Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Day: January 16, 2008”

The Roberts model

Following up on the last post, we ran across an I Am Coyote post at NW Republican that offers an idea to the Republican problem of running and winning statewide. Comments on the theory are welcome.

He calls it the Jack Roberts Model, after one of the last Republicans (Senator Gordon Smith aside) to win statewide, for labor commissioner), who happens to hail from Eugene. (He makes clear that Roberts says he has no plans at present to run for anything.)

The common GOP model in Oregon, recently, has been to nominate Portland area moderates to run in the state-wide elections. That model has not worked. Quite frankly I have never liked that model and that has caused some PDX area GOPers to be slightly uncomfortable with me.

There is another model however that has shown to be effective. That is to find a Republican that runs strong in the Eugene/Lane County region. A Republican that may not be a Yamhill County conservative, but is also not a PDX moderate. It is a model to gain a strong base of support and even win in Lane County while also winning the rest of the state.

In the standard state-wide GOP model a Republican must take about 32% of the Portland area vote in order to win state-wide. The thinking is, and the numbers constantly bear this out, that the rest of the state is so disconnected with Portland that a reasonable candidate will win a state-wide election while losing Portland. It is possible and Kevin Mannix's first run against Kulongoski almost got that done.

However the other population center in the Willamette Valley is Lane County. Jack Roberts won his Labor Commissioner race with a base of support in Lane County. The thinking behind that model is that winning the population center of Lane county will offset even greater losses in PDX.

Would the home turf issue be enough to kick a Republican over the top? We have doubts. But Coyote is surely right that the approach of running a Portland moderate (Ron Saxton in 2006, for example), with the hope of cutting into the Democratic vote in Multnomah County, seems not to have worked. Or does the large vote in the suburbs - in Washington and Clackamas - which have been tilting Democrat, render the Portland/Eugene formula beside the point?

Good material here for discussion. Coyote also notes that he knows of a possible candidate for a major office who would fit his criteria. Interesting: The theoretical could become quite practical.

Plotting a rebuild

What's the appropriate medicine for a political mired deep in the dumps of second place? Another discussion group - for Oregon Republicans, the Oregon Leadership Council highlighted in the Oregonian today - doesn't offhand seem the answer.

The concern its co-founder, Portland investment broker Tim Phillips, expressed is certainly legitimate enough: "We have to do something because right now it is not looking very promising. If we don't do something, there is a risk we will see a multigenerational decline in the Republican Party in Oregon."

They're talking about undertaking research into the question of why the decline (remember, Republicans controlled the legislature in 2002 and nearly won the governorship that year) has occurred, and how to reverse it. If they go at it seriously, the results would be fascinating to see; certainly Washington Republicans and Idaho Democrats also would like to know.

Our guess is that the reasons (in all three cases) are broad and not susceptible to a simple list of easily-implemented bullet items; after all, the Republicans in Washington and Oregon and the Democrats in Idaho got where they are as a result of a lot of decisions and actions over a lot of years; and the impressions they have left on the electorate about who and what they are, or good or ill, won't be undone in a cycle or two. Dan Lavey, a Republican consultant, was quoted as saying simply, "The most effective way you can position a political party is to have quality candidates who run quality campaigns."

Hard to argue too far with that analysis - but it begs a lot of questions nonetheless. We'll be curious to see if the new researchers have much luck answering them.