Vote Early, Vote Often

The Oregon Legislature fizzled to a halt as expected. Now the real fun starts. You think paid sick leave for workers and carbon emission standards will not exact a price at the ballot box in 2016? The lack of compromise and the partisan fights over a transportation package and the minimum wage now spill over into the next initiative season, and it’s going to be an expensive ride. 

Democrats will seek more reasonable corporate taxation for schools and public services and an increase in the minimum wage. Republicans will press for more “right-to-work” initiatives to curb the bargaining power of public sector unions, riding the tide of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential aspirations. 

The Oregon donnybrook officially broke out less than 48 hours after the session adjourned sine die on July 6. On July 7, House Democrat and Republican caucuses held their leadership elections for the 2016 legislative and campaign cycle. Mike McLane was re-elected as House minority leader. As part of the process, Val Hoyle announced that she was stepping down from her position as Democratic majority leader to pursue a run at secretary of state. 

That’s logical, because you really can’t be both a caucus leader, whose principle duty in the campaign season is fundraising, and a statewide political candidate, whose principle duty in the campaign is to win. Val made the right choice. 

The next day, Monica Wehby’s new website, MonicaPAC, bragged: “Rep. Val Hoyle Steps Down as House Majority Leader under Pressure from MonicaPAC.” Val had no idea MonicaPAC cared so deeply about House Democratic leadership issues. But MonicaPAC insists that through its “next generation political outreach programs” it “delivered its call to key influence leaders around the state.”

Actually, MonicaPAC delivered its message by sending out an expensive hit piece on Val to the other 89 legislators in the 2015 session. Where did Monica get the money to hire consultants and put out hit pieces, and why is she operating these days out of Creswell?

You remember Monica Wehby, right? Millionaire surgeon stalker — imagine Art Robinson on estrogen therapy. Anyway, Monica is the new darling of the Right. She has become the Oregon version of Sarah Palin, acting as a pass-through for soft campaign money from wealthy national Republican donors. 

The New York Times recently reported that “soft” campaign money is being raised at a record clip again, and that $12 million of the $13 million raised so far has been by the Republicans. The Times also reported that the Koch brothers have self-identified an $890 million budget for 2016. That’s just one war chest! 

Other familiar names, like hedge fund millionaire Robert Mercer, the guy who stealthily invested a half million in Art Robinson’s first campaign against Peter DeFazio, have already signed checks to national war chests.

MonicaPAC is managed by Creswell Republican consultant Jacob Daniels. He used to work for Jason Conger, who unsuccessfully ran against Wehby in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. At the time, Daniels so disdained Wehby that he said he’d vote for the Democrat (Merkley) if Wehby won the primary. Now he works for her. Time and money apparently heal all wounds. 

And MonicaPAC is just one example of what you’ll see in the 2016 ballot measure and election cycle. Follow the money. Then you might understand why a failed millionaire U.S. Senate candidate is spending $170,000 of someone else’s money trying recall a Democratic leader because she earned $1,800 a month as a caucus leader. By the way, Jacob Daniels also has a PAC. It’s called Public Integrity. Seriously?

I applaud Val’s look at the secretary of state seat. If Diane Rosenbaum chooses to run for labor commissioner, that would leave Sen. Richard Devlin and Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian as potential Democratic candidates in that primary. And maybe Sid Leiken in the general election. I believe women statewide would make Val a favorite in both the primary and the general election.

The governor’s race is harder to handicap right now because we don’t really know who the Republican candidate will be. Bud Pierce, a Salem physician and former head of the Oregon Medical Association, is running. Pierce has not run for public office before. Another announced candidate, Allen Alley, has run before. He ran unsuccessfully for state treasurer in 2008 and governor in 2010. Stay tuned.

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