Tags: John Kitzhaber

A Slightly Better Outlook for Oregon Republicans, but Not Enough Yet


Here’s the slightly good news for Dennis Richardson, the Republican candidate for governor in Oregon: The latest poll by YouGov puts him down, 48 percent to 42 percent, to incumbent Democrat John Kitzhaber. That’s a bit better than the last one, which had him down 49 percent to 42 percent.

Here’s the news that could cut either way: So far in this vote-by-mail state, only a tiny fraction of ballots have been returned: “As of Friday, 9.6 percent of the ballots statewide had been returned, with Wasco County leading the pack at just over 16 percent.”

There’s been a surge of voter registration this year, mostly among college students. At first glance, that’s not good news for a Republican candidate, but young voters may be not as warm to the Democratic party as expected:

A big part of the increase came in a voter registration drive spearheaded by the Oregon Student Association, which claimed to register 55,000 students around the state. Officials involved in registration drives during the summer and early fall had said that many of their registrants were shying away from registering with the major parties.

Remember that Survey USA asked the 60 percent of the sample paying close attention to the governor’s election and who are following news stories about the scandals surrounding First Lady Cylvia Hayes, and found that 18 percent of those respondents agreed, “I was going to vote for Kitzhaber but now I will vote for Richardson.” Only 1 percent “were going to vote for Richardson but now will vote for Kitzhaber.” In other words, there is some segment of the electorate that is upset enough with Kitzhaber to vote for the GOP’s Richardson — and SurveyUSA characterized those respondents as “disproportionately young, male, independent, liberals.”

In Survey USA’s sample, 856 respondents were registered to vote and 407 were paying attention to both the campaign for governor and the Hayes scandals. Eighteen percent of that sample 407 is 73.26, so let’s assume 73 people. That 73 people out of the 856 registered voters suggests that 8 percent of registered voters are switching.

At this point, the evidence suggest the Hayes scandals are going to make this race closer — but it’s far from clear it will be enough to put Richardson over the top.

Tags: Oregon , Dennis Richardson , John Kitzhaber

There’s Good News for Oregon Republicans, but Not That Good News


Your friendly neighborhood Oregon-trotting campaign correspondent, in a piece written Tuesday night:

Could Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, a three-term Democrat, lose his bid for reelection because of scandals involving his fiancée? After Kitzhaber survived a cavalcade of embarrassing and expensive failures of state government, could he lose to Republican Dennis Richardson because of the Oregon first lady’s consulting business?

A new Survey USA poll, released Wednesday:

With each passing hour bringing new revelations about Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s fiance, Cylvia Hayes, KATU-TV and SurveyUSA attempt here to break the Oregon electorate into 4 quadrants. The question asked of voters paying close attention to the governor’s election and who are following news stories about Hayes, was this:

Which of the following best describes you?

38% were going to vote for Kitzhaber and will still vote for Kitzhaber.

37% were going to vote for Richardson and will still vote for Richardson.

18% were going to vote for Kitzhaber but now will vote for Richardson (disproportionately young, male, independent, liberals).

1% were going to vote for Richardson but now will vote for Kitzhaber.

6% overall, and, importantly, 9% of Democrats, are not sure what to do.

As the pollsters note, it is possible this poll reflects people saying they’re going to switch to Richardson, to express their disapproval of the Kitzhaber scandals, but that they won’t actually carry through with it. And importantly, the above numbers do not reflect the results of their entire sample, just the sub-sample of registered voters paying close attention:

SurveyUSA interviewed 950 Oregon adults 10/20/14 and 10/21/14. Of the adults, 856 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 60% (514 voters) are paying a lot of attention to the race for Governor. Of those paying attention, 79% (407 voters) are following stories about the fiance, Hayes. The poll’s essential question was asked just of the 407 qualified respondents. This may or may not directly overlap the universe of Oregon’s likely voters in 2014.

Remember, Oregon is a vote-by-mail state, so the definition of a “likely voter” in Oregon should be broader than in other states.

Dave Weigel scoffs at the notion that the first lady’s scandals could cost Kitzhaber reelection when voters yawned at Cover Oregon. He’s partially right in the sense that this is still a deeply Democratic state, and Kitzhaber’s head-to-head numbers against Richardson have been way better than his job-approval numbers. But the crunchy, progressive, quinoa-microbrew Oregon voters might have been able to explain away the Cover Oregon debacle as well-meaning incompetence. Oregon’s first lady, Cylvia Hayes, doing well-paid consulting work for groups with business before the state gives off a whiff of corruption, which probably strikes a significant number of voters as a different, and more serious, governing sin.

Kitzhaber is still the favorite, but Oregonians’ patience with him is clearly being tested, and there’s a deep vein of pent-up frustration for Richardson to tap.

