Posts tagged ‘Trivia’

An Observation on Candidate Quality

As Oregon Republicans meet for the annual Dorchester conference, one key issue has to be reversing Republican losses.

One overlooked factor is candidate quality.

Here is an observation they should bear in mind: The government experience of the last four Republican nominees for governor, at the time they were nominated, is comparable to, and probably below, the government experience of the current four Republican Lane County commissioners at the time they were nominated.

The four Republican nominees for Governor had the following levels of experience:
Kevin Mannix had the most. He had been in the state legislature for a dozen years.
Ron Saxton had been a one-term Portland School Board member.
Neither Chris Dudley nor Bill Sizemore had any significant government experienced when they were nominees.

The four Republican Lane County commissioners had the following levels of experience:
Sid Leiken had been Mayor of Springfield for nearly a dozen years.
Pat Farr had one term as a state representative, a decade on the Eugene City Council, and, to top it off, had been a school board member before that. Farr gets at least a tie.
Jay Bozievich had been a one-term community college board member.
Faye Stewart had had no major elected office.

The Lane County commissioners are definitely comparable to the Republican nominees.

The point of this point is not so much to extol the virtues of the Lane County commissioners, but to point out the relative weakness of recent Republican nominees. The discussion of rebranding misses at least part of the point. The Republican gubernatorial nominees need to have done something to place on their resume or Oregonians won’t vote for them.

One has to go back at least to 1956 with Robert Holmes to find a Democratic nominee with as little experience as Mannix. One has to go back to 1948 with Lew Wallace or 1946 with Carl Donaugh to find a Democratic nominee for Governor with clearly less experience.

The question remains. Why do Republicans in heavily Democratic Lane County appear to have access to an equivalent, or better, talent pool for county commissioner than the statewide Republican Party does for governor?


Eugene – The Bedrock of Statewide Republicans Wins?

There is an interesting piece of trivia amidst all the Republican futility in statewide races.

The only Republican nominees to win statewide races the first time out, no previous statewide races and not an incumbent, in the last 35 years were Dave Frohnmayer in 1980 and Jack Roberts in 1994. Both were from Eugene and Rubicon members.

The time a last Republican from the Tri-County area (Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties) won a statewide partisan race the first time out was in 1968 (Bob Packwood and Lee Johnson)!

There is actually a pretty good strategic reason why the “Berkeley of Oregon” has been so comparatively successful since the 1960s minting statewide Republican nominees. However, that’s for another post.

This post updates the earlier “Quarter Century Study.” For example, please see:

Source: Oregon Secretary of State.

Full disclosure: Rick Lindholm ran the Jack Roberts campaign in 1994.

More trivia and some historical footnotes: The November 2010 Election Variety

Following a mini tradition … here is more Oregon Election trivia.

First, John Kitzhaber, if elected, would be the first three-term Governor in Oregon history. The closest in recent years was Tom McCall’s loss in the three-way 1978 Republican Primary, to then soon-to-be Governor Vic Atiyeh.

In fact, two-term Democratic Governors are rare. Before Kitzhaber’s win in 1998, the last Democratic Governor to win re-election was George Chamberlain in 1906 and the last to serve two complete terms, Chamberlain left office to become U. S. Senator, was Sylvester Pennoyer in 1890 running as a Democrat and as a Populist.

Second, months ago this blog pointed out that Chris Dudley, if elected, would be the first Governor since Charles Sprague in 1938 without elective office experience. This actually indicates a bigger issue among Republican nominees. There has been a dramatic drop in their quality since 1996.

Taking 1996 as the dividing point …

From 1956 through 1996, the forty years prior:
Incumbent: 4 (1956, 1962, 1970, 1982)
and then current or previous … Statewide Officeholder: 4 (1958, 1966, 1986, 1990)
Member of Congress: 1 (1994)
Caucus Leader: 2 (1974, 1978)

All ten were prominent political leaders.

