BREAKING: Kitzhaber IN!: Oregon’s Healthcare Governor Runs Again

After months of speculation and predictions, it appears, according to multiple sources, that former Governor John Kitzhaber (D), creator of the Oregon Health Plan, will run for a third-term as Oregon governor in 2010 (The Constitution bars anyone from running for more than two CONSECUTIVE terms, legendary governor Tom McCall (R) tried to run for a third-term in a similar fashion but lost the 1978 Republican primary to future Governor Vic Atiyeh (the last Republican to hold the office).

Needless to say, this announcement has fundamentally changed the race for Oregon governor and instantly upped the ante.  My analysis is below.

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun:…

One of several sources reporting Kitzhaber will join the race is Oregon’s top political reporter Jeff Mapes in this blog post: Kitzhaber nears gubernatorial announcement.


Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber appears poised to jump into the governor’s race.

The former two-term Democratic governor made several calls to top elected officials in Oregon on Monday and word swept through the state’s political community Tuesday that Kitzhaber planned to file paperwork launching his campaign within the next few hours.

The following post will briefly describe Kitzhaber’s record and analyze the impact his entry will have on the race.

Who is John Kitzhaber?

John Albert Kitzhaber is a 62-year old former emergency physician originally from Colfax, WA, although he grew up in Eugene and practiced in Roseburg (southern OR for those that don’t know).

In 1979 he ran and was elected to the Oregon House, serving one term before becoming an Oregon State Senator in 1981 and Senate President from 1985 to 1993.  In 1994, Kitzhaber was one of few Democrats nationwide who avoided the GOP tide as he narrowly won a first term as governor but was easily reelected four years later in 1998.  Upon leaving office in 2002, Kitzhaber worked on health care, founding the  Archimedes Movement in 2006 to help organize his health care reform efforts.

Kitzhaber is certainly best known as the creator of the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s medicaid plan made famous for its then-innovative approach to health care, based on the idea of prioritizing treatment so that the most critical treatments were funded first.  Although changed significantly since its creation in the early 1990s, this “prioritized procedures list” remains a key part of the plan to this day.

Kitzhaber’s other main accomplishment is the Oregon Salmon Plan, the hallmark of his second term, which successfully managed to maintain and in many cases increase salmon populations that were at the time collapsing.  Combined with his staunch refusal to sign any bills forwarded by the then-Republican controlled legislature that weakened the state’s environmental and land use policies, as well anything else (earning him the nickname “Dr. No” from critics), Kitzhaber became known as an environmental champion.

Impact on the Race:

Kitzhaber’s entry has profound impact on the race.  Here is how I would now rate it, assuming the announced candidates run on both sides.

Democratic Primary:

Main Candidates: Kitzhaber, Former SOS Bill Bradury, State Rep. Brian Clem (Salem).

Analysis: Kitzhaber should easily beat both these candidates.  Nothing against either of these fine public servants, whom I respect and may actually vote for but Kitzhaber is just way too well known and respected to lose the primary.

Rating: Leans/Likely Kitzhaber.

Republican Primary

Main Candidates: Former Pixelworks CEO Alan Alley, State Senator Jason Atkinson (Central Point, which is in Southern OR).

Analysis: Atkinson should win this race but it will be close.  Alley probably needs one more conservative candidate to jump in to split Atkinson’s support so that he can do what Ron Saxton did in 2006 and squeak through.  None has emerged as of yet.

Rating: Leans Atkinson.

General Election:

Assuming Kitzhaber (D) v. Atkinson (R).

Analysis: Jason Atkinson is another Republican who looks nice but is not the greatest politician in the world.  He is also WAY too conservative for many Oregon voters.  Given that Kitzhaber is not a “Portland candidate” (and trust me this matters), I don’t think Atkinson will be able to pull it out.  Still, it could be close so I’ll rate it that way for now.

Rating: Leans Kitzhaber.

Let me know what you think.

Oregon at 150: Celebrating Oregon’s Progressive Heritage

Oregon will celebrate its 150th anniversary of achieving statehood on Valentine’s Day this Saturday.  In honor of my beloved state’s 150th birthday, I present this short piece highlighting some of the achievements of the state’s progressive movement.  As our state motto says, “She Flies With Her Own Wings.”

