Oregon's anemic filing day
Despite its bold assertions to the contrary, the GOP came up short in its bid to take on Democrats
Leaders of Oregon's struggling Republican Party have done a lot of talking lately about the GOP being poised to make a big comeback on the state political front.There are two state wide offices in play this year and in one case the Republicans will not even be fielding a candidate and can only come up with a weak candidate in the other. And any chance of taking back the State House evaporated when they couldn't find Republicans willing to run. Part of the problem in Oregon, like the rest of the country is money.
It's talk that wasn't aggressively backed up by action Tuesday on Oregon's filing deadline for the May primary.
Not a single Republican filed for attorney general, the party apparently having no one else to turn to a month ago when presumed GOP candidate Kevin Mannix began eyeing a run for Congress instead. And while several seasoned Democrats leaped into the race for secretary of state Tuesday, the Republicans mustered just one candidate, a political neophyte at that.
That's not exactly evidence of a party hellbent on roaring back to the days of glory when it held most of the statewide offices in Oregon. Nor did Tuesday's filing deadline show signs of an all-out Republican bid to regain control of the Legislature.
How else do you explain the party's failure to field candidates against a number of freshmen Democrats who won office two years ago by slim margins? In 2006, for example, Jean Cowan of Newport won her House seat by only 792 votes, yet this year she'll have no opponent at all.
And what about first-term Sens. Laurie Monnes Anderson of Gresham and Joanne Verger of Coos Bay? Leaders of both political parties considered the two Democrats to be beatable, yet neither will face a Republican opponent.
The eye-popping campaign spending of 2006 may have brought Oregon statehouse elections to a tipping point. Long-shot runs for the Legislature are discouraged by the cold reality of how difficult it is to amass the pile of campaign contributions now necessary.In order to come back the Republican Party in Oregon will have to re-invent itself.
That reality may be even harsher right now for the state's Republican Party, which recently was revealed to be more than $260,000 in debt and facing a $35,000 IRS lien for failing to pay payroll taxes. Long-shot candidates find running even less attractive when their party may not be solvent enough to pay for get-out-the-vote drives and other such support.
Hope for resurgence of the state GOP may lie in the efforts of a new group, the Oregon Leadership Council, a broad cross-section of top Republicans. They've been meeting for months on strategies to "rebrand" the party and reverse its two decades of difficulty at winning statewide elections.The Republican Party lost influence when it was taken over by the anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-tax, anti-government crowd that did not represent the majority of the state.
All who admired the Oregon Republican Party when it produced leaders such as Mark Hatfield, Vic Atiyeh and Tom McCall would heartily welcome such a resurgence. Unfortunately, as Tuesday made clear, it won't begin in Oregon's May 20 primary.