Tags: Oregon , John Kitzhaber , Dennis Richardson

How Do You Turn a Blue State Like Oregon Purple?


From the Monday edition of the Morning Jolt:

How Do You Turn a Blue State Like Oregon Purple?

If you want to talk about an overlooked all-time woulda-coulda-shoulda race that haunts the Republicans, let’s take a look at Oregon’s gubernatorial election in 2010.

The Democratic nominee was former governor John Kitzhaber, making a comeback bid after serving as in the office from 1995 to 2003. During those terms he fought with a Republican-held state legislature and famously declared, six days before the end of his second term, that the state was “ungovernable.”

The Republican nominee was former NBA star Chris Dudley, who spent a good portion of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers. He founded a charity, had charisma, and seemed like about as a good a candidate as Oregon Republicans had any right to expect.

The good news is Dudley won 694,287 votes, more than 100,000 votes than the last Republican gubernatorial candidate. That got him . . . 47.7 percent to Kitzhaber’s 49.2 percent — the closest any Republican had come in the last seven gubernatorial elections.

But there are no silver medals for coming in second in a governor’s race. Dudley moved to San Diego. In his third term, Kitzhaber went on to set up the abominably wasteful Cover Oregon system, which paid $305 million to Oracle for a web site that didn’t work.

Cover Oregon is, arguably, the single most expensive and most embarrassing failure of any state in recent memory. As HBO’s John Oliver mocked, “That has got to be a bitter pill to swallow for the people of Oregon — or it would be, if they could get the pill, which they can’t, because their [stinky] web site is broken.” In midsummer, a poll of the state found 20 percent thought Kitzhaber deserved “all” of the blame for Cover Oregon, 19 percent said “most,” and 37 percent said “some.”

But not a single big-name Oregon Democrat dared challenge Kitzhaber this year. Okay, correction — a guy with a big name, “Ifeanyichukwu Diru” challenged him, but he had no experience and almost no money. Even then, he won 9 percent against Kitzhaber in the primary.

This year, aiming to derail Kitzhaber’s ambitions for a fourth term — Republicans are running a candidate with no glamorous NBA career, 65-year-old state representative Dennis Richardson — a veteran and successful lawyer.

One poll had Richardson within 7 percentage points, but another one shows him trailing mightily — 50 percent for Kitzhaber, just 29 percent for Richardson. Note this depressing statistic:

The poll found that voters in general aren’t paying much attention to this election.

66 percent of respondents couldn’t name the Republican candidate for Governor, Dennis Richardson. And 59 percent couldn’t name the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Monica Wehby.

Governor John Kitzhaber did a little better; 62 percent could name him as the Democratic candidate for governor, but 38 percent couldn’t. Senator Merkley was recognized by 46 percent as his party’s candidate.

As I mentioned Friday, this is an example of “Set It and Forget It Leftism.” Dear Oregonians, I get it. Your state is gorgeous. If I had one of the world’s biggest bookstores, huge farmers’ markets, endless chefs experimenting with all kinds of local produce and seafood, an exploding menagerie of breweries, wineries, distilleries, and seemingly limitless mountains and rivers to explore, I might not be that interested in politics, either. But come on. Check in every once in a while.

The last time a Republican won a statewide race in Oregon was 2002 — Senator Gordon Smith. It is a depressing possibility that the GOP either cannot win, or faces enormous obstacles to win in the higher-turnout circumstances that occur when a state allows citizens to vote by mail. Oregon went to a complete vote-by-mail system in 1998, after growing use throughout the 1980s and 1990s.


A ballot box in downtown Portland’s Pioneer Square.

Like most other states, Oregon consists of heavily Democratic cities and heavily Republican rural areas. Check out how the Kitzhaber-Dudley vote split by county:


The northwestern corner is Astoria, the three blue ones in a line are Portland, its suburbs, and Hood River; along the coast is Lincoln County, which has Newport; and Lane County, which includes Eugene and Springfield. The little wedge sticking down from the north is Hood River County, which is not heavily populated and not quite heavily Democratic; in 2010, Kitzhaber won, 4,778 to 3,414. Once you drive out of Portland, on U.S. Route 30, it takes you up into the mountains overlooking the Columbia River, and RICHARDSON FOR GOVERNOR signs aren’t hard to find on the front lawns along the road. Signs for Kitzhaber are rare.

There are 3.8 million people in Oregon; 2.3 million live in the Portland metro area. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to win Oregon if you’re going to get blown out in Multnomah County, which includes Portland. In 2010, Kitzhaber won 198,157 votes here to Dudley’s 76,915 — 70 percent to 27 percent — rolling up a 121,242 vote margin. Kitzhaber’s final statewide margin of victory was 22,238.