Since 1996:
State Legislator: 1 (2002)
School Board Member: 1 (2006)
None: 2 (1998, 2010)

None of the four were prominent political leaders.

If you look at the last three elections for partisan statewide office, 2006, 2008, and 2010, the most politically experienced Republican nominee had one term in the state legislature (Telfer). Ron Maurer ran for the nonpartisan schools office in 2010.

Of course, the next question is why was 1996 a watershed year? Or is it just a trivial observation?

For more trivia see these earlier posts.

Oregon Gubernatorial Election Trivia – Post-Primary

Now, here is some post-primary trivia. See for some pre-primary trivia.

If Chris Dudley is elected Oregon’s Governor, he would be the first person elected Governor who had never held prior elective office since Charles Sprague’s election in 1938 – 72 years ago! Sprague was the Editor of the Salem Statesman-Journal at the time of his election.

The same point would have also held for Allen Alley, had he become the Republican nominee. Only John Lim, among the four major Republican candidates in the Primary, had held an elective office previously.

Before Sprague’s feat and since 1900, two attorneys, Oswald West in 1910 and Julius Meier in 1930, were elected without prior elective experience. However, both had shared law offices with prominent politicians and were their designated successors.

Experience has been important to voters outside of Oregon as well. Even in the somewhat wilder politics of California, few governors has been elected without previous statewide elective experience. There have only been two exceptions: Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. ( Both ran as anti-establishment outsiders. That piece of trivia, does bode well for Dudley.

Gubernatorial Nominee Trivia – Primary Election Day May 18, 2010

As we wait for the election results tonight, here are a couple bits of trivia to tide you over.

They all follow the theme that Portland is not really the center of Oregon’s political talent universe.

First, the Democrats … tonight’s results, regardless of whether Bill Bradbury or John Kitzhaber becomes the Democratic nominee for Governor, will mean the fifth straight time a Democrat nominated for Governor served his state legislative or local office in Eugene or its region (TV DMA or Congressional District, take your pick).

In fact, this will make ten of the past twelve Democratic nominees coming from the Eugene region. Of course, this is not counting Neil Goldschmidt who graduated from what is now South Eugene High School before becoming Mayor of Portland. Barbara Roberts was the one Democratic nominee with no obvious Eugene connections.(1)

Second, on the Republican side, there is a point the emphasizes futility. Portland Republicans have not been successful recently … taking the term “recently” to mean nearly a generation!

Allen Alley, Chris Dudley, John Lim, and Bill Sizemore are all from the Portland area. The last time an Oregon Republican from Portland won a statewide election was in 1992: Bob Packwood’s re-election. All three Oregon Republican statewide wins since 1992 were from non-Portland Republicans.(2)

This combination of Eugene success for Democrats and Portland futility for Republicans appears not to bode well for the GOP this November, in spite of current Republican optimism. But, then, it’s only trivia. The voters really decide on Oregon’s next Governor. (3)

(1) The series of Democratic nominees for Governor consists of: Ted Kulongoski: 1982, 2002, and 2006; Kitzhaber: 1994 and 1998; Roberts: 1990; Goldschmidt: 1986; Bob Straub: 1966, 1970, 1974, and 1978. Straub was a Lane County Commissioner first elected in 1954. Of course, Kitzhaber is another South Eugene High School grad and Bradbury worked at Eugene’s KVAL.

(2) The last time a non-incumbent Oregon Republican from Portland won a statewide contest was 1978 (Vic Atiyeh for Governor). Republicans who have won as challengers or won open seats since 1978 are: Dave Frohnmayer in 1980; Jack Roberts in 1994; and Gordon Smith in 1996 (with re-election in 2002). Frohnmayer and Roberts are both from Eugene. Smith is from Pendleton.

(3) Regarding trivia, no Democratic challenger won statewide office from 1966 to 2006. That long Democratic drought didn’t make Gordon Smith invulnerable in 2008.  Trivia, often, is trivial.