Gov. John Kitzhaber speaks to the City Club of Portland Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, in Portland, Ore.
Rick Bowmer/AP

‘It was not the Republicans’ night’ … in Oregon

Updated
The Republicans’ victories last week were unambiguous. The GOP won big in every part of the country, up and down the ballot. There were some isolated progressive success stories, but not many.
 
And then, there’s Oregon. This report from the Oregonian, published the day after the elections, helps capture the state’s results, which stand out as quite unique given the success Republicans had nationwide.
Oregon Democrats, especially in the Senate, virtually ran the table Tuesday night, clearing the way for an ambitious agenda heavy on environmental and income-equality issues in the 2015 legislative session.
 
With one race still too close to call, Democrats surprised most analysts by pushing their majority in the Senate to at least 17-to-12.
As it turns out, Oregon Dems expanded their majority in the state Senate to an 18-12 majority, and at the same time, added to their majority in the state House, where Democrats now have a 35-25 majority.
 
Also last week, Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) was re-elected to an unprecedented fourth term, while Sen. Jeff Merkley (D), whom Republicans saw as potentially vulnerable, won by nearly 19 points.
 
And for good measure, Oregon voters endorsed marijuana legalization, too.
 
Jim Moore, a political science professor at Pacific University, told the Oregonian, “It was not the Republicans’ night.”
 
Clearly not, though what makes this so interesting is that it most certainly was the Republicans’ night nearly everywhere else.
 
Locals can speak with far greater authority than I can about why Dems thrived in the state, even while struggling elsewhere, but I’d note that voter turnout reached 69.5% in Oregon this year, which is nearly double the turnout among Americans nationwide.
 
As a general rule in recent years, the more voters participate in their democracy, the more Republicans lose. The GOP hasn’t committed itself to a systemic voter-suppression campaign for nothing.
 
As for what the strong Democratic majority in Oregon tends to do with its governing authority, an agenda is taking shape.
First up, said Moore and others, will be legislation addressing regulations pertaining to coal trains moving through the state. Also on tap are likely to be issues such as carbon taxes, clean-fuels development, alternative energy efforts and the retirement-security program being looked at by state Treasurer Ted Wheeler.
 
“I know some people are also looking at a statewide sick leave policy,” said Rep. Val Hoyle, D-Eugene, the House majority leader. Still others, she added, support “the potential for revenue reform for the state’s education system.”
The report quoted a local lobbyist who said “access to education, income inequality and care aimed more at lower-income levels” will also likely get attention from state policymakers.
 
In other words, it’ll be roughly the opposite of what the public can expect from Congress and most state legislatures.
 

Midterm Elections 2014 and Oregon

'It was not the Republicans' night' ... in Oregon

Updated