I haven't been to many election night get-togethers in my life. Here comes another one. Laurel and I are about to leave for the Marion County Democratic Party, um, party at the Grand Ballroom in downtown Salem. We relished a Measure 49 victory back in 2007 there. Hopefully tonight will bring similarly good progressive electoral news.
But whether or not Chuck Bennett wins the race for Salem Mayor, and Measure 24-292 passes (an effort to reform the county charter that would enlarge the Board of Commissioners from three to five, make the members non-partisan, and elect them by district), I'll be applauding those who put in the time and effort to make a difference politically.
On both sides, really. I wish elections were more like sporting events. People take significant football games, like a national championship, really seriously. Fans pay a lot of money to attend the event, dress up in team colors, then yell and scream in support of their favored team for hours.
Then...half of the crowd is going to leave disappointed. Almost always, though, they exit the stadium shoulder to shoulder, getting along fine, maybe even with fans of the winning team extending a "good game" or "your guys played hard" to the other side. This shows that taking a competition seriously can co-exist with warm-hearted sportsmanship.
Politics in this country usually is a different sort of game, unfortunately. I can't picture advocates for opposing candidates or ballot measures sitting in the same room and watching the results come in (though from a Blue Oregon report it looks like this happens in Lane County; if so, good for the R's and D's down there).
So we'll soon be with like-minded folks, going through some ups and downs as the vote numbers filter in after eight o'clock. I'll add an update to this post when we get back tonight, sharing how up and how down I am with the election results so far.
[Midnight update: Yeah, ups and downs. The crowd at the Grand Ballroom was disappointed that Chuck Bennett lost the Salem mayor's race and Measure 24-292 was voted down -- after being outspent three to one and out-lied by a much larger proportion.
People were talking about the Marion County District Attorney, Walt Beglau, facing an elections law violation after he made demonstrably false statements in a No On Measure 24-292 letter. There's winning fair, and there's winning through falsehoods.
The sleazy campaign run by the current county commissioners and the Salem Chamber of Commerce has energized efforts to replace Patti Milne and Sam Brentano, who led the lie-fest that caused lots of voters to check "no" on the ballot. I talked with someone who said that quite a few people he knew were confused by the District Attorney letter, which was filled with half-truths, untruths, and outright lies.
On the national level, things turned out great for Democrats. The special election in Pennsylvania to fill Rep John Murtha's seat was won by a Dem. Even Fox News got it right:
Mark Critz, a longtime aide the late Rep. John Murtha, edged Republican candidate Tim Burns in a special election Tuesday to take his boss's old seat. Many political handicappers viewed the race as a bellwether for the mood of the electorate and a preview of how the midterm elections could go this fall.
Guess people in Pennsylvania aren't so upset about health care reform and Obama's supposedly socialist policies after all.
And I'm suspecting that Democrats will continue to do well here in Oregon in the fall general election. Watching John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley comment on their primary wins on the 11 o'clock news, Kitzhaber looked like the adult in the room -- which, as he said, is who Oregonians want to lead their state, not a complete newcomer to politics.]