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun:…

The National Journal wrote in 2006 that, “Oregon is an experimental commonwealth and laboratory of reform on the Pacific Rim, a maker of national trends.”  Oregon 2006 State Profile.  Whether is the initiative system, public beaches, the bottle bill, assisted suicide or the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon has always taken pride in leading its own way.  This diary briefly discusses some key moments in Oregon’s political history.

1859: Oregon becomes the 33rd state.  Oregon became a state by agreeing not to allow African Americans to own property in its original constitution.  This provision was repealed in 1926.

1897: In what would prove to be perhaps the most important session in the state’s legislative history, the state legislature refuses to meet over a dispute on whom would be one of the state’s US Senators.  In order to broker a compromise, William Simon U’Ren, a leader of one of the factions in the state legislature at the time, agrees to accept the opposition’s Senator in exchange for the legislature’s support of the Initiative and Referendum system.

1902: The Initiative and Referendum System goes into effect in Oregon.  In its early years it did the following: Banning free railroad passes, popular elections of U.S. Senators, establishing the first presidential primary in the United States, giving women the right to vote, eliminating poll taxes and establishing a 40 hour work week.

1913: Governor Oswald West declares that the state’s beaches are public property.  Today, this means that access points must be provided at regular points along the beach and that, in fact, the state’s beach is a public highway.

1924: Following the overturning of the “Compuolsory School Act” (a reform pushed by the KKK which required all students to go to public schools and not religious ones), the KKK largely leaves the state and moves to Idaho.

1949: Oregon establishes the fair labor practices commission, helping protect worker’s rights.

1971: Oregon establishes the nation’s first bottle bill, providing for a $.05 deposit on soft drinks (now extended to water bottles and all carbonated drinks).

1972: Oregon passes Senate Bill 100, establishing Oregon’s land use system.  The system is predicated on the basic principle of limiting sprawl and thus preserving farmland.  In brief, each city (or in the case of Portland and Eugene the full urban area) draws an “Urban Growth Boundary” outside their cities beyond which only limited development may occur.  This has been wildly successful by most estimations.

1973: Oregon passes Public Records and Public Meetings laws, establishing some of the most open government systems in the country.

1986: Portland’s light-rail system (MAX) begins service.

1987: The Oregon Health Plan begins to be implemented, providing a trial of free comprehensive health care under Medicaid.

1993: Oregon holds the first statewide vote by mail election in the country.  Mandatory vote by mail was approved by initiative in 1998.

1994: Oregon establishes Doctor Assisted Suicide by initiative, becoming the first state to do so (followed recently by Washington).

2007: Oregon passes domestic partnership and equal protection laws granting GLBT couples the rights to equal benefits to marriage and full protection under the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

That’s a good brief summary.  Discuss below.

The Dying GOP: Oregon Conservative Magazine Closes

In the latest example of the dying GOP, at least out here in Oregon, Brainstorm NW, the leading magazine of the conservative movement in the state, is closing its doors.  Its February issue will be the last it ever publishes.

Major H/T to Steve Duin of the Oregonian for this story: Brainstorm is Toast

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun:…

In its 12-year history, Brainstorm NW was the voice of the fiscally conservative but not socially conservative aspects of the OR GOP (which given that they published Lars Larson tells you how crazy the mainstream GOP is).  Describing themselves as the “magazine for Northwest decision makers”, it proved to be nothing of the sort.  At the present time it had 12,000 subscribers and enjoyed a regular print run of about 25,000.  While it is sad to see well-meaning people fail in such an endeavor and for a, relatively, centrist publication to die, it is a sign of the fact that the OR GOP has moved quite far to the right.

Their final editorial (copied from Steve Duin’s blog, linked above), says in part:

For the past 12 years, BrainstormNW has published in Oregon and been read by thousands of well-educated, active, thoughtful citizens. We, of course, are a niche magazine, not a newspaper. Did we have a message, a slant, like the Aurora of 1798? Yes. For 12 years we have sounded the alarm that Oregon’s business climate was rapidly cooling. We have made the case that our planet was just as likely to be cooling and that the global warming fanatics were just that, con artists seeking power and financial gain. For 12 years we warned that ignoring the rich resources of rural Oregon was foolhardy and would lead to poverty and social decay. For 12 years we have sounded the alert that 22 years of one-party rule by Democrats would eventually corrupt. That the concentrated power, numbers and inflated pensions and benefits of public unions would undermine and finally destroy Oregon’s economy.

