The MHLW 2014 Oregon Voters’ Guide

by Steve, October 22nd, 2014

electionHi everybody! It’s that time again, the time when I tell you how to vote! NO NO NO, only joking! I’m just going to tell you how I voted. I’m going to get the easy ones out of the way first, then spend some time on Measure 90 (top-two primaries), because that’s the toughest one (and it gets to the crux of so much that’s wrong with politics in Oregon).

Senate

Merkley. Merkley is consistently one of the most progressive voices in the US Senate. Wehby’s run as a “moderate” republican. But her campaign has been a hot mess, with repeated plagiarism on her Web site blamed on successively fired campaign managers. If a neurosurgeon can’t come up with her own health policy positions, well…

Congress, 1st District

Bonamici. Eh. Not much to say here. Our district is reliably Dem, Congress is reliably Republican, and Bonamici hasn’t done or said anything to piss me off.

Congress, 3rd District

Not my district anymore, but this is Earl Blumenauer’s seat until he retires or runs for Senate, basically. Despite his prog credentials, I would not vote for him based on his silence/complicity in Neil Goldschmidt’s child rape.

Governor

Jason Levin (Pacific Green Party). I’ve got issues with Kitz, who’s seeking an unprecedented fourth term. First, there’s an unsubstantiated rumor that he beat up his ex-wife, sending her to the ER. Second, there’s the substantiated fact that in our effectively one-party state, the ruling party, led by Kitzhaber, has repeatedly failed to reform our completely broken revenue stream resulting in a consistently starved education system. Bill Sizemore, the unelected, fraudulent and now-disgraced buffoon has had more influence on revenue and education policy in this state than over a decade of Democratic hegemony in statewide offices. I consider this a gross failure of leadership.

I also think the Cover Oregon fiasco is outrageous, and I speak as an enterprise software professional. This was gross management failure, plain and simple, and it cost taxpayers a quarter billion dollars (for comparison, that’s half the budget of our state’s largest school district).

Dennis Richardson, the GOP candidate, is so far out in right field (“A woman relinquishes her unfettered right to control her own body when her actions cause the conception of a baby”), he has no chance of beating Kitz. So this is protest vote #1 on my ballot.

State rep, 27th district

Wacky Mommy (write-in). I’ve got the same issues with Tobias Read that I’ve got with Oregon Democrats in general, which is mainly a lack of leadership. I also have issues with the fact that Read is running unopposed (the Libertarian candidate notwithstanding). Read is listed as both a Democrat and Republican on the ballot (he caucuses with the Democrats). This pisses me off. He also posts a lot of links to Tom Friedman columns on Facebook, which pisses me off further. He even posted a link to a David Brooks column. I’m done with this guy. Wacky Mommy for state rep!

Measure 86

Yes. This measure establishes an endowment for college scholarships. Hell yes.

Measure 87

Yes. Allows state judges to serve in the national guard and/or teach at state universities. Weak yes.

Measure 88

Yes. Driver cards without proof of immigration status. Hell yes. This is a public safety issue above all else.

Measure 89

Yes. Basically an Oregon Equal Rights Amendment. Too little, too late, but hell yes.

Measure 91

Yes. Legalizes, regulates and taxes marijuana. Hell yes. Prohibition doesn’t work. Marijuana is safer that alcohol or tobacco. The drug war failed. Get over it. Move on. Take a little revenue from it. Keep it from kids. Get high responsibly. Be creative. Make art. (When I was a teen in the 70s & 80s, with easy access to MJ, I had a bet with my best friend Jhon that it would be legal by the time we were 21. I was an optimist.)

Measure 92

Yes. Requires labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms. Hell yes. Monsanto has dumped much money into opposition of this, and it will probably fail because of that. Opponents whine that if GMOs are so bad, they should be outlawed. OK, let’s do that next. They also claim that no studies have shown them to be harmful. But one of the main benefits of Monsanto GMOs is their resistance to pesticides. Pesticides are harmful to consumers and the environment. So is monoculture. Fuck Monsanto, fuck GMOs. Label the food, raise awareness, and start moving to large-scale, sustainable ag.

Measure 90

Yes. Top-two primaries. I saved this for last, because I spent the most time thinking about it. This is one of the rare times you will see me voting against organized labor, which is the biggest voice against this measure (though both major parties are opposed).

This measure would set up a single ballot primary, like in California and Washington, with all candidates for an office listed together. The top-two vote getters would advance to a runoff in the general election.

This is currently how many local elections are held, for example Portland city council and mayor.

I totally understand Democratic Party opposition to this measure (and, by extension, their biggest financial supporters in public sector unions). Republicans have not won state-wide office since 2002, which means registered Democrats have chosen every statewide office holder since then. That’s a lot of power to voluntarily give up.

But I would argue that the Democratic Party hasn’t served its working class contributors all that well in that time. In the 90s, due to ballot measures pushed by libertarian Republican Bill Sizemore (funded by out-of-state richy-rich Loren Parks), we embarked on a path of ever dwindling resources for public education. Democrats have held the governor’s mansion the whole time, and controlled the state house for big chunks of that time, but have done absolutely nothing to fundamentally alter this downward spiral in tax revenue.

Yes, Dems have been better for public employees than Republicans might have been, but they’ve also been incredibly lazy in the “vision” department, utterly failing to correct course on the revenue front. So I see no reason to protect their monopoly on power (even though this measure probably wouldn’t actually threaten it).

Our current system of three different primary ballots (one each for registered Democrats and Republicans, and a third for independents and minor party members) guarantees that the Democratic Party gets to hand pick all state-wide office holders, and over half a million voters are disenfranchised.

Opponents of the top-two system argue that this is voluntary disenfranchisement, since it’s so easy to change party affiliation. But that’s beside the point. I should not have to register as a Democrat to have my vote count in Oregon. (And, seriously, do these people not get how Orwellian this argument sounds?)

Opponents also claim this measure would limit voter choice, and bemoan that some races might have two Democrats or two Republicans. In current Oregon House races, 31 of 60 races are unopposed. These races were decided by party faithful in May. I would gladly take a second Democrat on my ballot for my state house race, because the incumbent Democrat is significantly to the right of my values. Elections for city office in Portland are non-partisan, but virtually every candidate who makes the November runoff is a Democrat. Same for Portland school board. This represents the electorate, so what’s the problem?

Opponents claim that Measure 90 would kill minor parties. Well, my minor party, the Working Families Party, has endorsed Measure 90. Protest candidates would still have access, and protest voters could still cast their votes for them in the primary. But let’s be honest: having minor party candidates with insignificant constituencies and no chance of winning on the November ballot isn’t democracy. It’s democracy theater.

This measure isn’t perfect, and it’s probably going to fail. Instant runoff would be better. Proportional representation would be even better than that. But this is the best thing that’s come down the pike in a long time for independent and minor party voters.

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