"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

A Kansas lesson for Oregon Republicans?

harris ROBERT


Independent candidate Greg Orman (Kansas) has just received a huge boost in his race for US Senate in heavily Republican Kansas.

Democratic nominee Chad Taylor dropped out of the election leaving independent Orman to face Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts in November.

The key takeaway from this for Oregon Republicans should be that in a jurisdiction tilted heavily towards one major party, the smaller major party can strategically choose not to field a candidate if there is a viable moderate in the race. And good things will happen.

In a Multnomah County State House race a moderate independent would likely outperform a Republican candidate. If nothing else this would force the Multnomah County Democrats to spend on their own general elections and prevent the leadership from shipping their campaign treasuries off to swing districts.

There is current precedent in Oregon. But it’s the Democratic Party who “got it”.

Democrat Ryan Howard was set to run in heavily Republican Oregon House District 25 (Yamhill Co). But once Independent Party member Chuck Lee entered the race, Howard switched and is running against Republican Kim Thatcher for Senate District 13, which isn’t quite as Republican. Chuck Lee won the Independent Party nomination and won the Democratic write in vote and will be one on one against Republican nominee and very conservative talk show host Bill Post.

Most years, the Republican candidate in HD-25 would cruise to a November victory. But Lee has over $51,000 on hand at this point, while Post has just $36,000. Since the May primary, Post has received contributions of $10,000 from Oregon Right to Life, $1,000 from ORLPAC and $1,000 from Banking industry PAC . He’s also received $4,000 from Republican Leader Mike McLane’s committee and $1,000 from Republican Representative John Davis’s committee. And he collected $2,500 from Oregon Firearms Federation PAC and $15,000 from businessman John Duke.

I suspect McLane, Davis, and these other entities (With the possible exception of Mr. Duke) would have preferred to use their money differently. Maybe in the Washington County swing districts where they have strong candidates Mark Richman in HD-29, and Dan Mason in HD-30.

HD-25 race shows that Democrats get it. If Lee beats Post, the Democrats have someone they can work with in the Legislature. And if Lee loses? At least Oregon Right to life and the Republican leadership spent their resources on a race that Democrats wouldn’t have been competitive in anyway. And they didn’t even have to finance a candidate. All they had to do was step out of the way.

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