And now we will be silent. Like the Aurora and Porcupine’s Gazette, our time has ended. This month’s issue, February 2009, will be our last. We were the voice of many Oregonians, but we have been stilled by the failing economy we predicted for this past decade. Ironic. Sad. In this instance it has been less than gratifying to be right. But given that a pro-business publication in Oregon is a bit more of a rare hothouse orchid than an old growth Doug fir, it is not surprising that we could not weather the economic and political firestorm. Still, for our writers, editors and readers, the loss of this 12-year endeavor is painful


I should correct one obvious factual error in this editorial.  The Dems did not control the state legislature fully from 1992-2006 and did not control either chamber for a good period of time, it still speaks to a certain brand of conservative myopia.  In further proof of this, one need look no further than their piece on the bailout published in October:

Shoveling a trillion taxpayer dollars into a hole of government spending is not the answer. If infrastructure projects and handouts are the focus of Obama’s stimulus package, the money is as good as gone. Real economic recovery will only come from small business stimulus. And no doubt it’s time for thinking outside the box that goes well beyond standard direct payments or traditional tax cuts – though these too may play a role.


So goodbye Brainstorm NW, and may such conservative BS ideology go with you.

Ron Wyden for HHS?: Why and What it Means

The Oregonian is reporting that Senator Ron Wyden (D) is a candidate to be the next HHS Secretary.  I’ll discuss the rumors, who Wyden is and what this would mean for the US Senate if he were to be nominated.

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun:…

Link to the story: Wyden gains traction as possible health secretary

Key Quote:

   Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is emerging as a potential candidate to become health and human services secretary after former Sen. Tom Daschle abruptly withdrew because of controversy over unpaid taxes.

   Wyden’s name is one of several prominently mentioned in Washington, D.C., health-policy circles and in news stories and blogs. Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s name also surfaced, but several Washington health care observers said they doubt he would receive serious consideration.

So who is Ron Wyden?:

Birth Date: 05/03/1949

Birthplace: Wichita, KS

Home City: Portland, OR

Religion: Jewish

Party: Democratic.

Elective History:

Representative, United States House of Representatives, District 3, 1980-1996, defeating an incumbent in the seat now held by Earl Blumenauer.

Senator, United States Senate, 1996-present, winning a special election over former Senator Gordon Smith to replace the disgraced Senator Bob Packwood (R).  He has not been challenged since.

Wyden’s Healthy Americans Plan:

Quoting from Slate:


   Under Wyden’s plan, employers would no longer provide health coverage, as they have since World War II. Instead, they’d convert the current cost of coverage into additional salary for employees. Individuals would use this money to buy insurance, which they would be required to have.

   Private insurance plans would compete on features and price but would have to offer benefits at least equivalent to the Blue Cross “standard” option. Signing up for insurance would be as easy as ticking off a box on your tax return. In most cases, insurance premiums would be withheld from paychecks, as they are now.

   Eliminating employers as an additional payer would encourage consumers to use health care more efficiently. Getting rid of the employer tax deduction, which costs a whopping $200 billion a year, would free up funds to subsidize insurance up to 400 percent of the poverty line, which is $82,000 for a family of four.

   The Lewin Group, an independent consulting firm, has estimated that Wyden’s plan would reduce overall national spending on health care by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years and that it would save the government money through great administrative efficiency and competition.

Replacing Wyden:

Under Oregon law, a special election would be held to replace Wyden within 91 days (the law says “soon as practicable so it may be backed up to the May Primary”).  Here is how I think it would stack up:

Republican Possibles:

Former Senator Gordon Smith would be by far the strongest possible candidate.

Rep. Greg Walden would be a likely choice but would be quite weak.

Allen Alley, who lost in his run for treasurer, would also be possible.

Democratic Possibles:

US Rep. Earl Blumeanuer would be a very strong pick and would certainly be favored statewide.

US Rep. Peter DeFazio would also be a very strong choice for us and would likely clear the field as well.

Losing Senate candidate Steve Novick would be a strong third possibility.

Overall I think we would clearly have the edge in any special election.

Let me know what you think.