Back in September, Richardson got a bit of help in advertising downtown:

The eye-catching, building-sized campaign ads have popped up across the Portland over the past few weeks.

They’re black and white and get right to the point — at least for those in the know:

“The bridge?
The website?
Rudy Crew?
The Elliott?
4 more years???”

The minimalistic message cost $200,000 and was a gift to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Dennis Richardson from Seneca Sustainable Energy, one of the companies owned by the Eugene-based timber family led by Aaron Jones. His three daughters, co-owners of Seneca, recently contributed a combined $100,000 to Richardson’s campaign against Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber.

That ad referred to a quintet of scandals and missteps by Kitzhaber. A new sign is more direct:

That sign is posted at the extremely busy intersection of Burnside and 4th Avenue, right around the corner from the wildly overhyped and overrated Voodoo Doughnut, perhaps the Mecca of Portland hipsters. Will it do any good? Or will enough progressive-minded Portland residents simply feel sufficiently unenthusiastic about Kitzhaber to not vote for him this year?

Tags: Oregon , John Kitzhaber , Chris Dudley , Dennis Richardson

Oregon and Our Future of ‘Set It and Forget It’ Leftism


From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Oregon: Our Progressive Future of Corrupt Government and Oblivious Voters

Greetings from Portland, Oregon — the state with the most egregiously failing Obamacare exchange in the country, now set to reelect the governor whose administration oversaw that disaster and wasted all that money.

Okay, the CBS News/New York Times poll, conducted from September 20 to October 1, has Governor John Kitzhaber only up by 7 points against Republican Dennis Richardson. So it’s not a rout, and it’s not a slam-dunk. But Kitzhaber’s heavily favored.

Richardson is now focusing heavily on the scandals surrounding Oregon’s “First Lady”, the governor’s fiancée, Cylvia Hayes.

The Oregon Republican Party filed a state ethics complaint on Wednesday naming Gov. John Kitzhaber, his fiancée Cylvia Hayes and his political consultant Patricia McCaig.

It’s the second complaint filed with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission this week naming Kitzhaber and Hayes.

The governor made his own request on Monday, asking the commission for advice on whether the first lady is considered a “public official” and subject to state ethics laws. He also asked for guidance on whether Hayes’ private consulting work conflicted with her role as the first lady and self-described advisor to the governor.

In addition, Hayes admitted in recent days that she married an immigrant as part of a visa-fraud scheme in 1997 and had a role in an illegal marijuana-growing operation around that same time.

Richardson probably has to try to make the most of the stories surrounding Hayes, as it’s undoubtedly the biggest news to come out of the Oregon governor’s mansion in years. But the more salacious aspects probably generate some sympathy for Governor Kitzhaber; his fiancée hid a criminal past from him.

But it seems like relatively small potatoes compared to a state-exchange site that never worked properly, never enrolled a single citizen online (everything had to be done with pen and paper), and cost, oh, $305 million.

And the bad news for Oregon’s attempt at health insurance just keeps piling up.

A Klamath Falls woman who applied for health coverage through Cover Oregon says the insurance exchange mailed her the personal information of other applicants.

Ann Migliaccio told The Associated Press that she received documents last week containing the names and birth dates of two applicants from Hillsboro. She says the documents did not include Social Security numbers.

This is the 18th low-level security breach in the past six months, Cover Oregon officials said. They say the information inadvertently shared in these breaches included addresses, names, dates of birth and internal Cover Oregon IDs, but no Social Security numbers.

And piling up:

More than 12,000 people who purchased policies through Cover Oregon could owe money at tax time because of errors in tax credits issued by the health exchange.

The figure is updated from an estimate of about 800 people that exchange officials shared with the Legislature last month, only to realize they’d got it wrong.

A more recent internal staff estimate released under Oregon Public Records Law found errors in 12,772 policies, or 38 percent of those who received tax credits.

Portland intrigues me. If you are one of those despairing conservatives who think that the United States of America is caught in an inescapable whirlpool of progressive-driven decline, our future is probably going to look something like Portland.

And at first glance — or at least a visit — the progressive utopia of Portland has its upsides. The ludicrously restrictive zoning laws kept farmland close to the city, so there’s always plenty of locally grown food, produce, and so on for the run-amok foodie culture. There’s plenty of green space and parks. (Our old friend Mark Hemingway wrote one of the definitive takedowns of modern Portland.)

But the upshot of Oregon’s failed insurance exchange, and the seeming lack of any lasting public outrage, is the confirmation that a key element of modern progressivism is never, ever, ever getting upset about government spending if it’s done with the right intentions.

