Turnout was substantial at Dorschester XLII (42, that is) at Seaside on a cool but pleasant Friday evening: These Republicans want back the governorship, and the prospects for doing that were on tap. It looked like around 500 or; if the official estimate was closer to 600, we won't quibble. It was a substantial group.
But which way to go? The decision seemed tougher the more this crowd pondered it.
A moment about Dorchester: This is an annual gathering of Oregon Republicans, founded (in largest part) by Robert Packwood, later a U.S. Senator - the Dorchester conferences were one of the devices he used early in his career to catapult his way to statewide prominence. It's very much a private event (albeit well-publicized, with portions like the Friday night event open to the public) which allows Republicans, outside of any formal structure, to meet, interact, discuss and figure out what and who they're all about. It's a good idea any party in any state could adopt to benefit. (Hello, Washington Republicans and Idaho Democrats.)
It can be most useful of all when a party has an important decision looming ahead, as the Oregon Republicans do in choosing among gubernatorial candidates. The sense Friday night seemed to be that they still - and not as a result of dissatisfaction or disapproval - were figuring out how best to weight in. (more…)