She Flies With Her Own Wings: Oregon’s Legislative Leaders

Today marks the first day of the 75th Legislative Assembly (the state celebrates its 150th birthday on Valentine’s Day) and so I thought it would be appropriate to preview the leadership on both sides of the aisle in the Oregon Legislature.  

FYI, “She flies with her own wings” is the official motto of the state of Oregon and so I thought it would be an appropriate title for this post.

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun:…

Oregon State:


Senate President-Peter Courtney (D)

District: 11-Salem.

First Elected to Senate: 1998.

First Elected President: 2003.

Birth Date: 06/18/1943

Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA

Summary: Peter Courtney is a dedicated progressive who has a long history of public service.  Elected to the state legislature for the first time in 1988, Courtney is regarded as a consensus-builder.  He was first elected to President in 2003 when the Senate was split 15-15.  In his prior life, he worked as a TV political commentator.

Caucus Leaders:

Majority Leader-Richard Devlin (D)

District: 19-Tualatin.

First Elected to Senate: 2002.

First Elected Party Leader: 2007.

Birth Date: 09/09/1952

Birthplace: Eugene, OR

Summary: Richard Devlin is renowned for his work in a number of areas, most notably child safety.  During the last legislative session he passed bills improving the state’s booster seat law as well as one banning the use of dangerous metal halide lights in public buildings, most notably public schools.  Prior to joining the legislature as a representative in 1996, he was a legal investigator for adult and juvenile corrections.

Minority Leader-Ted Ferrioli (R)

District: 30-John Day.

First Elected to Senate: 1996.

First Elected Party Leader: 2002.

Birth Date: 02/15/1951

Birthplace: Spokane, WA

Summary: One thing you can say about Ted Ferrioli is that at least he does not hide whom he is, an unapologetic advocate for timber interests in the state.  He believes that his most important recent work is that related to ensuring timber payments for rural OR (a very important issue that was a bipartisan push against the Bush administration) and is a strong advocate for lower taxes and less government.  He owns a small timber company and in 1986 formed Community Relations Associates to advocate for timber interests.

Oregon House:


Speaker-Dave Hunt (D)

District: 40-Oregon City

First Elected to House: 2002.

First Elected Speaker: 2009.

Birth Date: 11/10/1967

Birthplace: Port Angeles, WA

Summary: Dave Hunt has long been a leader for progressive causes in Oregon, particularly those related to education, transportation and the environment.  His proudest legislative accomplishment last session was helping to create Oregon’s rainy day fund.  He also helped pass Connect Oregon III last session, which funded a variety of transportation projects related to rail, road, air and sea in order to improve passenger and freight mobility.  Outside of his work in the legislature, Hunt chairs the Columbia River Channel Commission and is an active member in his church.

Caucus Leaders:

Majority Leader-Mary Nolan (D)

District: 36-SW Portland

First Elected to House: 2000.

First Elected Party Leader: 2009.

Birth Date: 1954

Birthplace: Chicago, IL

Note: I worked for Rep. Nolan as a Legislative Assistant during the 2005 session.

Summary: Mary Nolan is without a doubt one of the most intelligent members of the Oregon Legislature.  A true progressive, Nolan has led the fight on a number of issues from abortion rights to GLBT rights to funding for education.  Nolan was the co-chair of the Ways and Means Committee (the state’s budget committee) in the 2007 session and is a leader for responsible for effective government.  Nolan is the former director of the City of Portland’s Environmental Services Department and currently owns and operates a number of businesses with her husband Mark Gardiner.

Minority Leader-Bruce Hanna (R)

District: 7-Roseburg

First Elected to House: 2004.

First Elected Party Leader: 2007.

Birth Date: 1960

Birthplace: Roseburg, OR

Summary: Bruce Hanna is your classic rural Oregon Republican, constantly fighting against measures which specifically benefit the city of Portland (which many rural Republicans consider evil).  For example, in a press statement released late in the 2007 session, Hanna cited funding for Portland Streetcars and the Portland-Milwaukee MAX (Light Rail) line as examples of “wasteful spending”.  His major issues include tax reduction and state police funding.  Hanna runs Automatic Vending Services and is the regional director for Coca-Cola in Southern OR.

Let me know what you think.

Sizemore Update: He’s Still in Jail!

