It’s been a hoot to be out and about in the last few weeks and seeing friends again after two years. Open heart surgery and geezer arthritis have slowed me down a bit, but as the Irish say: It’s better to be seen than viewed.
I even attended a fundraiser at a “nonpartisan” political event. Now you may ask: What the hell is that? It’s an event where you’re required to substitute the words “Progressive” for “Democrat” and “Let’s Go, Brandon” for “Republican” candidates.
It’s also forbidden to release morbid partisan statistics at these events, so I couldn’t share my recent New York Times stat that COVID death rates nationwide have been much higher in counties that voted for Donald Trump than those that voted for Joe Biden.
Voters decided that the Lane County commissioner race should be nonpartisan years ago. Apparently, nobody told the candidates or the donors.
I was privileged to speak in support of County Commissioner Heather Buch at a recent house party. I am a constituent and admire her efforts on behalf of working families, rural public safety, the county’s homelessness issue and her deft handling of the Holiday Farm fire event: 450 homes up in smoke.
I also thanked Biden and Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, and the Lane County commissioners for each deciding to hold the primary this year on my birthday! I reflected on how it had been 28 years since their predecessors had similarly honored me in 1994, when I first ran for office. Not many Democrats survived the Newt Gingrich assault that year. And that was way before COVID and Citizens United. Expect a similar attack this year.
Off-presidential election years always require more work on voter turnout, especially the primary. This year should be especially fun because of all the open seats — governor, the 4th and 5th Congressional Districts and the new 6th U.S. congressional seat. It appears we have more candidates than registered voters.
There are 15 Democrats and 19 Republicans running in their primaries for governor, and one rich independent (Betsy Johnson) who will likely face the winners in the general election. It’s going to be a three-way race. Remember 1990 when Barbara Roberts snuck past Dave Frohnmayer 46 percent to 40 percent after third party candidate Al Mobley stole 13 percent for the anti-gay Oregon Citizens’ Alliance? Johnson is no Al Mobley, but she has been a pro-choice, pro-gun DINO who will draw votes away from the Democrats this time.
Former Speaker Tina Kotek and Treasurer Tobias Read lead the Democratic pack. I’ll support the winner in that primary. Because guess who’s running to defeat Republican Christine Drazen in her primary — our old butthole union haters Bill Sizemore and Bob Tiernan! They’re upset that a wife-swapper is running in their primary. I say “Let’s Go, Stan Pulliam!”
My good friend Peter DeFazio leaves a large body of work for his successor with his decision not to run again for Congress. This 4th Congressional District is still a tough district for a Democrat in these skittish times. DeFazio has been there since 1987. There are eight Democrats in the primary. DeFazio has already announced his endorsement: Val Hoyle. She is the most qualified Democrat in the field, having been elected and served in the Oregon House and as majority leader and run for statewide office twice, winning the district by double digits both times, once in a primary and once to statewide office as labor commissioner.
Five of the other Democratic candidates for the 4th district won’t even get enough votes to share an Uber unicycle. And of the remaining two, both are carpetbagging dilettantes who have never been elected to anything.
Dull Canning tried to beat DeFazio in the last primary in 2020; she got 15 percent of the vote. And Andrew “Harvard” Kalloch is a real piece of work. He’s a corporate lawyer/shill for Airbnb whose campaign is funded by East Coast corporate/gig economy executives. He and his wife were an Oregon Business “Power Couple” recently. Just because he went to Harvard Law with Joseph Kennedy III doesn’t mean shit. He’s never run for anything in any state on either coast. His campaign mailing address is still in Portland!
There were folks who suspected he was going to try to run against DeFazio back in 2020, but then Canning decided to run. And there were folks who suspected he would run against Peter this time around because of Kalloch’s nasty Register-Guard editorial piece calling out DeFazio for “succumbing to cathartic and unprofessional outbursts.” This was before DeFazio announced his retirement. GMAFB! As a 25-year constituent, I personally always liked it when Peter spoke truth to power.
Republican Alek Skarlatos is running again as their sole primary candidate, and Trump money is flowing in. DeFazio has very good reasons for endorsing and supporting Val Hoyle: She has the best chance of retaining the seat for a progressive voice. She fits the district. Who better would know? After all, DeFazio is one of the founders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.The other was Bernie Sanders. ν
[Personal Note: I want to send my condolences to Anita and the Johnson family and the Eugene Weekly family for the loss of their loved one, Art Johnson. Art is in my heart forever for two things: His reminiscing about the United Farmworkers Union hero Dolores Huerta and the San Francisco police of the late ’60s, and also the awesome airplane ride he took me on at the end of his flying days a few years ago. The ride over to Newport, then down to Coos Bay and then over the Cascades topped off with a great lunch back at Mahlon Sweet Airport with Art and his co-pilot, another nice guy. A great man, and a great family. Secondly, dear readers — all five of you who are still left — this will be my final column as the elder idiot responsible for both “Insider Baseball” and the “Hot Air Society” diatribes which the Weekly irresponsibly printed. I take no responsibility for what the Weekly printed: You know I know who to blame!
Thank you, Anita and Ted and Camilla for giving me the opportunity to vent my spleen. Thank you, readers, for all your comments over the years.We’ve shared many chuckles.]
Tony Corcoran of Cottage Grove is a former state senator and a retired state employee. He has twice been a columnist for Eugene Weekly with his “Insider Baseball” and “Hot Air Society” columns.