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Posts published in “Day: August 28, 2006”

Power strategies

The Rob Brading campaign seems to be almost on to something - almost. Tactically, it knows it has to do battle with the library Internet porn charge poured down from an ally of its opponent, Oregon House Speaker Karen Minnis. But the strategic element hasn't quite been there. Yet. But could be. May be that Oregon's premier legislative race - and if it wasn't before, it surely is now - hangs on it.

It hangs on a question of power.

Karen MinnisKaren Minnis has been speaker of the House for four years, and she is no figurehead. In close alliance with Majority Leader Wayne Scott, she runs the House; her effectiveness in the role is acknowledged by her critics. Her effectiveness is widely bemoaned, in fact, by many Democrats.

As makes sense, she plays this up in her district (the 49th, in eastern Multnomah County, including Troutdale and Wood Village and part of Gresham). Watch her campaign video for a good sense of how. In a short but effective string of examples, she shows people from the district talking about problems they have faced, and how Minnis helped them through her work in the House. It's cleanly produced and an effective declaration of usefulness and effectiveness. And at the end of it one of the (unnamed) people adds, "They say Karen's in for the fight of her political life. I can't see how that's true. She's never stopped fighting for us."

Rob BradingIt's an interesting acknowledgement, and probably necessary. Two years ago, when Minnis was coming off her first term as speaker, she drew a little-known opponent - Brading - who ran an enthusiastic but lightly funded and organized campaign against her. Minnis won, but it's a tossup which candidate was more surprised at the close margin, just 53.4% for a solidly established House speaker who drastically outspent her opponent, who never seemed to have delivered a real blow of his own.

Or, in a backhanded way, did he? The most notable incident of the campaign came when Minnis, in an unusual acknowledgement of her opposition, suggested that in his service on a library advisory board, Brading should have pressed for more efforts to keep children from accessing porn at Internet-linked library computers. The implication that Brading is okay with kids viewing porn was too much, and he demanded an apology from Minnis, and got one. The subject was not revisited. That cycle. (more…)


The mass media may not take note, but it should: The Northwest now has two Democratic-"netroots" endorsed U.S. House candidates. Darcy Burner, challenging Dave Reichert in the Washington 8th, was endorsed a while ago (and in our estimation remains the closest call of any House race in the Northwest). Today a second was added: Larry Grant, the Democrat running in the open Idaho 1st, against Republican Bill Sali. There are 18 such candidates nationally, so it's not a massive group - each one gets some genuine attention.

Meaning what? These races essentially are being put on the national liberal net network, backed specifically by blogs such as Daily Kos, My DD and Swing State Project, all among the most visited political web sites in the country. That translates to putting these candidates consistently in front of hundreds of thousands (at the least) very active activists, who have demonstrated an impressive track record in generating money and on-ground support for favored candidates, as well as putting the opposition under an atomic microscope. Such support is not enough to win an unwinnable race. It can be enough to matter if the race tightens on its own merits. (Republicans, by the way, do not yet appear to have any direct counterpart.)

And in Grant's race? We've suggested before that the dynamics of the race presently favor Sali, and still think so, but that does not mean the dynamics cannot change. Given the nature of the year, the nature of Sali, and other intriguing elements, that is certainly possible. And if it does - if the race looks as if it's closing at the end - this kind of support can be very important. It has been in other House races around the country.