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Oregon Republican nearly out of cash

harris ROBERT


We know that the Oregon Republican Party is in financial crisis. Not necessarily individual candidates or officials, many had well funded campaigns and were able to raise money and had money spent on their behalf by independent expenditure organizations.

But the Republican Party of Oregon itself has done little in the way of fundraising or candidate support. Here is some data from ORESTAR for December, 2014. And while the graph above displays cash balance, just as important is the data on money raised and money spent in support of organization and candidates. If the GOP had raised and spent $2,000,000, their cash balance wouldn’t be concerning.

PARTY 2014 Income 2014 Expenses Current Cash

Democratic $ 2,359,768 $2,328.974 $ 148,201
Republican $22,436 $29,836 $ 600
Independent $15,553 $11,050 $15,562

Of course each county has a local Democratic and Republican Party. Perhaps the Republican focused their party building efforts locally? A spot check of the larger counties dispels that theory.

The Multnomah and Washington County Democratic Party organizations combined raised $131,133, spent $180,148 and were left with a cash balance of $82,198.

The Clackamas and Washington County Republican Party organizations combined raised $38,884, spent $60,670 and had a cash balance of $12,167. So while the local Republican Parties did provide more candidate support than the State organization, they still trailed the local Democratic Organizations badly and don’t come close to providing the type of candidate support that the Democratic State Party provided.

Do State Parties still matter? Today campaigns can be run separate from the Party so do these stark differences mean anything? Dark money groups and individual expenditure committees funded by wealthy individuals and corporate interests can and do finance individual candidates. But that strategy takes a toll on central organization and the ability to build a coherent brand, strategy and volunteer base. And the drawback of candidates going it alone is that their party is abandoned to the most active and partisan volunteers. Without adequate funding and investment by the candidates and party financiers, a Party’s brand can be hijacked by narrowly focused interest groups with a zealous agenda. And if the brand is tarnished in the minds of 60% of the voters, candidates in swing districts will be more harmed than helped by association with the Party.

Of course this could be a chicken and egg question for the Oregon GOP. Did the financiers abandon support for a centralized Republican Party because of zealous over reach by Party activists? Or did the zealous activists simply fill a void left when the financiers decided they could have more influence and control by more directly funding individual candidates. And if its the latter, can the Oregon GOP donors rebuild the brand by focusing on statewide party building efforts rather than individual candidates?

Regardless, there is currently no organization that adequately represents Oregon voters who are more economically conservative than the Democratic Party base, but more socially liberal than the GOP base. That void is evidenced by the boom of the independent voter movement and by studies that show both the Democratic and Republican Parties become more polarized and partisan. Whether the Independent Party of Oregon can fill that void and actively recruit and help finance candidates in Oregon Swing districts could be answered by the amount of funding it is able to attract between now and 2016, when its candidates will be appearing on the May primary ballot with the big kids.

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