Finally the insane national primary season is over; we have “presumptive” candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. We also have upcoming conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia that might not be presumptively conventional.
Some Republicans continue to bid for a “no trump” hand in Cleveland, and geezers like me remember the police riots during the divided 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. Presumably, Bernie’s army will stage its battle for development of a progressive party platform in a reasonable manner, and the Philadelphia police won’t riot.
Ultimately, neither Sanders nor Trump has any right to call the DNC and RNC convention rules “rigged.” That implies rules were changed recently to put them at a disadvantage. Nothing could be further from the truth: Both parties have created and manipulated rules that benefit insiders for years. Duh! The only thing that’s changed the equation since the 1970s is money, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, for example. What else do the Republican presidential nominee and the Koch brothers have in common besides being billionaires?
But don’t leave for Canada, dear reader, if you fear Trump. If escapism is your strategy, remember: Canada is cold, it has no economy and its national health insurance is vastly overrated. You die waiting in lines for health care up there, from what I hear.
I suggest moving to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. The weather is much better there and they’re having much more fun in their political theater! Georgian suspects described as “far-right extremists” — picture Ammon and Cliven Bundy with andouille and chorizo sausages in their holsters — recently entered a vegan café in Tbilisi wearing sausages around their necks and carrying slabs of meat on skewers, before attacking customers and staff. Now Eugene is a pretty hip city, and I don’t think we would have a big problem with a few people having issues about vegetarianism here … but in Tbilisi it led to a public brawl. (Damn militant Georgian vegans.) Talk about political reality shows!
OK, fine, stay in Oregon then. Rumor has it that Trump’s triumph and his falling out with the Kochs has the brothers looking for other places to use their pledged $835 million war chest to influence politics in America in 2016. Oregon represents 1 percent of the nation’s population, so let’s assume the Kochs want to spend $8 million in Oregon. How would they spend it, and more importantly, on whom? Or on what ballot measures?
At first glance, there are no easy targets. Sen. Ron Wyden won his last race in 2010 by 14 points, and our four Democratic members of Congress all have safe seats this cycle. And I’d be surprised if Republican Bud Pierce draws much attention in his run against Kate Brown. Pierce doesn’t excite the religious right wing of his party.
Insiders speculate that Republicans will concede 2016 to Gov. Kate Brown, and they’re already prepping Knute Buehler to run against her in 2018. Oregon Republicans have a recent history of promoting physicians to run for statewide office without any previous political experience — Monica Wehby against Jeff Merkley last cycle, Knute in 2012 against Kate for secretary of state, and now Bud Pierce.
It looks like Buehler has already started his 2018 bid for governor. The legislator from Bend recently called for Portland’s school board to fire its superintendent “pending an investigation into her incompetence” regarding lead discovered in the district’s buildings. This kind of rookie grandstanding is baffling coming from a guy whose do-nothing obstructionist Republican House caucus set a record for ineffectiveness in the 2015 session. His voting record begs the question of how much he cares for the children in his own district, much less the kids in Portland.
So where do the Kochs go? Maybe the Oregon secretary of state race? It’s an open seat with no incumbent running. Republican Dennis Richardson fits the role model for the Kochs: ultra-conservative, self-righteous, anti-government, anti-choice, anti-public employee and a big fan of corporate wealth. You think Brad Avakian’s not aware of this threat?
Initiative Petition 28 is another likely target of the Koch money. This tax measure could bring in as much as $2.5 billion a year, and it is aimed primarily at large corporations. Both sides in this battle claim they have polling favorable to their position. But it’s early, with a large undecided constituency. Standard logic says it’s easier to get a “no” vote from an undecided on a tax measure. So both sides will throw a lot of money at it. Stay tuned.