What’s revealing is how “progressive” does not necessarily mean “follows politics or news coverage of government at any level.” There’s a lot of “set it and forget it” Leftism going around. Because you would figure that any self-designated True Believer in the Power of Government to Improve People’s Lives would be breathing fire over something like this. Because all Cover Oregon’s debacle did was make a lot of money for Oracle, and whoever got the contract for those silly singing television commercials. Think about it — big, incompetent government, paying a fortune to a big, incompetent or insufficiently-competent corporate contractor, and most of the lefties in Oregon yawn or just shake their head in mild disapproval.

The formula here — a governing class, cozy with certain big, corporate contractors, coupled with a tuned-out electorate that reflexively elects and reelects the proper names from the progressive class — turns representative government into a giant con. The funny thing is that the stereotypical leftist from, say, the 1960s was extremely suspicious of the government, but that suspicion focused upon the military, the “military-industrial complex”, the intelligence agencies, the police . . . the spiritual and ideological children of those 1960s liberals walk around with enormous faith that the government knows what it is doing and it can be trusted with ever-more amounts of tax money.

Isn’t there any suspicion left over for state health and human services and insurance administrators? Any anger to spare for governors remaining oblivious at best to serious problems within their administration?

Some of these folks can summon skepticism about childhood vaccines, but not the Obamacare insurance mandate.

Tags: Oregon , John Kitzhaber , Dennis Richardson , Obamacare

The Worst Exchange in the Country . . . a Reelection Non-Factor?


The governor of the state with the most dysfunctional health insurance exchange in the country remains a strong favorite for reelection.

In Oregon, the state exchange still couldn’t enroll anyone online at the end of December. The state is relying entirely on paper applications and had to hire an additional 400 workers to process them. Some patients scheduled to go on dialysis next month are still waiting for answers from the exchange about what plans are available. The advertising campaign, directing people to the dysfunctional web site, was pulled down after spending $21 million. The exchange’s board extended a deadline by a week, announcing the decision one hour before the deadline. The $178,992-per-year chief information officer, who helped design the $160 million site, resigned for “personal reasons” earlier this month . . . citing the death of her mother-in-law. This CIO lived in Sacramento, California. Rocky King, the state exchange’s director, resigned for “health reasons.” (Hopefully he won’t have to rely on the exchange to get insurance in whatever new job he starts.)

The term “fiasco” and “disaster” are thrown around without dispute. Clearly, this would be a serious problem for the reelection prospects of Governor John Kitzhaber, seeking his fourth (non-consecutive) term, right?


Elizabeth Hovde, columnist for The Oregonian, wrote Sunday that Kitzhaber

is strongly favored to win re-election for good reason: Credible candidates from his own party won’t get in the way, and the last time Kitzhaber ran, he beat former Trail Blazer Chris Dudley — a good Republican option in a state that sees blue. . . . I’m guessing Kitzhaber will be at the helm through 2018, if for no other reason than there will be a “D” next to his name.

Republicans do have two declared candidates, state representative Dennis Richardson and Jon L. Justesen.

If the worst-run, most expensive, most wasteful, over-promised, under-delivered program in the entire nation isn’t enough to get voters to reconsider whether you deserve another term . . . what possibly could?

Tags: Oregon , John Kitzhaber

Running for Reelection, With Massive Failure in the Foreground


Out in Oregon, the state health-insurance exchange, Cover Oregon, continues to set the standard for epic failure for the rest of the country. The website hasn’t worked, does not work today, and isn’t expected to work until after New Year’s Day. State administrators continue to encourage people to use paper; an entire 219 people have signed up for private insurance through the exchange. The state director resigned to go on medical leave. For the quarter ending Sept. 30, Cover Oregon’s information-technology costs were $25 million over budget. The project has cost $140 million so far.

Cover Oregon must rank among the biggest failures of any state-government program in U.S. history.

Naturally, Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, announced he’s running for reelection yesterday, crediting himself with “restoring civility and rebuilding the political center.”

Two Republicans have announced bids for governor: Jon Justesen and state representative Dennis Richardson.

Tags: John Kitzhaber , Oregon

We Can’t Cling to the Past. Now Give Me My Old Job Back.


“We have a ten percent unemployment rate. It doesn’t have to be that way, but we can’t move beyond that by continuing to cling to the past,” declares Oregon Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber, who served as governor from 1995 to 2003.

Tags: John Kitzhaber

Dudley Hits Nothing But a Net Lead of 1 Percentage Point


A Republican leads the gubernatorial race in Oregon? Oregon?

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Oregon finds Republican Chris Dudley with 45% support to former Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber’s 44%. Four percent (4%) like some other candidate in the race, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

I’m tempted to call this race a slam dunk for Chris Dudley, but there’s always the chance that Kitzhaber might try to send him to the foul line.

Tags: Chris Dudley , John Kitzhaber

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