The following is an update of yesterday’s diary about Bill Sizemore’s arrest for contempt of court (his fourth such citation and the first time he’s been arrested for it).  It contains some more details on why Sizemore was arrested and what comes next.

My Previous Diary is here: OR Conservative Activist Bill Sizemore Gets Jailed!

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun:…

Bill Sizemore currently languishes in jail due to his fourth contempt of court citation in the past few years.  As Judge Wilson said in court on Monday, “Mr. Sizemore is so blinded by his hatred of the unions who are plaintiffs in this case that he seems to have concluded that he is not required to follow the law.”  Perhaps the best quote though, comes from Kevin Looper, head of Defend Oregon, the organization which successfully defeated all of Sizemore’s measures last fall, who told the press “We’ve got John Gotti here pretending he’s Nelson Mandela.”

For those of you who wish to learn more about Sizemore, either view my previous diary yesterday (linked above) or this video from an interview he gave ABC News this fall:

What’s Next?

Sizemore has quite the conundrum ahead of him.  As I understand it the contempt citation states that Sizemore will remain jailed until he files  both the state and federal tax returns for the American Taxpayers Researchers Foundation (ARTF) for the years 2006 and 2007.  Sizemore controls ARTF and it is the contention of the plaintiffs (the teacher’s unions) that this is merely an attempt by Sizemore to go around the injunction against political activity filed as a result of his loss in the 2003 racketeering lawsuit.  The injunction has five main components:

1. It bars any Sizemore-controlled organization from giving anything of value, be it money or support, to a political action committee for five years (which just expired earlier this year I believe).

2. It bars any Sizemore-controlled political action committee from receiving anything of value from a 501c(3) organization for five years.

3. It bars any Sizemore-controlled charitable organization or political action committee from transferring assets until the plaintiffs are paid their $2.5M judgment.

4. It bars any Sizemore-controlled charitable organization or political action committee from doing business with any Sizemore-controlled signature gathering firm for five years.

5. It requires any Sizemore-controlled organization to comply with federal or state election reporting laws as appropriate for five years.  This provision might seem logical because everyone should follow the law but it appears to raise the stakes if Sizemore violates the laws again.

So Sizemore now has an unenviable choice of whether to not file the forms and therefore violate the law or to file them and disclose the extent to which he has expended moneys from these organizations for his own personal benefit.  This would then expose him to potential civil liability (and maybe criminal as well but as a non-lawyer I don’t know if what he’s doing is a crime) both as a result of this suit and from the penalties the IRS and Oregon Department of Revenue might well levy against him for violating federal and state prohibitions against expending nonprofit funds for personal gain.

Key Links:

For the only known shot of Sizemore being led away go here: http://blogtown.portlandmercur…

For Sizemore’s mug shot and current prison status go here for the official sheriff’s information:…

For the Court’s order go here:…

Let me know what you think.

OR Conservative Activist Bill Sizemore Gets Jailed!

In what can only be described as something that is a long time coming, longtime Oregon conservative activist (and complete A-hole) Bill Sizemore was jailed today after being found in contempt of court for the fourth time.  The specific incident this time was Sizemore’s failure to file federal and state reporting forms required for organizations he controls to maintain their tax exempt status.

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun:…

This story stems from this article: Bill Sizemore jailed for contempt of court

Key Quote:

The dramatic moment just after Wilson finished a more than two-hour recitation of her findings in the case. Two Multnomah County deputies who had been in the back of the courtroom approached Sizemore, who was sitting at a table facing the judge, handcuffed his hands behind his back and led him from the courtroom.

This was in response to a lawsuit filed by Sizemore’s longstanding enemies, and one of, if not the, most powerful unions in the state, the Oregon Education Association among at least one other teacher’s union.

Sizemore has honestly had this a long time coming.  Below is a brief history of Sizemore’s OR political activity.

1990-Don McIntyre (one of Sizemore’s precursors) proposes and helps pass Measure 5 (Similar to the infamous Prop 13 in CA), sharply limiting property taxes and hindering state government ever since.

1994-Sizemore passes Measure 8, later overturned, which would have required public employees to pay part of their salaries.

1996-Sizemore passes Measure 47, a follow-up to Measure 5, which later requires the legislature to propose and pass Measure 50 as Measure 47 proves to be constitutionally unworkable.

1998-Sizemore wins the Republican nomination for OR Governor and loses badly to incumbent John Kitzhaber (D).

