Saturday, April 24, 2010

Republicans still have numbers edge

As of March 31, the party breakdown in Deschutes County was:

Democrats: 31,118
Republicans: 34,146
Non-affiliated: 18,219
Minor parties: 5,542 - mostly Libertarian.

With those statistics, it's easy to see that the Republicans, while clearly owning a plurality, need to appeal to the independent voter to secure victory in county-wide races. They usually do this because the independent voter leans conservative in these parts.

Factor in the Tea Party movement and Deschutes County, by numbers alone, is a solid "red" county. All a candidate has to do to win, is put an "R" next to his or her name.

In Bend's House District 54, however, Democrats narrowly edge Republicans, 16,972 to 15,325. Non-affiliated voters number 9,608. It's even more paramount for the Democrats to win over independents in this district.

Bend is the only city in Deschutes County where Democrats outnumber Republicans: 16,089 to 14,281.

The Voters' Pamphlet arrived in the mail and it's always amusing to see who's running.

Five Republicans, with almost zero name recognition are running to unseat Sen. Ron Wyden. Jim Huffman, a Lewis & Clark Law School professor is actually has libertarian views and the "big tent" of the GOP welcomes those that want to destroy our government.

Safe to say, Wyden, who faces token opposition from two no-names in the primary, will be re-elected in a landslide in November.

We will be electing a new governor this year but, like California and Jerry Brown, it could likely be a former governor. Democrat John Kitzhaber served two terms before our current governor, Democrat Ted Kulongoski. A former emergency room doctor, Kitzhaber was known as "Dr. No" while governor because he always needed to block the kooky legislation passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.

If elected again, he could face at least a split legislature if Tea Party sentiment yields big gains for the GOP.

In the primary, Kitzhaber faces Bill Bradbury, a former state legislator and secretary of state for the past decade. Bradbury is a good man, but he does suffer from multiple sclerosis. His health could become an issue if he were elected.

On the Republican side, six guys are running including anti-tax, anti-government activist Bill Sizemore. He faces two others with a shot at winning the primary: Allen Alley and Chris Dudley.

Dudley? Yes, that one, the former mediocre pro basketball player who couldn't make a free throw if his life depended on it. Amazingly, Dudley, who has no experience in any governmental capacity but Republicans like him. He's been low-profile since his days as a Trail Blazer.

Alley, should win the primary and have a chance at defeating Kitzhaber. If he did, Alley would be our first Republican governor in a quarter century. Let's hope that Oregon stays "blue" again.

We do have a local Republican, Chris Telfer, running for a statewide office as state treasurer. She has no primary opposition, so she'll face either Democrats Rick Metsger or Ted Wheeler.

Telfer currently serves as state senator from the Bend area and formerly served on the Bend City Council. While on the council she served on the city's development board that spent money on downtown projects. Telfer, a downtown property owner, benefited from all the money thrown at downtown yet never recused herself from voting on these issues.

She got elected state senator because, as noted above, she had an "R" next to her name. She hasn't been a Republican her whole life, but switched affiliations because, as an accountant, she can count. So, she's really a "RINO" (Republican in name only), but since fiscal responsibility, and not gay marriage, is the Republican theme this year, she should get considerable Republican backing.

Republicans haven't won many statewide races in decades, which is shocking since Oregon was once dominated by Republicans for most of the past century. But, Republicans became obsessed with abortion and gay marriage while most Oregonians cared more about the economy and the environment. With the economy in shambles, Republicans are returning to this former bread-and-butter issue for them and have a shot this year.

I'll discuss local races and issues on future blog entries.

The primary is May 18 one day after the last property tax installment is due.

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