Friday, October 10, 2014

2014 state election endorsements easy

Even the state fact book is blue
Since Republicans cower from fielding electable candidates to statewide office, Nov. 4's general election doesn't provide much drama.

Gov. John Kitzhaber should win an unprecedented fourth term even though he's had a terrible third term led by the total failure of Cover Oregon, the health insurance exchange.

Plus, his fiancee, former Bendite Cylvia Hayes,  just revealed that she had a third, sham marriage in the 1990s to an Ethiopian immigrant so that he could stay in this country. She pocketed $5,000, which she failed to report on her taxes. Talk about October surprises.

But, Kitzhaber faces a state legislator, Dennis Richardson, who is so extreme in his far right-wing views that he'll have a hard time winning over many non-affiliated voters, who make up almost a quarter of the electorate.

Even The Oregonian newspaper, which now skews right, endorsed Kitzhaber because his opponent is so far-afield from "Oregon values."

Obviously, a newspaper endorsement doesn't mean much these days.

It's important, though, that Kitzhaber wins because this state does not need a divisive, clueless figure in Richardson to run this state. As a Mormon, Richardson's first allegiance is to his religion not his state or country.

The other major statewide race should see Democrat Jeff Merkley easily win a second term to the U.S. Senate.

Merkley has represented the state well, is likable and approachable. He definitely deserves a second term.

His opponent, Dr. Monica Wehby, is just not ready for prime-time. She's another political dilettante. She believes, like many self-absorbed people, that she deserves to win a statewide office even though she's never held elective office.

Well, her ex-husband and a former boyfriend had to call the police to stop her from harassing them.

She claims she's an "independent" Republican and not beholden to GOP orthodoxy. Yet, on her website, she plagiarized Republican talking points on health and economic issues.

Of course, these revelations did not come from any media source in Oregon.

No, the websites Politico and Buzzfeed broke those stories.

Newspapers used to have some investigative reporting, but those days are long gone. Commercial TV stations have never been known for making many political scoops because they've been wholly dependent on political ads to finance their operations and do not want to offend anyone, at least not Republicans.

Like all Democratic candidates for statewide office, Merkley is bolstered by a sizable advantage among registered voters.

Democrats lead Republicans 38 percent to 30 percent, which, amazingly, is an increase over the last election cycle.

Yes, Oregon is a "blue" state, thank god.

But, Bend is not as "blue."

Democrats, locally, are 35 percent of the electorate, the Republicans about 30 percent and non-affiliated voters 25 percent.

This should give the edge to Democrat Craig Wilhelm in the state House race for Bend.

But, Republican Knute Buehler, a political neophyte who lost a winnable race for Oregon state secretary two years ago, has run a savvy campaign.

In order to appeal to those non-affiliated voters, Buehler backs abortion rights and marriage equality.

Those stances didn't fully come to light until after the primary, but once they did, Buehler lost the backing of right-wing groups, but gained some support of the non-affiliated.

Also, Buehler is running TV ads showing Democrats who plan to vote for him.

Most decisively, though, Buehler resorted to negative ads, which usually tip the balance in close elections.

What annoys me about Democrats, particularly in local elections, is that they do not employ as negative campaigning as Republicans do. Yes, these ads are unseemly, but they work.

Wilhelm will likely lose the election because he did not go negative.

It will be interesting to see if Buehler's shift in positions on social issues will cost him enough Republican votes to sway the election. Or, will the wing-nutters abandon their principles and vote for Buehler.

Keep Oregon "blue": vote Kitzhaber, Merkley and Wilhelm.

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