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With the NV-02 and NY-09 Elections Done, We Need to Turn Our Attention to OR-01

From the diaries by Neil

This past Tuesday was a good week for Republicans and conservatives. We sent bona fide conservative Mark Amodei to Congress in Nevada’s 9th District, and wrested from the Democrats a district in the heart of New York City by pushing Bob Turner to victory in New York’s 9th. NV-02 was a Republican leaning district, and we won there in dominating fashion by 21 points. NY-09, meanwhile, was a stunning upset in a district that hasn’t sent a Republican to Congress since Warren Harding was President (a feat which I hope to write more about very soon, time pending).

It feels good, doesn’t it?

However, as tempting as it may be to sit here and rest upon our laurels, there is still work that needs to be done. The special elections for Congress are not yet over. With the ones in NV-01 and NY-09 finished, we must now turn our attention to the special election going on in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District.

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The story about this vacancy is one we probably all remember: David Wu, its former occupant known in recent years for erratic behavior, resigned after deciding to become the fifth Asian Tiger or (something like that). With him gone, people are lining up to take his place. At last count, there are eight Democrats and five Republicans seeking the seat. The frontrunners for the Democratic nomination are Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici, and state Rep. Brad Witt. Meanwhile, there is one major Republican seeking the seat, businessman Rob Cornilles, who is the frontrunner on his side mostly because he sought the seat as the party’s candidate back during the 2010 elections. The primary elections will be held on November 8th, 2011, and the special election will be held on January 31, 2012.

OR1
A map of Oregon’s 1st District.

Though the two are far from identical, there are many parallels between Oregon’s 1st district and New York’s 9th district. Both of these seats’ occupants, Weiner and Wu, resigned under the cloud of scandal. Additionbally, both of these districts are in the same range as far as median income is concerned–with OR-01 having a small edge $48,464 to $45,426–making both generally middle class and white collar districts. Both districts are predominantly white, albeit OR-01 moreso than NY-09, and both districts are largely urban (or in the case of NY-09, entirely urban). Both districts also lean toward the Democratic Party, with OR-01 at D+5 on the Cook PVI and NY-09 at D+5.

As I hinted at before, the two are not entirely similar. OR-01, for example, doesn’t have the large Jewish population or the historic Italian or Irish populations, either. Instead of deep-rooted historic communities, this is one of the districts that benefitted from the tech boom–both Intel and Techtronix are headqurtered here, for example. This place also seems to be a hotbed for foot and athletic wear, as Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, and Nike are all headquartered here.  There also It lacks the kinds of “quirks” embedded in NY-09’s historic communities that made it economically liberal, yet socially conservative. In the past, OR-01 has been known for sending moderate Republicans to Congress. However, starting in the 1970s, it has gone consistently Democratic as the nouveau riche of the day and yuppies began to move into the district and make it the suburban-to-urban place it is from the farmland it used to be. More information on the general character and history of this district can be found over at its page in the National Journal’s Almanac of American Politics.

With all of that basic information out of the way, it’s time to discuss what’s really important in this district: what are Republican’s chances in this district, and how can we win here?

As I said earlier, even if it isn’t a safe Democratic district, Oregon’s 1st district lacks the economically-liberal, socially conservative bent of New York’s 9th. This district is moderate/centrist at best. As the National Journal’s Almanac page for the district points out, this district is prime territory for a New England Republican, as in Scott Brown and Chris Shays types. We shouldn’t expect an Allen West, Jim Jordan, or Steve King to win here, and even if one did, he wouldn’t last too long.

The frontrunner for this race is probably businessman Rob Cornilles of Tualatin, a suburb of Portland. He’s the frontrunner, and the best known name on the Republican side, mainly because he was David Wu’s opponent in 2010 (just like Bob Turner was Weiner’s opponent in 2010, actually). I’m no expert on him or the other Republicans running, but an inspection of his website and its issues page makes it look like he’s up to snuff for us. There’s no outspoken rhetoric here, but his positions on the issues are the typical low-key tone center-right ones that can sell in this district if his campaign is run well enough (think Bob Turner or Scott Brown). He does not appear to have any major scandals or baggage attached to him, but this might be problematic–though I doubt it will ruin him.

You can view Cornilles announcement of his candidacy at his Youtube channel here.

The other Republicans in this race, per the earlier article are:

  • Lisa Michaels of Beaverton, “a former legislative candidate and GOP activist who has her own cable television access show.”
  • Delinda Morgan of Gaston, who is a member of International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 701.
  • Jim Greenfield of Tigard, a real estate adviser.
  • Pavel Goberman of Beaverton, a retiree and fitness expert. (Honestly, this guy is like OR-01’s version of Basil Marceaux, though in Goberman’s defense, he is a Russian immigrant and not a native English speaker).

Of these, Lisa Michaels is the mostly probably “dark horse”. She has the benefit of having a cable television access talk show, so her name is probably familiar to at least some people in her district. Also, given the nature of her profession, she is probably fairly good at communicating her views. Still, Cornilles is the Republican to beat in the race. It’s worthy of note, though, that all of these people, other than Cornilles, are of the serial candidate variety. In case it isn’t obvious already, I’m backing Cornilles in this race, and in all likelihood, he’ll be the nominee regardless.

As far as the kind of campaigning that will have to be done, given the political leanings of the district, it is likely that whichever Republican gets the nomination will do his best to establish himself as an “independent voice” for OR-01. The kind of campaigning done here will resemble what was done in Scott Brown’s campaign or most recent by Bob Turner in New York. The national party may put some money in, but since this seat is predisposed to elect a Democrat, it is likely that such contributions will be minimal, both because of the uphill battle and to help the candidate himself maintain an image of independence. The candidate will probably get some Tea Party support, but expect the candidate to trumpet the endorsement of whichever local officials and newspapers get behind him especially loudly to emphasize the fact that he has local support (such as this press release on Cornilles’ website).

The task we face in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District is a formidable one, to say the least, but as past results in places like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York have demonstrated, it is definitely not out of reach. The dissatisfaction with Obama can run deeper than mere party lines. We can win this if we work hard, run a good campaign, and get the word out about our guy. This is the next congressional special elections battle we need to fight

So, stop by Rob Cornilles website and give some money if you can. If you don’t like Cornilles, feel free to give money to the candidate of your choice and to make his or her case to us.

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