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Kennemer for Scott?

Bill Kennemer

Bill Kennemer

The upcoming retirement of Representative Wayne Scott, R-Canby – till recently leader of the Oregon House Republicans – left an opening both parties should be jumping to fill. If word over at NW Republican pans out, the Republicans may be jumping first, with a choice that could give them an edge.

That would be Bill Kennemer, who for the last decade has been a Clackamas County commissioner – a good jumping point for other elective office, as U.S. Representative Darlene Hooley can attest – and before that elected four times (starting in 1986) to the Oregon Senate. Kennemer won his commission seat with 55% in 2004 and 57.4% in 2000; not powerhouse numbers, but his record of wins in this area is very long, reaching more than two decades.

NW Republican’s take is that “He has run and won there several times and if the next cycle brings any nervousness in the voters then they will almost certainly vote for the name that is tried and true. However the downside is that in being safe he will bring no real passion to the party or the caucus.” We wouldn’t argue that, and certainly he would enter as a known quantity, which is a strong advantage. But his entry might generate stronger interest than just this suggests.

The Clackamas commission overall has gotten some bun headlines from time to time, and in 2006 and early this year the partisan shifts on the panel, and an ’06 battle over the chairmanship (which Kennemer won, for a time) has resulted in some exposed nerves, on both sides. (One of those elbowed was Democratic Commissioner Martha Schrader, ousted last year as chair in favor of Kennemer, but returned this year as chair when a Democrat won the third commission seat. Oh, and her husband is prominent state Senator Kurt Schrader. The Schraders are not obscure folk at Salem.)

A Kennemer candidacy could bring immediate natural advantages, but also Democratic talking points and some emotional incentive to go after him in a serious way. In all, it could launch a hot contest that could be a whole lot of fun to watch.

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