"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

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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