John Frohnmayer at the Statehouse
There are ways of looking at John Frohnmayer's Oregon Senate candidacy - any candidacy, for that matter - other than in the political calculus of polls and vote probabilities. One of the those is in the calculus of structuring the debate.
He is running as a candidate of the Independent Party of Oregon (not yet, presumably, though likely as its eventual nominee), and we've suggested before that his odds of pulling in more votes than the Republican or Democratic nominee is not good. Putting that aside, he may have other kinds of effect.
Formerly both a Republican and a Democrat, Frohnmayer has a statesmanslike sense to him, particularly Oregonian in style, affable but serious. (Counterparts in Washington would be more aggressive, and in Idaho a little earthier.) Unlike independent efforts of the past, this one is starting early, already has covered large swaths the state and, Forhnmayer says, will hit all 36 counties before very long.
It's enough to get a message out and affect the discussion, especially if the tools of the digital age are put to work. And they have been. He's already been visible on YouTube, and his staff (which he already has) also is busy finding ways to gain visibility, sometimes in unlikely places. This morning we watched as he did that in the press conference room at the Salem Statehouse, drawing only a small local media contingent - but that didn't matter. His remarks, captured on video, were headed for YouTube, where he's already been drawing a substantial audience. (His clip on impeachment has drawn about 3,000 views so far.)
All this could turn into enough to work its way into the Smith-Merkley-Novick discussions. And the substance could be strong enough to affect its structure and tenor.