Tuesday, May 16, 2006

[Election Day]

Some Interesting Things About Today's Oregon Primary.

This is the final day in Oregon's primary--I say "final" day because we have vote-by-mail here, and every registered voter with a permanent residence (sorry indigent--your vote depends on an address!) has had a ballot for three weeks. Lollygaggers like me--and about 50% of voters--will hand-deliver our ballots tonight. But I digress. For those of you who live somewhere east of the Pacific Coast, Oregon's wee exercise may hold little interest, though there are three reasons you may like to keep your eye on CNN tonight.

2nd Congressional District
Despite what you may have heard on the West Wing, the district encompassing all of Eastern and part of Southern Oregon is not the Fourth CD, and as far as I know, Will Bailey's not on the ballot. There are four Democrats, however, who have promised to make this an interesting election. They vie today for the shot at Greg Walden, the last elephant in the state's House delegation, and a guy who has waltzed more or less unchallenged to re-election for several cycles. This is a "safe" Republican seat in all the prognostications, but if the winner of tonight's election gets some momentum, it may be a race that spells trouble for national Republicans. (My plug is for Chuck Butcher, and not just because he reads this blog. He's a good guy and I think his values would well-represent Eastern Oregon and its rural, hard-working population. Sorry, Chuck, they don't let Kremlinians vote in the 2nd CD.)

There's a real barn-burner in the Governor's race, which sadly few are following. As I write this, there are literally five candidates with credible hopes of becoming governor in 2007--though some are more credible. The moderate incumbent Dem, Ted Kulongoski, was challenged by a progressive and another moderate. The progressive's dead, but the moderate, Jim Hill, has a long shot. On the Republican side, a very ugly race will result in either the selection of Kevin Mannix, whose entire campaign has been funded by a very strange Nevadan, or Ron Saxton, a moderate whose running to the right of Mussolini in the primary. That one's neck and neck, but Saxton looks to be the man. Finally, a moderate independent who is a former Republican but who is running a liberal campaign, promises to be a major player in November. Whether he can win is still a question, but he will definitely decide the election one way or another.

Voter Owned Elections
The last bit of interest is the debut of a public-financing system for city-wide elections in Portland. The way it works is if you can get a certain number of people to write you a five dollar check (varying by race), the city gives you a pot of public cash. The system was marred slightly by a first-timer who apparently received checks from an immigrant community who didn't understand what they were donating to. On the other hand, a very credible neighborhood activist, Amanda Fritz, has used the system to challenge incumbent Dan Saltzman, and the race is too close to call.

The system is getting fine-tuned, but it has already dramatically reduced the amount of money in city elections.

Happy voting--

[Update: A few sites are covering the election in more detail: Loaded Orygun and BlueOregon already have some chatter going, and will have fairly regularly-updated news and related info.]

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