2000-The Oregon Education Association and AFT-Oregon file a racketeering lawsuit against Sizemore.  The accusations center around submission of false or fraudulent signatures and submission of false tax reports to hide Sizemore’s use of political campaign funds for his personal expenses.  In 2002 a jury found against Sizemore in the amount of $2.5M, which has had yet to pay a dime of.

2002-Oregon voters pass Measure 26, banning payment per signature for initiative petitions, a measure directly aimed to stop the sort of about perpetrated by Sizemore.  Opponents have tried via the courts, thankfully unsuccessfully, to overturn it repeatedly.

2003-The court orders dissolution of Sizemore’s Oregon Taxpayers Union-Education Fund for the violations described above.

2004, 2006 and 2008-Sizemore proposes a series of initiatives, all of which fail.

2008-Oregon voters pass Measure 56, overturning the “double majority” requirement at the center of Sizemore’s Measure 5/47/50 victories in the 1990s but leaving the property tax limitations themselves intact.

Most recently this story came out, which I previously reported on and so will repeat my thoughts from then:

Sizemore admits to personal use of funds

Story here: Oregon anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore admits personal use of funds

Anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore is known for many things, such as running a series of insane ballot measures every two years.  However, one thing he would prefer not to be remembered for is his mis-use of funds donated to nonprofit organizations under his control, which partially led to a judgment against him several years back for racketeering.  Under the terms of an injunction resulting from that lawsuit, such usage of funds was not allowed.  Despite this, it was revealed that Sizemore “wrote checks from the foundation account for $660,326, almost all of it for his own benefit. Sizemore also charged another $88,176 to a foundation debit card at Wells Fargo.”  Included in his purchases was a car for his wife, braces for his daughter, a time-share in Mexico and my personal favorite, 15 1-ounce gold pieces.  It seems that perhaps the real reason Sizemore doesn’t like paying taxes is that the pesky government insists he follow the law.

Let me know what you think.

Hunt to be new OR Speaker, Nolan next majority leader

Just a quick post to let you know that the Oregon House Ds made the choices everyone thought they would by selecting Dave Hunt of Oregon City as the next Speaker and my former boss Rep. Mary Nolan as the new majority leader.  This means that Rep. Nolan’s job as the house chair of the Joint Ways and Means Commitee will be open, as will the Senate’s chair, previously held by Congressman-Elect Kurt Schrader.

Others elected to leadership include:

Speaker Pro-Tem: Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay)

Majority Whip: Peter Buckley (D-Ashland)

Deputy Majority Whip: Tina Kotek (D-Portland)

Assistant Majority Whip: Tobias Read (D-Beaverton)

Assistant Majority leader (policy): Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis/Philomath)

Assistant Majority Leader (political): Phil Barnhart (D-Central Lane and Linn counties)

Committee chairs and membership will be announced later this month…

Blue Tsunami in Oregon: Election Winners, Losers and Numbers

This is the diary I had hoped to be able to write Wednesday, but with the closeness of the Smith-Merkley US Senate race was happy enough to write a diary talking about the reasons why Merkley would win, as he indeed has.  This diary serves as my review of the Oregon campaign, in what can, without a doubt, be described as the best cycle for Oregon Democrats and other progressive organizations in my lifetime.  All of our goals were met and we beat back every single bad ballot measure to boot.

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun:…

The Election by the Numbers:

Note: These numbers are still not completely final due to the delay in counting ballots in some counties (which was due to the extra-long ballot necessitated by the high number of ballot measures among other factors).

Total Number of Oregonians Who Voted: 1.835 million or 84%.

Highest Turnout County by %: Wallowa-90%.

Lowest Turnout County by %: Umatilla-79%.

Number of Counties won by Kerry (who won by 5%): 8.

Number of Counties won by Obama: 12.

Obama’s Margin of Victory (which will go higher as the last urban ballots are counted): 16%.

Number of Oregon House Seats Won by the Democrats: 36 (+5).

Number of Oregon House Seats Won by the Republicans in Multnomah County: 0.

Number of Oregon House Seats Won by the Republicans in either the Eugene or Portland metro areas: 3, all in outer Portland suburbs.

Number of Ballot Measures Proposed by groups other than the legislature: 8.

