Wednesday, March 7, 2012

GOP dust-up in Bend

Yesterday's filing deadline for political office produced one big surprise in Bend: A sitting Republican is facing a hostile primary opponent in her re-election bid for the Oregon Senate.

The story in today's paper shed no light on why Tim Knopp would seek to run for Chris Telfer's 27th District seat.

Knopp, who served in the state House earlier this century when the Republicans had a slim  majority, claimed the usual stuff like he wants to create more jobs and "reform" the Public Employee Retirement System known as PERS.

But this is just a smoke-screen.

Knopp represents the social-conservative wing of the Oregon GOP which has led state Republicans to long-term subordinate status after more than a century of being the dominant party in the state.

Republicans are so marginalized statewide that they didn't even bother to enter races for state Attorney General or Treasurer this year. Telfer lost the Treasurer race in 2010. In the Secretary of State race, though, Republicans will be represented by Bend surgeon Knute Buehler, who considers voter fraud the most pressing issue. Obviously, he gets his cue from Fox News, which has no relation to reality, particularly here in Oregon. Hope he loses big.

Telfer, a former Bend city councilor, is considered a RINO (Republican in Name Only) by the Knopp faction. She is a moderate on social issues, which irks people like Knopp.

Knopp told The Oregonian: "Republicans are looking for conservative candidates now, from the presidential level on down and I want to give them a chance to vote for a true conservative in Central Oregon."

But, her most glaring offense to Knopp, and other diehard extremists in Bend who urged him to run against Telfer, is that she not only talked to Democrats in Salem, but actually worked with them to pass legislation, particularly on redistricting.

For the GOP wingnuts here and nationwide, any Republican who works with Democrats is a traitor to the party and is no longer fit to represent the party anywhere. Wingnuts consider Democrats as the equivalent to Islamic terrorists or Communist Chinese or both.

(As a side note: It was brilliant that Oregon's Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat who truly believes in bipartisanship, got Rep. Paul Ryan to work with him to reform Medicare because it emasculates Ryan among fractious Republicans in the House).

No doubt that Jason Conger, a Republican who represents Bend in the Oregon House, urged Knopp to run. Conger's kids and Knopp's kids are home-schooled.

Conger, who claimed that jobs were his main priority when he won the 54th District race in 2010, promptly introduced anti-abortion legislation when he got to Salem. Naturally, those efforts went nowhere, but he proved his bona-fides with the wingnuts back in Bend.

Here's hoping that Nathan Hovekamp, a former biology professor and school board member, can defeat Conger since redistricting supposedly now favors Democrats in Bend.

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