Just Vote, Dammit!

I see all 19 loyal readers of this senile soliloquy heeded my request last column to quickly register to vote in the May 17 Oregon primary. In fact, between new motor voters and locals who switched parties to vote in closed primaries, the R-G reported that 12,000 Lane County residents received two ballots in the mail! 

Back when I was in the Oregon Senate, I once urged readers of my column to “vote early and vote often.” A constituent filed a complaint with the secretary of state — seriously. My defense was to blame it all on the “Chicago party machine” tactics I learned from two Illinois political advisors and troublemakers, Joy Marshall and Mo Smith. These days it appears the county clerk is promoting that strategy! My, my, how voters’ rights have changed.

What a campaign season! If you had predicted last May that Donald Trump would only spend $9 million of other people’s money (he loaned himself $36 million) and be the presumptive Republican presidential candidate before our primary, or that Bernie Sanders could crowd-fund and spend $180 million before our primary, I would’ve told you to lower your dosage of sativa and switch to indica. And I would’ve promised to come visit you weekly at that nice new hospital in Junction City.

I ignored my own advice from last column about going over to the dark side and switching parties. I stuck with the Dems and voted for Bernie Sanders, just to send Hillary Clinton the message that her Walmart/Wall Street ties and Bernie’s message on income inequality both resonated with me. More importantly, it allowed me to vote in the most important race in this primary, the Oregon secretary of state race. 

I voted for Val Hoyle. She got local endorsements from EW and the R-G, which wasn’t a big shock. But Willamette Week wrote an excellent endorsement of Val that excoriated her opponent, Brad Avakian, for his negative and misleading campaign. “Avakian is so eager to win he has exaggerated the duties the Oregon Constitution established for the secretary of state, pledging to punish polluters, audit private companies and police workplace pay equality at state agencies … pledging to be all things to all people in a cynical attempt to seduce uninformed voters. It’s irresponsible.” Well written. 

Speaking of endorsements, we can all say sayonara to Sid Leiken’s upward political mobility. Even the R-G endorsed Sid’s opponent, Dennis Richardson. 

Just for shits and giggles, I interviewed Peter DeFazio’s “opponent” in the 4th Congressional district primary, Joseph McKinney. I told him up front I was a longtime friend and supporter of Peter’s. Being Irish, we met at a bar. He immediately asked that our conversation be “off-the-record.” I’m honoring his request; he had nothing to say anyway. 

At one point McKinney even denied he was running against Peter, although he later admitted he had filed after concluding Peter could not be hurt. He denied having any motive for running other than to “set an example,” as he wrote in his EW piece. But he had no suggestions regarding campaign finance reform or removing the current members from “offices now held by attorneys who dominate the political class” as he’d written. (He couldn’t name the occupation of a single member of the Lane County legislative delegation.) 

Puzzling: Is this a speechless candidate who’s not running against his opponent, or a used car salesman on West 6th who has turned sour on EmX? Any guesses?

The last Oregon primary held on May 17 was in 1994, my 45th birthday. It was the first time I ran for elected office. True story: I was so insecure and convinced I’d lose that I packed up Jeannie and Simon on the 18th and we headed for a vacation in Key West, Florida.

I’d worked my ass off, as had so many progressive friends. But the daily polling results I was getting from people I trusted showed me narrowly losing the race. It spooked me. In fact the race was so close it wasn’t called for four days. I beat the guy by a hundred and some votes. 

That was 22 years ago. I never heard from him again. In fact, I had three Democrat and four Republican opponents in my political career, and I never heard from any one of them after those races. 

Oh well, as Pancho Sancho once said: Joke ’em if they can’t take a fuck!