Ah, the bliss... for a political junkie like me.
At noon today I got to watch Jim Moore, Bill Lunch, and Jeff Mapes speak for an hour about the upcoming November election, focusing on Oregon. They were the kickoff for a series of Salem City Club programs on the election. The Salem Reporter sponsored today's program.
Naturally the programs are going to be held via Zoom, not in-person. I like the usual meetings at the Willamette Heritage Center, but it was nice to not have to drive there. Sitting down at my laptop and logging in to Zoom suits me just fine for now. Here's some key things the speakers said.
Jim Moore. Moore started out with a line about how last year he talked about the Independent Party not doing much of anything. And now they are still not doing anything. That was the last time the Independent Party was mentioned by anyone.
The Democrats could lose their supermajority in the House and Senate, but almost certainly not their majorities. In one of the statewide races, for Secretary of State, Democrat Shemia Fagan has much more money than her Republican opponent, Kim Thatcher. Moore expects Fagan to win, along with incumbent Treasurer Tobias Read and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
Currently Democrats enjoy a 18 to 12 majority in the state Senate. One of the two competitive Senate races is in the Salem area, Republican Denyc Boles versus Democrat Deb Patterson. Boles was appointed to the seat after the death of Jackie Winters.
Democrats have a two point registration edge in Senate District 10, but Boles is the incumbent, albeit unelected. She took part in this year's walkout of Republicans from the legislature, so that could hurt her among those who believe legislators should do their job rather than go on paid vacations during legislative sessions.
The other competitive Senate race is in the south Coast to fill Democrat Arnie Roblan's seat.
In the Oregon House, Democrats have a 38-22 advantage. Moore noted that 38 is a "weird ceiling" that no party has been able to surpass in what I assume is the history of the Oregon legislature.
There are five competitive House races, three currently held by Democrats and two by Republicans. One of those is local, between incumbent Democrat Paul Evans and Republican Selma Pierce.
Bill Lunch. Lunch spoke about Oregon congressional races, along with some national races. Jeff Merkley will have no problem beating his Republican challenger, whose name I hadn't heard of, have forgotten, and don't feel like Googling.
Democrat Peter DeFazio probably will win re-election to his House seat over Republican Alek Skarlatos, one of the men who helped stop a terrorist attack on a European train in 2015. Lunch suspects that Skarlatos is being groomed by the Republican Party to stage a more serious bid for this seat after DeFazio retires.
Just over the Columbia River in Washington state, Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler is in a rematch against Democrat Carolyn Long. Long could win, but national prognosticators call this a Likely-R race.
Democrats need a net gain of three seats to take control of the Senate if Biden wins, four if he doesn't -- since the Vice-President breaks tie votes. Lunch said that the Arizona race between Mark Kelly and Republican Martha McSally looks like it will go to Kelly. In Colorado there's another probable Democrat pick-up, with Hickenlooper favored over Gardner.
Jeff Mapes. Mapes spoke about the four Oregon ballot measures being voted on in November. That's a small number compared to previous elections, since the covid crisis made it difficult to collect signatures.
Measure 108 would increase the cigarette tax by $2 a pack and institute a vaping tax.
It's interesting that the tobacco industry isn't involved with the measure. Mapes thought this could be due to the industry spending $90 million in California in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat a similar measure. Fewer people are smoking, and the tax would help fund health care. So it looks like Measure 108 will have little organized opposition.
Measure 110 would decriminalize drugs like meth, heroin, and cocaine. Offenders would get a non-criminal citation that could be waived if they intend to enter a treatment program. Thus the use of drugs would become a medical problem, not a legal problem. Oregon would be the first state to do this if Measure 110 passes.
The national Drug Policy Alliance sees this a test case for them. Opposition to Measure 110 is less well funded than the support for it.
Mapes didn't mention the psilocybin ballot measure, so I asked about it in the Q&A part of the program. However, I said it was Measure 108 rather than Measure 109, which led to Mapes talking about Measure 107 -- a confusing turn of events.
Since I was focused on trying to figure all this out, I didn't pay as much attention as I should have to what Mapes said about Measure 107, a campaign finance measure referred to voters by the legislature. Basically it allows limits on campaign finances, which now have few limits due to Oregon Supreme Court rulings about free speech, I recall.
Later someone else asked Mapes about Measure 109, the psilocybin measure. He said that if Measure 110 passes, psilocybin would be decriminalized along with other drugs. But this is different from legalizing the use of psilocybin in mental health treatment, so I urge a Yes vote on both Measures 109 and 110, along with the two other measures.
Another questioner asked if the speakers thought the generals would force Trump to leave office, since he is indicating that he won't do this willingly. Moore jumped in with an answer. On January 20, if Biden wins he will become president. At that point the military can't take orders from Trump.
In addition, Moore said that presidential elections in this country take place across fifty states. We don't have a national election. So there is a limit on what federal courts can do to affect the election. He feels that Trump is talking the way he does to fire up his base. So we shouldn't panic about this, just be concerned.
Lastly, a question was asked about coverage of third party candidates, such as those from the Green Party. Mapes answered from a media perspective. His view is that if a third party candidate will have an effect on a race, then it makes sense for the candidate to get media coverage.