Number of them that passed: 0 (All 4 of the Legislature’s measures passed).

How did I do?:

My final projections were pretty well spot on in most cases this year.  Here is my record:

Statewide and Congressional Campaigns: 100%, I correctly called every single one, although to be honest except for Smith/Merkley none were close.

Ballot Measures: 11/12 correct, I thought Measure 61 would pass but with less votes than Measure 57, and it actually failed outright.  I thought Measure 65 would be a lot closer than it was (it lost by about 2-1).

State Legislature: Senate 3/3, House 16/18.  I missed 2 house races, both of which were very close.  I projected that Adamson and Eberle would win and neither did.  Forsberg appears headed to a narrow defeat as well, which is unfortunately predicted.

Overall I think I did rather well this year as I nailed virtually every prediction and the ones I missed I didn’t miss by much.

Winners/Losers and Awards:

The final section of this diary is my favorite as I have a bit of fun with the election results and who won and lost as well as hand out some awards.

Big Winners/Losers:

Winner: Barack Obama.  Carrying the state by near-record margins, Obama led the Oregon Democrats to perhaps their best results ever.  Oh and this ad may have put Merkley over the top:

Loser: John McCain.  He never contested the state and it was apparent why.  McCain suffered perhaps the worst defeat ever for a major party candidate in the state, certainly the worst since the 1960s.

Winner: Jeff Merkley and the DSCC.  Jeff fought his way through a tough primary and won the day by unseating Republican Gordon Smith.  He did it, in no small part, thanks to the DSCC which poured more into this race than any other race in the country.

Loser: Gordon Smith, Freedom’s Watch and the NRSC.  Despite their best efforts to lie to Oregonians and mislead them into thinking Smith is a moderate, they failed this time.  At times it even seemed that the more Smith and his allies spent on negative ads, the worse they did.  This is not to say that Merkley and our side did not run negative ads because we did but theirs seemed to backfire.

Electoral Trends:

Winner: The 36 county strategy.  Although they didn’t win everywhere, Oregon Democrats surged to near record performances across the state.  They won their first state legislative seat east of the Cascades since the 1990s and basically eliminated the Republican party’s presence in Portland and Eugene.

Loser: Fake moderate Republicans.  From Gordon Smith to John Lim to Jim Torrey and beyond, Oregon Republicans who claimed to be moderates were roundly defeated by Democrats in virtually every case.  Proving that Oregonians can indeed see beyond the hype.

Interest Groups/Endorsers:

Winner: Oregon SEIU.  Perhaps the biggest winner in the state among all the unions was the Oregon SEIU as it helped ensure a majority favorable to their concerns and helped Defend Oregon defeat all the nasty ballot measures to boot.

Loser: Big Business.  The Employee Free Choice Act (Card Check Unionization) was passed in Oregon last year and despite the best efforts of big business to elect candidates who would oppose it, they failed.  Oregon is a pro-worker and pro-union state and shall remain so at least for now.

Winner: Barbara Roberts.  I so love our former Governor and honestly its hard not to.  Barbara still clearly has a lot of political power as all of the persons she endorsed and measures she took positions on went the way she hoped.

Loser: Kevin Mannix and Bill Sizemore.  They go a combined 0 for 7 in the ballot measures this year and only one of them, Measure 64, was even close.  Back to the drawing board you morans!

The Media:

Winner: Tim Hibbits.  Oregon’s top political analyst called the Senate race for Merkley Tuesday night and turned out, as usual, to be spot on.  In more than 900 races in which Hibbits has made a projection, he has been wrong exactly twice.

Loser: The Oregonian.  For endorsing Gordon Smith because Merkley’s win would give the Dems too much power.  Really, that’s a bad thing?  Well the streak continues as the Oregonian has not endorsed a winning Republican in a major race in a long time.


Biggest Surprise in a major election: Measure 65’s stunning rejection by a 2-1 margin.  I thought it would fail but that it would be very close.  I’m happy to be wrong.

Best Victory Celebration: A crowd in Portland spontaneously breaking out into singing the national anthem after finding out Obama won.

Best political ad: Obama’s ad for Merkley (see above).

