Make America Kind Again
Along with the traditional statewide races, we have seven statewide measures, plus one Bend measure to vote on.
The state has a record number of citizens registered to vote, thanks, in large part, to the Oregon Motor Voter program that began in January. Oregon has seen a 15 percent rise in registrations with more than 2.5 million signed up. Those folks who aren't registered, have until today (Oct. 18) to do so.
Turnout is expected to exceed 80 percent, thanks to our trail-blazing vote-by-mail system. Ballots should arrive in the mail this week along with property tax bills. If you want to avoid getting hounded on the phone by your political party, it's wise to vote early.
Oregon is definitely a Democratic state these days. When I moved here in 1984, Oregon was reliably Republican, and had been since it joined the Union in 1859.
Those days are long gone.
So far, Democrats (965,357) have a 265,000 edge in registrations over Republicans (699,921). However, there are nearly as many unaffiliated voters (660,731) as registered Republicans.
It's hard to see a Republican winning a statewide office this year. And, Donald Trump should get trounced here as he will in neighboring Washington and California.
Still, Oregon Democrats overwhelmingly favored Bernie Sanders in the primary. One would think, and hope, that they would vote for Hillary Clinton to avoid the embarrassment of the state going to Trump.
In 2000, the nation's eyes turned briefly to Oregon on election night as Ralph Nader nearly tipped the balance toward George W. Bush. In the end, Al Gore carried the state by less than 7,000 votes.
With all the scandals surrounding Trump, with all his incendiary, racist, sexist and idiotic statements, it's hard to see him doing well in this state.
In fact, given all the controversy that Trump has caused, if he were a Democrat, he would've been forced out of the race long ago.
Conversely, if Clinton were a man, her forced sincerity and the "scandals" over her e-mails and Benghazi, would've been almost completely ignored.
Yes, double standards exist, and they always will.
Anyway, here are my recommendations for the General Election, 2016.
President: Clinton. She's qualified. The other candidates are not. That said, there are far more Trump posters in rural Central Oregon than Clinton banners. I would hope that the Hispanics who work for farms and ranches in this region realize how much their employers despise them and vote accordingly.
Governor: Kate Brown. She stepped in when John Kitzhaber resigned in disgrace in early 2015 and did a better job running this state than he ever did. This election is only to fill out the rest of Kitzhaber's term.
Senator: Ron Wyden. He's one of the best senators to ever serve this state.
Secretary of State: Brad Avakian. As government becomes more dependent on the private sector, it's important to expand oversight over those companies doing business with the state as Avakian wants to do. Maybe, with more oversight, the Cover Oregon-Oracle debacle would've been caught much earlier
Attorney general: Ellen Rosenblum. Smart, steady and has weak competition on the ballot.
Treasurer: Tobias Read. Chris Telfer is running as on the Independent ticket. She used to be a Republican when she represented Bend in Salem until she was ousted by her party for working with Democrats. Still, Read would fare better in the office because of his close ties to legislators.
2nd Congressional District: Jim Crary. Don't know much about him, but he's definitely better than Greg Walden, a Republican toady who will easily be re-elected in the only Republican-dominated House district in the state.
State Senate District 27: Greg Delgado. A relative unknown, he is still better than Tim Knopp, a career politician, who has served this region poorly for far too long. It's time he get the boot. There are about 1,200 more registered Democrats than Republicans in this Bend-area district, but the significant number of non-affiliated voters of more than 25,000 should return Knopp to Salem.
State House District 54: Gena-Goodman Campbell. She's a neophyte but has the right priorities and endorsements to warrant election to this seat representing the city of Bend. However, she'll likely lose to incumbent Knute Buehler, who is a Republican in Name Only. Got to give Buehler credit, though, for repudiating Trump more than a year ago. Buehler acts like Democrat with his support for women's reproductive health and marriage equality. It makes sense because registered Democrats (18,234) outnumber Republicans (12,952). But, there are 12,660 unaffiliated voters in Bend and they'll return Buehler to Salem, which will help him in his bid for the governorship in 2018.
Deschutes County Sheriff: Like many sheriff's offices in this country. Deschutes has its share of controversy and inept leadership. For some reason, those attracted to serve in the sheriff's office have a "wild west," pro-firearm mentality. It's hard to endorse anyone for this office.
Deschutes County Commission: Alan Unger. The incumbent from Redmond is a common-sense Democrat who knows how to work well with others. It shows. He's endorsed by the mayors of the major cities in the county. It's impressive that Unger wins as a Democrat because Deschutes County has more registered Republicans (40,647) than Democrats (38,356). Plus, there are 31,018 non-affiliated voters.
Bend City Council: Doug Knight and Sally Russell. These are lukewarm endorsements, at best, because they are running for re-election against inferior competition. The rest running for the other seats are just not worth talking about. We're losing Jim Clinton, who is one of the best councilors to ever serve the city. It doesn't matter who wins because neither the council nor city staff actually runs the city. Rather, a handful of developers, Realtors, and beer magnates dictate the direction of the city, which completely favors the west side over all other areas of the city. Bend, like many cities, is poorly managed. The public works department is pathetic and planning is almost non-existent.
Measure 94: No. It amends the state constitution to eliminate a mandatory retirement age of 75 for state judges. Look, if you're in the private sector, companies want to force you out when you hit your 50s. Plus, 75 is old enough. Let younger lawyers have a chance.
Measure 95: Yes. This amends the state constitution to allow public universities to invest in the stock market to improve their finances. Of course, this is terribly risky, but the universities have no choice because the state has decreased its support for higher education from about 70 percent in the early 1980s to about 7 percent today. This coincides with the anti-tax/government movement that has decimated the basic infrastructure in this country, which includes education.
Measure 96: No. This dedicates 1.5 percent of lottery net proceeds to fund support services for Oregon veterans of the Armed Forces. This is a noble measure, but veterans' services are the responsibility of the federal government. This state has no extra money to spend on veterans.
Measure 97: Yes. This measure increases the corporate minimum tax when sales exceed $25 million. A no-brainer, really. Corporations pay less here than in 49 other states. This measure only affects about 1 percent of the corporations doing business in Oregon. In the Voters' Pamphlet, there are 14 pages devoted to screeds against the measure and only six pages in favor. That tells you corporations are a little scared of this measure and that's a damn good thing. Plus, some opponents of this measure are whining about the placement of their arguments in the Voters' Pamphlet. That's another reason to vote for this measure. Shut them up.
Measure 98: Yes, but. This measure requires state funding for dropout prevention from Oregon high schools. Oregon has one of the worst dropout rates in the country and it makes sense to try and reverse this trend. Yet, there is no money to pay for this measure. It's an unfunded mandate, unless Measure 97 passes. Oh well, better to try and improve education than give another tax break to a multinational corporation.
Measure 99: Yes. This measure funds outdoor school programs statewide though lottery funds. This is a much better way to spend lottery dollars. The more we invest in the front end, the less we have to deal with on the back end.
Measure 100: Yes. Prohibits purchases or sale of parts or products from certain wildlife species. Do we really need more aphrodisiacs? We aren't that backwards, are we?
Measure 9-110: Yes. This measure imposes a local 3 percent tax on the sale of recreational marijuana in Bend. We should also have a local tax on beer, wine and hard liquor. If we want to curb less-desirable habits, we should tax them heavily like we do with tobacco products.