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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Why is Oregon’s progressive governor in a toss-up race?

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My friends and I here in Portland, Oregon like to, perhaps too smugly, congratulate ourselves for living in one of the most progressive states in the country. We consider ourselves lucky to live in a blue state. Many of us have friends and family who live in Trump country and we feel sorry for them. Throughout year and a half of appalling news about what Trump was doing to the country, we were perhaps naively sanguine about the future of Oregon’s remaining a safely 100% Democratic state.

We have two high-profile progressive senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and a governor, Kate Brown, who is generally considered to be the most progressive in the United States.  Only Kate Brown is running for re-election.

Imagine the sinking feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach when I saw the title of this article in HuffPost:

Reading the article did not do anything to reassure me.

Here are a few excerpts:

Kate Brownis easily the most progressive governor in the country. She just signed an executive orderbanning offshore drilling in Oregon. She responded to the Parkland, Florida, shooting by signing a new gun safety law. She signed the nation’s strongest reproductive health law, and when President Donald Trump began targeting undocumented immigrants for deportation, she beefed upOregon’s sanctuary laws.

So you would think, in a year when Democratic voter enthusiasm is through the roof and expected to translate into big wins for the party in November, that someone like Brown would be comfortably coasting to victory in her re-election.

It’s not the case.

Brown has just a slight edgeover her GOP challenger, state legislator Knute Buehler. Despite Oregon being an entirely Democrat-led state, her race has become so tight that Cook Political Report last month shifted its predictionfrom “lean Democrat” to “toss-up.”

A few days ago I was at a Target store and saw Kate Brown’s Republican opponent’s big blue campaign RV. I thought I should take a photo but figured “why bother, Knute Beuhler doesn’t stand a chance” so I didn’t.

Now that the news has come out that race is so close and I find myself writing this I am thinking that had I taken the photo I’d have an original photo to post here. I could have knocked on the door to see if he was inside and gotten a picture. After all, he’d have no way to know that I am a liberal online writer.

In the past few months theGOP decided Knute Buehler had a chance and started funneling money his way, Nike’s founder is backing Buehler while the Oregon based company worked with Brown to advance LGBTQ equality legislation, gave $25,000 to her campaign.

The two most read newspapers in the Portland area are The Oregonian and Willamette Week. The former endorsed Beuhler and the later endorsed Brown. There’s a long debate between the editors of each paper here.

While Buehler is moderate in some ways, for example suporting our status as a sanctuary state, he will set back our state in a big way if he wins.

He is far to right right of Brown in others (from HuffPost)

  • he voted againstthe Reproductive Health Equity Act, one of Brown’s crowning achievements as governor, which enshrined Roe v. Wade into state law.
  • he voted against tighter gun background checks and opposed a bill allowing courts to take weapons from people found to pose an imminent risk of violence
  •  he voted against standards aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  •  hecelebrated Trump’s pardons of Oregon ranchers convicted of arson on federal land in 2015, calling them “good people.”

I live in a senior community facility in the Portland suberbs where 95% of the residents, both Democrats and Republicans, are appalled by the way Trump has taken the country down the road of authoritarianism.

I’ve invited a few of my single friends to come to my place to watch the election returns come in next week so we wouldn’t have to be alone.

We all hoped that there would be cause to celebrate the Democrats winning the House. Most of us were sure our great governer would win. Here’s more about why we are all-in for Kate Brown (from HuffPost):

Brown said she’s ready to keep using her role as governor to push back on Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-environment, anti-LGBTQ policies. She actually has a federal rapid response team in place to respond not to any particular issue, but to the president himself.

“We know when he is in hot water with the press, he is going to do something radical,” she said.

The governor wasted little time responding to Trump’s request in April that governors prepare to deploy National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to beef up security against immigrants. Brown publicly refused.

“Appalling,” she said. “These troops that give their lives for us during wildfire season, hurricanes and in battle should not be used as political pawns to make up for his inability to build a wall.”

While my friends and I tended to be too anxious to be much more than cautiously optimistc about the overall election results, we all thought the governor’s race was a sure thing.

Now the cliche “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” comes to mind. I don’t want to find myself poleaxed in progressive Portland for being so optimistic about Kaye Brown being a shoo-in. .

1 thought on “Why is Oregon’s progressive governor in a toss-up race?”

  1. Kate Brown:

    1. Raised Oregon’s minimum wage significantly across the state, becoming the first in a series of states to help minimum wage workers make ends meet.

    2. Signed the nation’s first law to phase out dirty coal powercompletely while doubling Oregon’s reliance on re-newable energy by 2040.


    3. Made community college affordable for low-income studentsthrough the Oregon Promise, a program that
    helps eligible students attend community college for as low as $50 per semester.
    4. Passed expanded background checksin Oregon to help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
    5. Made Oregon one of the easiest states in the nation to access birth controlby signing laws allowing pharmacists to write birth control prescriptions and requiring insurance coverage for up to a 12 months supply at a time.
    6. Approved paid sick leave for Oregon workersso they can take the time they need to care for themselves or
    family members without losing their paycheck or job.
    7. Bolstered early childhood educationby funding statewide all-day kindergarten for the first time in Oregon.
    8. Passed ethics reforms to restore trust and accountability in state government, becoming the first governor
    to appoint a full time public records attorney, put all public records online, and released over 360,000 pages of public records.
    9. Set the national standard for easy, accessible votingby creating the nation’s first “Motor Voter” automatic
    voter registration program, adding over 222,000 voters to rolls in the first seven months.
    10. Oversaw sweeping protections for transgender studentsso every Oregon student will be accepted and repected no matter their gender identity.
    11. Oregon achieved the lowest unemployment rate on record.
    12. Challenged national lawmakers to take action on gun safetyby calling for a ban on assault rifles and issuing an executive order to aid Oregon police in tracking dangerous weapons.
    13. Banned “gay conversion therapy”in the state of Oregon so that no one is shamed for who they love.
    14. Ended profiling as a law enforcement tacticto build trust and create stronger, safer communities
    15. Strengthened assistance for small businessesthat are the backbone of Oregon’s economy.
    16. Put Oregon on track to improve affordable housingby signing new laws that tackle this critical issue.
    17. Created a new state retirement programso all workers have the opportunity to plan for their retirement.
    18. Launched efforts to build Oregon’s biofuel industry and reduce the use of fossil fuels by passing Oregon’s Clean Fuels law.

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