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Posts published in “Day: July 24, 2008”

A latter-day McCall?

Joel Haugen

Joel Haugen

The campaign web site for Joel Haugen, the Republican nominee running for the 1st U.S. House district in Oregon, has a FAQ which leads with this question: "I'm confused. You've endorsed Obama, you're anti-Iraq War, you're an environmentalist... and you're a Republican?"

With a question like that, do you necessarily need the answer? It tells you quite a bit right up front, such as that Haugen is probably not super-close to most of the area's Republican organization.

Sal Peralta, the 2006 Democratic candidate for the state House in Yamhill County, and now an Independent Party member, recently interviewed him and described him as "a poster-child for progressive Republicanism." Haugen himself likes to harken back to former Governor Tom McCall.

Haugen did win the Republican nomination (to oppose incumbent Democrat David Wu), and did it by defeating a social conservative much more in tune with the party activists, Claude William-Chappell. But area party leaders say, simply, that Haugen isn't really a Republican, and they'd much prefer he just . . . go away. The party isn't giving him any help.

Today, the McMinnville News Register reports that Haugen is talking to Independent Party leaders about possibly switching over to their group.

Which could mean that the Independent Party has a candidate in the 1st District race, but the Republicans do not. At least, the Republican Party as it is today.

Death/Assisted qualifies

When 11 years ago Oregon voters approved what called "death with dignity" - aka "assisted suicide" - an unanswerable concern was in the air: Do we really know what the effects might be? In fact, no one could be entirely sure. That ma y be true of most new laws, of course, but the consequences in this case were a little higher than most.

All these years later, we do pretty much know what the effects are, and they have been of smaller scale that most people who voted up or down probably anticipated. The law "allows terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose," and the state has collected detailed information on what has happened as a result. In those 11 years, 341 people have died using physician-assisted medications, about 30 a year. (The number of prescriptions is somewhat higher, showing that not everyone who asked for the assistance made use of it.)

Voters in Washington, now that Initiative 1000 - that state's physician-assisted suicide measure - has qualified for ballot status in November, have an advantage over those Oregon voters. They don't have to guess what the effects are likely to be. Unless something about the terminally ill in Washington is somehow a lot different from those in Oregon, the effects are likely to be similar. Smaller in scale, in other words, than a lot of people who work themselves up on this issue are likely to think.

Not unimportant, of course - this is a matter of life and death. But no massive sweep of deaths around the state, either.