Oregon Magazine

Oregon Politics: An Interesting Note About District One   (A general summary containing something new.)

December 27, 2011 -- You all recall David Wu, I suppose.  (The readers who live in northern Oregon, at least.)  U.S. House District One contains the largest suburbs in this rather large (300+  miles on a side) and rather small (maybe a fourth of the people who live in New York City) chunk of North American geography called the Beaver State.  It still has frontier flavor here and there. You would like to have a volcano in your front yard?  There's one in a West Hills park, inside the city limits of Portland, our biggest burg.  David Wu for a long time was the U.S. House of Representatives guy for District One, which begins about two miles west of that volcano.

Right now, a Republican named Rob and a Democrat female whose name I can never remember are trying to fill the vacant Wu seat in an early 2012 election.

The district goes all the way to the Oregon Coast, ending in the same place that Lewis and Clark finished their legendary journey, Astoria, which is the town named after John Jacob Astor, of Early American New York fame.  The district contains hippies, yuppies, commercial and charter fishing boats and loggers like Ken Kesey's wonderful Stampers.  Drive East from Astoria and you find giant coast range Douglas Fir tree farms, a park where the hippies brought down a nuclear-electric facility and various big-river or port operations.  Half the wheat in the NW travels this stretch of the Columbia River, on its way to the world. Then comes the secret golf course for the swells, Pumpkin Ridge, where Tiger Woods won his last amateur tournament, a genuine buffalo ranch, Nike, the computer component companies of the Silicon Forest, the filbert (known outside the state as "hazelnut") orchards and thousands of grain and dairy farms. Just over the hill at this end of this district you'll find the Port of Portland, Macy's, five million miles of spandex bicycle paths, the Portland Trailblazer's basketball stadium, an ancient
baseball stadium where Elvis Presley rocked the house on his first national tour and the theater where Buddy Holly and the Crickets shook the rafters with Peggy Sue.

The actual nanny-state state

When combined with nearby Portland, the eastern-most section of District One  generates 90% of the really good paying jobs (but, not as many as during the terrible Bush Era, when the state UER was a great deal lower),
and generates the vast majority of the votes cast in Oregon.  As with other American urban areas, this urban-suburban segment is liberal-land.  Head south past Salem (the capitol) and Eugene (home of the U of O Duck football team) and until recently you couldn't find a conservative until you got to Grant's Pass. (Just a narrow strip of them, though, because down there, you are getting close to California, which from San Francisco to Hollywood is a socialist stewpot.)

Yet, of late, something seems to be happening, hereabouts.  Something new.  Perhaps I'm wrong, here.  The evidence is not from blaring trumpets and banging drums.  But, there may be change in the rainy Oregon air.

Now, few people know (or probably care) that I registered to vote in the southern Oregon coastal town of Coos Bay (at one time the largest lumber shipping port in the world) in October of 1963 -- and, as a Democrat.  At the time, it was not legal for anybody with any Irish blood to register as a Republican hereabouts or in Chicago.  And, there were other traditions involved.  After the Civil War, the odds against winning a statewide or local election in Oregon were astronomical if you weren't a Democrat.  (The K.K.K. would see to that.  You didn't know that most racists were Democrats?  You didn't know that the people who fought to make Oregon a slave-state in 1859 were Democrats?  If you grew up here, it isn't your fault.  Your public schools, here, omit facts like that from their textbooks and classes.)

So, since unlike Reagan, I never switched to a more conservative party when mine was taken over by the socialists, this means I still get mail from the Oregon Democrat Party.  Here's an example:                          



Did you see the results from the special primary in Oregon's First Congressional District?  I was a bit surprised that despite a registration edge of over 50,000 individuals, Democratic voters turned out at a rate of only 43%, trailing just behind Republican voters.  Larry, if we want to ensure that we elect a Democrat on January 31st -- a champion for the middle class, small businesses, and our most vulnerable citizens -- then we've got to do better than that.

I hope you'll take advantage of Oregon's Political Tax Credit and give $50 today to help us ensure that come January, we can turn out those Democratic voters like never before.

Remember, give by December 31st ($50 per individual or $100 per couple filing jointly) to ensure that you get your credit back at tax time. Thank you for helping us start 2012 right: by keeping Oregon blue!

Meredith Wood Smith
Chair, Democratic Party of Oregon


Turnout numbers can be an indicator of passion. That's what caught my attention.

I often wonder if I should tell them (the Democrats) that I'm no longer one, except in terms of registration. You'd think they'd know from reading the magazine, but then I doubt if we have many Oregon Democrat leader readers.  Liberals take one look at this publication and then run screaming away, looking for all the world like one of those comic book covers that shows space monsters invading a large city.  And, if you're talking about Oregon "republicans," well, they come in two types.  Some of them live West of the volcanic mountain range known as the Cascades.  Almost all of these differ from your average West Coast liberal only because they wear a tie.

If you're looking for Oregon conservatives, you'll find them in cowboy land, east of the mountains, not in the Willamette Valley.

How to be a journalistic outcast in Oregon  

Now, it is something of a miracle that this publication will generate so many visits this, or any, month of the year.  Right now (just looked), for example, the number just went over 50,000 for December.  That's about average. The top number we ever got was 89,755.  It's not bad for a publication in Oregon that tells its readers that from President Obama to Crazy David of District One, with every non-Tea Party type vote they cast, they are slowly dragging a Bowie knife blade across their own throats.

I probably should tell the Oregon Democrat Party who Larry Leonard actually is, but then I would no longer receive mail like that piece above, which as I read it clearly implies that the electorate of this state is not as liberally (Progressive, socialist, etc.) aligned as it has been for most of my life.  District One -- the home of big trees that loggers love to turn into lumber used to build homes, may be entering times that Bob Dylan would describe as "changing."

If that is what's going on hereabouts, I have a hunch that it's the kind of change that Ken Kesey's Hank Stamper would approve. Maybe that last scene in the Paul Newman movie, Sometimes A Great Notion, is somehow prophetic.

A high five minus four to the collectivists.  What a wonderful thought that is.


Postscript 12/28:  The day after I wrote this piece, the holiday replacement host for Neil Cavuto had Rob Cornilles, the First District Republican candidate on FOX.  (His Democrat opponent seems to be named something like Suzy Bonadventure.)  Rob handled the stress of a national audience with calm and even a professional grace.  He could do television.  I already knew of the Democrat commercials claiming his business success was a fraud.  I do not know if the charge has even the shadow of merit, but my starting point with all Democrat political advertising is that not once in fifty years have I seen one that was anything but misleading, and (2) having been at one time an ad agency creative director who never lost a political contest that came into that agency, including a state presidential primary race, the only political weapon Democrats (and RINOs) fear is one that is made of the truth.  Perhaps Mr. Cornilles knows that.  If he does and can convince his advertising people to use that principle, powerful opponents can be crushed.  I know this because I wrote the key political piece for the man who took out the Tiger of the Senate, Oregon's legendary Wayne Morse.

Present conclusion:  The special election here takes place near the end of this month.  If you aren't one of Oregon's legion of socialists, do what you can to help Rob, the Republican.  At the very least, you won't help the enemy by reducing the Republican hold on the U.S. House of Representatives.  He may not be a true conservative.  He may be a typical Oregon Republican.  I just don't know at this point.  What I do know is that the current Republican House majority is all that is keeping your country from descending into an European economic Hell.

Original text © 2011 Oregon Magazine