Oregonians voted for people and issues, not party lines

Article author: 
Dick Hughes, Statesman Journal
Article publisher: 
Statesman Journal
Article date: 
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
Article Body: 

Last week's election gave me hope for Oregon.

Not because of the overall results. They were unsurprising.

Rather, I am heartened that thousands of Oregonians voted for individuals and issues, instead of along straight party lines.

If you look at county-by-county election results, you'll see vast differences. For example, Marion and Polk counties voted for Republican Dennis Richardson for governor but Democrat Jeff Merkley for U.S. senator.

Measure 88, which would have made driver cards available to undocumented Oregonians, passed in only one county — Multnomah — and lost overwhelmingly statewide. Meanwhile, Measure 89, the state Equal Rights Amendment, was approved statewide amid support in Northwest, Southwest, Central and Northeast Oregon counties. Measure 90, the open or "top-two" primary, lost in every county.

As for Measure 91, legalizing marijuana, Polk and Marion counties voted against it but it passed statewide. Its support was in the Portland metro area, the coast, and Lane, Deschutes and Jackson counties. The measure barely failed in Josephine County.

I worry about what legalization will mean for Oregon.

But I am reassured that Oregonians displayed individuality and independence on Tuesday.

Other thoughts:

• This election season produced some of the worst-run campaigns I've witnessed.

One was Republican Monica Wehby's ill-fated attempt to unseat the liberal's liberal, Jeff Merkley.

Every candidate, especially a challenger, should learn from Wehby's mistakes:

1. Hire top-notch campaign staff. My sense is that staffers and consultants who understand Oregon do better than outsiders.

2. Know the issues before you even consider running. Wehby displayed a stunning unfamiliarity with most state and federal matters, which was a key reason that the Statesman Journal Editorial Board endorsed Rep. Jason Conger over her in the Republican primary.

3. Have a solid — non-plagiarized — plan for what you would do if elected. That plan must be understandable, significant and pragmatic. Give voters good reasons to vote for you. Opposition to the opponent is an insufficient reason.

4. Practice debating; master the art of debate and of back-and-forth politics, instead of taking criticisms personally. Both Kitzhaber and Richardson generally impressed me in this regard.

5. Expect your personal life to become public, so know your flaws and skeletons and reveal them before your opponent and the media do.

6. Respect the opponent. Set that standard for your campaign staff and volunteers.

By the way, the Merkley campaign's incessant attacks on Wehby bugged the heck out of me. One Merkley aide was even texting me on weekends to complain about Wehby.

• Some pro-Measure 88 campaigners looked down on the opponents, and it showed. The pro campaign got outwitted and outworked. The opponents had dug far deeper into the potential impacts of the driver cards.

• As with other journalists I know, I am basically a-political. I registered with a political party simply so I could vote in primary elections. I cannot afford to get invested in the outcomes, because my job is to deal with whichever side prevails.

So it was surprising to get a nasty, accusatory post-election email from a campaign consultant who's been around long enough that he should know better: Losing one's temper is not the optimum way of building credibility.

Which brings me to this tip, which is suitable for non-election consumption as well: Never put anything in an email that you wouldn't want to see on a billboard.

Or in a newspaper.

More information

To view statewide and county-by-county election results, go to oregonvotes.gov/results/2014G/index.html.