This investigation could take two years and don't be surprised if it ends with her wearing an orange jump suit at Sheridan.


Related Slideshow: Oregon’s 7 New Political Power Players

Check out GoLocalPDX's list of Oregon's 7 New Political Power Players:

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1 to 5: The Power Set

1) Oregon Representative Tina Kotek (D)

The Speaker of the State House of Representatives was re-elected to represent North and NE Portland with 83 percent of the vote. She's also leader of the House Democratic Caucus, which gained a member in the election.

The University of Oregon graduate, who is also Speaker of the House, has energized a base of young voters by advocating for education reform - namely capping college tuition and fees and expanding the Oregon Opportunity Grant.

With statewide offices being vacated in 2016 and the open race for governor coming up in 2018, Kotek may not stay House Speaker for long.

To become Oregon's first openly gay governor, she'll have to expand her base beyond the young and urban voters who support her.

Portland political analyst James Moore said that for Kotek to continue her political rise into the governorship, "she's got to show she's not just a Portland city representative, and the Speaker position is a great position to show that."

While younger voters may be enthusiastic about her, "proportionally they don't vote very much," Moore said.

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1 to 5: The Power Set

2) Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D)

Ellen Rosenblum is the first female attorney general in the state's history.

She could be a strong candidate for the gubernatorial race in 2018, considering she's already won a statewide partisan election to earn her current position in 2012.

With the scandals and controversy surrounding the re-election campaign of Gov. John Kitzhaber, which included multiple accusations of ethics violations, voters may be wanting the sound judgement of a candidate with decades of experience practicing law.

Rosenblum is married to Richard Meeker, publisher of Portland newspaper Willamette Week. If elected governor, she and Meeker may be the most influential power couple to have ever lived in Mahonia Hall.

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1 to 5: The Power Set

3) Oregon Senator Peter Courtney (D)

Marion County voters once again re-elected the most tenured member of the state legislature, Rep. Peter Courtney.

Courtney, who is also an instructor at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, is a member of five legislative committees, including the capitol construction subcommittee.

Given the length of time he's held his position as a legislator, it's unlikely that Courtney aspires to higher political office but with Democrats picking up two seats in the legistlature, he now oversees a chamber with that much more power to achieve the party’s agenda. It may be the best senate he’s commanded in years. 

Republican Sen. Jeff Kruse said Republican lawmakers will be unable to stop almost all initiatives proposed by democrats, except for those pertaining to certain topics, like taxes.

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1 to 5: The Power Set

4) U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R)

Greg Walden is the only Republican representing Oregon in Congress, but is considered by some pundits to be one of the top five most powerful Republican lawmakers in the nation.

While his congressional district encompasses most of the state, Walden hasn't been especially focused on campaign issues. Instead, he's been operating the Republican Congressional Leadership Committee, an organization tasked with increasing the number of Republicans elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

With the Republicans taking a staggering 246 seats in the U.S. House this election, he’s sure to get a slap on the back and perhaps a promotion.

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1 to 5: The Power Set

5) Oregon Representative Susan McClain (D)

Voters elected McClain to serve on the Metro Council for four consecutive terms before electing her to represent Oregon's 3rd district in the state House of Representatives.

McClain, a schoolteacher from Hillsboro, ran her campaign on education reforms and environmental protection, and may play a significant role in legislation that would establish a sustainable source of funding to support the state's colleges and universities.

With proven electability, it's anyone's guess where McClain's political career may take her.

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The WIld Cards

6) City Club of Portland Executive Director Sam Adams (D)

Although Adams isn't technically running for anything (yet), he has been politically active with the City Club of Portland - a think tank focused on public policy.

Since leaving office, the former mayor of Portland has been busy taking the helm as the organization's technical director - increasing members by approximately 50 percent in two years.

With the name recognition and political clout to make a comeback to public office, many are looking to Adams to make a bid in 2018.

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The Wild Cards

7) Secretary of State Kate Brown (D)

As Secretary of State, Brown passed a series of reforms — like streamlining how a measure is put on a ballot  — that earned Oregon top marks in elections transparency from the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. She also implemented online voter registration.

The most dynamic thing about Brown, however, is her political position now: she acts as a de-facto lieutenant governor, while at the same time benefiting from being outside the Governor’s office itself. Although Oregon doesn't have a lieutenant governor, under state law Brown would step in should the governor be unable to perform his duties of office. 

With ethics probes against Kitzhaber and several investigations into Cover Oregon set to begin, we'll see what happens.


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