Writings and observations

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The GOP’s state office dry spell makes this summers weather look like a monsoon. Nonetheless, the GOP is still considered the opposition party in Oregon. Even though it hasn’t put up much opposition in statewide races in the last 10 years. In fact, it’s been 30 years since there has been a Republican Governor.

But could the Democratic favorites be challenged in statewide races this year? Possibly, but it may not be the GOP that presents the Democrats biggest challenges.

For Governor, the only GOP candidates who have announced an intent to run for State offices are Dr. Bud Pierce a medical doctor who has never held elective office who has announced for Governor. And Jeffrey Gudman, a Lake Oswego city councilor who announced his interest for the office of State Treasurer and has started raising money(though less than $10,000 so far).

No Republican has announced their candidacies for Secretary of State or Attorney General. And, given the last several election cycles, serious GOP candidates may be hard to come by given the dominance of the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile rumor has it that Sen. Betsy Johnson (For Governor) and Bend City Council person/ former State Senator/CPA / Lottery Commissioner Chris Telfer (For Treasurer) could end up at the top of the ticket for the new major Party – Independent Party of Oregon. A moderate experienced current State Democratic Senator and a moderate experienced former Republican State Senator is an impressive ticket.

Ms. Telfer has already registered as an IPO member so doesn’t have to announce her candidacy until March, 2016. However, Sen. Johnson is (as far as I know) still a registered Democrat. She would have to register with the IPO by September 10th to be eligible for the IPO nomination so she needs to make a decision in the next two weeks. If she does re-register as an Independent it would be a pretty good indication that she is going to seek the IPO nod for Governor. Though she could re-register but not announce her intent until later. But de-registering from the Democratic Party is a serious matter. You don’t leave fight club.

Another possible sign that Sen. Johnson is going to run as an Independent would be Ms. Telfer’s announcement of her candidacy for Treasurer. Having Johnson and Telfer at the top of the IPO ticket would provide more gravitas to the IPO nomination so would benefit both. And since it would be an historical event, and both Ms. Telfer and Sen. Johnson have a plenty of history here in Oregon to mine, an IPO ticket of Johnson/Telfer should provide the media with a lot of story lines and content. Because frankly, there is little GOP news to cover and little DPO intrigue (Except in the Secretary of State race, which according to The Oregonian Editorial Board is shaping up as a race involving Valdemort, Darth Vadar and Marie Antoinette.

Another reason to announce within the next two weeks is the down ticket effect. With Johnson and Telfer at the top, it would encourage other community leaders such as city councilpersons and school board members who want effective public policy to consider running as an Independent. The bigger the number of qualified IPO candidates statewide, the better it is for the top of the ticket.

Assuming Ms. Telfer and Sen. Johnson decide to run as Independents, which opposition party’s ticket looks stronger for Statewide office? The IPO’s Johnson/Telfer ticket, or the GOP’s Pierce/Gudman ticket.

Yes, it’s still very early and more GOP candidates could announce, and Telfer and Johnson may think it’s too big of a lift and the IPO could end up with your crazy uncle Herb as it’s nominee for Governor. But right now, I’d bet on a Johnson/Telfer ticket over any ticket the GOP could come up with. And if it does pan out, it could signify there is in fact a major shift in Oregon politics, and all those Democrats who say – they really do wish there were a fiscally conservative and Socially liberal opposition party because its good for Oregon – may just be tested on how sincere they really were.

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Harris