OK, we know that as the incumbent, Gov. Ted Kulongoski is practically entitled to a bid to keep his office. And according to his campaign finance reports filed Monday, he’s really the only Democrat with the war chest to be a serious contender. But that doesn’t mean we have to like him.
The great thing about primaries is that they can be a chance to send a message to the party about where your true values lie. The message Democrats should be sending to Kulongoski right now is, “Ted, be more like Jim Hill.”
What Oregon desperately needs right now is a strong leader, someone who is willing to stand up for what the state needs, not just what voters think they want. As governor, Jim Hill would be that leader. Hill has the guts to stand up and say what Oregonians need to hear, even if it’s not what they want to hear.
Hill is willing to say that corporations should bear their fair share of the tax burden, that our education system is in dire straits, that Measure 37 is just plain bad for Oregon and that all Oregonians deserve access to affordable healthcare.
Hill also has clear ideas about how to turn Oregon around. He has a proven track record as state treasurer of reasonable ideas for economic development in Oregon and sound strategies for investing in education.
Hill’s message to Kulongoski seems to be, stop talking about all of our state’s problems and start doing something about them. A message the governor really needs to hear. A vote for Hill on May 16 would help send that message.
When will Oregon Republicans learn? Our education system is facing multi-million dollar budget shortfalls, our state healthcare system is cutting thousands from its rolls, and our prisons are packed full. But every election the state GOP serves up candidates with the same refrain: cut, cut, cut.
This might come off as sound policy east of the Cascades, but they seem to forget that to the vast majority of Oregon moderates, these guys come off as total fiscal wackjobs, completely ignorant of the tough choices many of our public programs are already facing. Bill Sizemore? Kevin Mannix? Is that really the best we can do?
Ron Saxton might have been an also-ran in 2002, but given a chance this year he could be a serious contender.
A former Portland School Board chair, Saxton has some street cred that could help him connect with more centrist voters. Also, his lack of state government experience could actually be an advantage. With a general sense that there needs to be a shake-up in Salem, as a political outsider Saxton has no ties to the status quo.
Saxton sticks to the Republican ideals of fewer taxes and less spending, but remains reasonable about problems currently facing Oregon, like our failing schools and overcrowded prisons. He’s willing to acknowledge that these are problems that require some fiscal investment, he just wants to invest in them efficiently.
Mannix is just too far to the right for Oregon, and State Senator Jason Atkinson’s priorities are in the wrong places.
Saxton could provide the leadership Oregon needs while still connecting to the whole state.