Worst Political ad: The Hot Dog ad by the NRSC:

Most disgusting political ad: Merkley supports rapists by Smith’s campaign:

Best victory speech: Merkley’s victory speech in the US Senate race, which I just saw delivered at Portland State.  Waiting a few extra days for it didn’t make it any less sweeter when Sen.-elect Merkley, flanked by his wife, his mother and current Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), walked into the hall packed with lots of local supporters in a space designed for maybe 50-75 on a typical day.  Merkley spoke about the issues that matter both to Oregon and the nation and how he would be a new progressive voice for this state.

A key quote from Merkley’s speech:

Speaking at PSU’s Urban Center, Merkely said he couldn’t be “more honored” than to be serving with veteran Democrat Ron Wyden in the U.S. Senate and said that it is now “time for a problem solving, bi-partisan approach” to the many issues facing the country

Link to article about the victory: Jeff Merkley accepts his role as Oregon’s newest senator

Best-run campaign: Jeff Merkley (US Sen.).  One should not underestimate what Jeff and his team just accomplished as they unseated Gordon Smith, who many even in Democratic circles thought was untouchable.  Kudos to his staff and the army of supporters who carried the day.

Worst-run campaign: Mike Erickson (OR-5).  Not so much for how he ran the campaign as for how he reacted to all his personal scandals.  Whether it was taking his girlfriend to an abortion doctor and lying about it or taking a trip to Cuba supposedly for humanitarian reasons and instead partying the night away, Erickson in a textbook example of how NOT to run a campaign.  Yet he is utterly clueless about this and has, in fact, already been rumored to be running again in 2010.

Most-misleading campaign: Both sides of the Measure 64 campaign, the union payroll deduction.  Both sides stretched the truth more than a bit when it came to this proposed measure.  The yes folks overstated the danger of having public employee unions involved in politics while the no die claimed a far wider impact from this law than was likely (stifling the Oregon Food Bank among others supposedly).  Still, the good guys on the no side won, and I am very happy they did.  This criticism is not about their position but some of the ads they ran during this campaign.

Best-run campaign in a losing cause: Michele Eberle (OR House).  Came within inches of unseating a man with a long history in this state, Rep. Scott Brunn.  She may well win again if she runs in two years but given that this seat was not on anyone’s target list two years ago, the fact that she came this close says a lot.  Honorable mention to Jessica Adamson in Wilsonville as well.

Politician I am most happy to see lose: Gordon Smith.  After the misleading attack ads in what was without a doubt the most negative campaign in Oregon history, I really wanted to win this one.  We did, so I’m happy.

Let me know what you think.

Why Merkley has won the OR Senate Race

I was planning on posting a diary reviewing the results of Oregon’s elections but that will have to wait until tomorrow.  Due to the VERY close numbers in OR’s Senate race and the misconceptions out there, it is important that I correct some of them.  Please read this as your “chill out” diary.

As of this moment the official count shows Merkley trailing by about 8k votes with 1/3rd of the vote still out (Results at  However, most of the remaining votes are in deep blue counties like Multnomah, Lane and Benton.

To get into detail, these are the numbers we are looking at:

Multnomah County (Merkley winning 66-30) has only 47% in at this time.

Lane County (Merkley winning 58-38) has only 46% in at this time.

Benton County (Merkley winning 60-37) has only 74% in at this time.

By contrast, the largest Smith counties with votes still out are Jackson and Marion and there are both less votes there and the margins aren’t as big.  Merkley won BOTH Washington and Clackamas Counties but was offset a bit by huge margins for Smith in eastern OR (Smith won 3-1 in most of those counties where Obama did 10-15% better).

Oh and making me more sure of this result than anything else is that Tim Hibbits, Or’s preeminent political analyst, called the race for Jeff last night (

As to why this is taking so long, a few reasons:

1. It always does.  Vote by mail ballots take longer to process because they have to be verified AND counted at the county office, rather than merely counted.

2. Last minute turnout was huge.   It was 2-2.5 times what it was in 2004 and given that the first priority of elections officials is to verify ballot, counting had to wait.  That’s how we know that about 180k votes are still to be counted in Multnomah County.

3. The precinct calculation is BS.  Since we don’t have polling places, ballots are counted as they come in (although not before election day), NOT by precinct.  That is why the Oregonian shows votes still out there when no one else.  

So sit tight, calm down and know when all the votes are counted Jeff will be victorious.  Thanks to everyone for all your hard work in electing Jeff the next Senator from Oregon.