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Sumner’s replacement

About the transition of the Oregon House seat in district 18, from newly re-elected Mac Sumner to someone else, three quick observations.

Mac Sumnerbullet As we know now, his departure is for ongoing treatment for lung cancer, a condition he clearly has known about for quite a few months and didn’t disclose to the voters. [UPDATE/AMENDMENT]: On reflecting and after considering a comment – see comment 1 below – this is too harsh and too pointed at the candidate; Sumner didn’t hide his condition. But word of it was not widely spread, and several people and news organizations should have better informed the voters.]

bullet The Salem Statesman Journal reports that the nominees offered by local Republicans to take Sumner’s place are Mike Shrock of Aurora, Ken Iverson of Woodburn, Vic Gilliam of Silverton, Victor Hoffer of Mount Angel and Jeff Faville of Salem. We have no particular take on what the Marion and Clackamas County commissioners may do in picking among them, as they are supposed to do by December 27. (A curiosity: Tootie Smith, who once held this House seat, was earlier said to be interested but not listed in among the nominated five.)

We will suggest the most interesting of these prospects may be Hoffer, who has had some visbility as a candidate before. In the Blue Oregon review of the prospects, state labor director Dan Gardner weighs in with a recollection: “Victor Hoffer ran against me in 2000 for Labor Commissioner He is the nicest opponent I ever had. I used to call him Mr full service He is a lawyer and an ambulance driver.”

bullet Finally: Isn’t this system for replacing legislators – by way of county commissioners – just a little clunky? Doesn’t it give odd imbalances in cases of districts where one or more counties have only a precinct or two of participation, but commissioners get a heavy say in the decision?

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  1. torridjoe torridjoe December 23, 2006

    I don’t think it’s fair to say Sumner didn’t disclose it. There was an Oregonian article in September in which it was made known. Those around him knew, and on NWRepublican it was discussed more than once. I myself called the campaign shortly before the election, and it was freely offered by his wife/campaign manager “Well, you know he has lung cancer.”

    Was the electorate as well informed as it could have been? Probably not–but show me a legislative race where they were. I hesitate to say he was hiding his condition; he certainly volunteered it to me.

    There are lingering questions, because a certain commenter on both BlueO and LoadedO predicted to us before the election that he would not serve a day, and he was obviously right. But I have heard from other acquaintances of Sumner’s, who said they saw him in mid-October and their spirits were high, and he looked better than previously. So again, I hesitate to make any judgement because people’s illnesses rise and fall without warning, even in 6 weeks.

    I agree the replacement system is less than ideal. I think any candidate who fails to be seated should result in a special election the following May. Perhaps the local parties could still agree on their nominees, to avoid the primary.

  2. Randy Stapilus Randy Stapilus Post author | December 23, 2006

    Thanks for the fuller picture. After reconsidering, we agree that we were too harsh on Sumner, though it still seems to us that the mediators – news organizations especially didn’t get the message through very effectively. Which, of course, wasn’t the Sumners’ fault.

  3. O. Waltz O. Waltz December 23, 2006

    Before getting all agog over Hoffer because of a complimentary post by Dan Gardner, I suggest you check out the coverage of the HD18 Republican nomination convention in the Dec 23rd edition of the Molalla Pioneer. Apparently Hoffer “named abortion and gun control as two of the main issues he would work against”….

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