The MHLW 2008 Oregon Voters’ Guide

by Steve, October 18th, 2008

Oregon ballots are in the mail and voting has begun. I’m honored to have just cast a historic vote for Barack Obama for president. Down ticket, things aren’t as clear-cut, especially on the ballot measures, so here’s my usual two cents worth on things, from the top.


President: Barack Obama

It sounds totally trite to repeat this, but this is probably the most important vote of a generation. I voted for Ralph Nader in the last two elections, and don’t regret it a bit (and also don’t blame him for the crappy Democratic tickets and campaigns which deserve 100% of the blame for eight years of George W. Bush), but this year it’s Obama all the way.

Even if he ends up disappointing in many ways (he is, after all, a centrist Democrat whose policy positions are much closer to McCain’s than mine in many respects), his presidency will be important in many ways.

US Senate: Jeff Merkley

The national GOP has all but given up on holding the White House, and is instead focused on a rearguard action to hold Senate seats and keep the Democrats from winning a filibuster-proof sixty seats. Gordon Smith, the only Republican Senator currently serving a west coast state (Alaska notwithstanding), holds one of those seats the Democrats would like to capture, and Portlander Jeff Merkley has held a razor-thin lead in the polls. Merkley would give Oregon two Demoratic Senators, and would likely pull Ron Wyden a little bit leftward.

US Congress: Straight Dem

My seat (3rd District) is essentially uncontested, with incumbent Earl Blumenauer facing only token opposition. There are real races in the rest of Oregon, though, and I encourage you to vote for the Democrat in your race.


With the state GOP entering a state of perennial disarray, they’re having a hard time fielding candidates for statewide office. So for statewide offices, I’m voting straight Dem. Here they are:

Secretary of State: Kate Brown

State Treasurer: Ben Westlund

Attorney General: John Kroger

State Ballot Measures

There are a ton of measures this year, but despite appearances (and with only a couple exceptions), these are mostly no-brainers. Measures 58 through 64 — every one of them — are from Bill Sizemore or Kevin Mannix and deserve your no vote on that alone. Spend your time considering the other measures, and you’ll be fine.

Measure 54: Yes

This measure repeals an unenforceable law. Yes is the only sensible vote.

Measure 55: yes

Referred by the legislature; common sense.

Measure 56: Yes

Repeals the “double majority” law, which counts non-voters as “no” votes on tax measures. This will undo an extremely damaging, undemocratic law, and allow local jurisdictions to more easily raise revenue for schools and public safety.

Measure 57: Yes

The lesser of two evils of the “get tough on crime” measures on the ballot. I’d vote no on this, but if both 57 and 61 pass, the one with the most votes becomes law. So hold your nose and voter for 57. Yuck.

Measures 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, and 64: No

The Sizemore/Mannix assault on children and other vulnerable Oregonians. Defend Oregon explains these measures in more detail than I want to go into here.

Measure 65: Yes

This is the open primary initiative, which would put all candidates on the same non-partisan ballot in the primary, with the top-two vote getters on the general election ballot in the fall. The major parties hate it, because it means their nominations could be made moot (we could easily see two Democrats on the ballot in fall elections, or, if fortunes change, two Republicans). The minor parties hate it, because it means they could no longer put their candidates on the fall ballot (unless they did well enough in the primary).

I struggled with this one, mainly on the minor party argument (I’m registered Pacific Green, which opposes this measure). But the bottom line is, having ballot access for minor parties in the general election is meaningless if they don’t stand a chance of winning. They need to recruit real, viable candidates, raise the money it takes to compete, and run a real race in the primary.


Portland City Council: Amanda Fritz

My support for Fritz is well-known.

Measure 26-96: No

Elephants don’t belong in zoos, and $125 million dollars of public indebtedness isn’t going to change that.

Measure 26-95: Yes

PCC is the largest institution of higher learning in the state, and it’s growing. We need to continue to support the expansion of PCC’s reach to students of all walks of life.

Measure 26-94: Yes

The programs of the Children’s Levy should be funded by the state… but they’re not. Vote yes to keep vital programs alive until the state house gets off its collective ass and provides funding for things like music in the classroom.

Remember to get those ballots in early, folks! Oregon ballots must be at the election office by election day; postmarks don’t matter.

2 Responses to “The MHLW 2008 Oregon Voters’ Guide”

  1. Comment from Terry:

    I’m surprised, Steve, that a radical like you would advocate a straight party line vote. I just published a post advocating support for qualified third party candidates.

    We also disagree on M65, and possibly on M57.

    Oh well. Let the arguments begin.

  2. Comment from Steve:

    I don’t see how we disagree on 57. I’d be voting no on it, if that didn’t count as a yes on 61. Unless I’m misreading your post, that’s your position too?

    As for 65, well, I struggled. This measure would essentially make our major races non-partisan, with a run-off, much like Portland’s city council races are run. I understand the arguments against it; I just don’t agree with them (especially the major parties’ arguments).

    My support for 65 is tepid, but it’s too late to change my vote!

    Re. voting straight dem, all I can say is I’m tired of quixotic third-party protest voting.