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The 2006 Democratic Campaign for the Oregon House: A New Kind of Campaign. A New Direction for Oregon.

Our State Legislature, once admired for its bold initiative and innovative thinking, has sadly become one of the most notoriously dysfunctional institutions in Oregon. To most Oregonians, the Oregon Legislature simply doesn't matter anymore.

Republicans have been in control of the Oregon House for 16 years. What do they have to show for it? Record rural unemployment. Record number of Oregonians without health care. Record number of children going hungry. Record class sizes in our schools. Record number of corporations paying only $10 in taxes while the rest of us carry the load.

Republican leaders are busy playing partisan games and making deals with powerful special interests.

Isn't it time for a Legislature we can believe in again?
Isn't it time for a Legislature that matters again?
Isn't it time for the Legislature to serve us and not the special interests?

Today, the Oregon House Democrats are launching a new type of campaign to bring new direction to the Oregon Legislature. Earlier this year, the Oregon House Democrats became the first legislative caucus in the nation to host its own blog. Now we are going to bring that commitment to open government and direct citizen interaction to our campaign to take back the Oregon House. This election, the Oregon House Democrats are going to do something that few campaigns ever do: Listen.

Here's what you can expect from the Oregon House Democrats during the upcoming election:

-We will listen to you.
-We will ask for your input on issues and campaign strategy.
-We will provide you with details on our issues and positions - not just political spin.
-We will introduce you to our legislators and candidates.
-We will arm you with detailed information you need to take the Democratic message into your community.
-You will be given an inside look at the campaign to take back the Oregon House!

All we ask of you is to help us in four simple ways:

-If you have an idea, send it to us. There are no bad ideas in this statewide effort.
-When we ask for your advice, please give it to us.
-Volunteer your time for a Democratic candidate for the Oregon House.
-Donate early, donate often. Every dollar helps take back the Oregon House.

The most important thing you can do? Spread the word. Please forward this message, and future messages, to everyone you know.

Our State Legislature can still make a positive difference in the lives of Oregonians. It is still possible for our elected officials to provide real leadership. We can solve the real problems facing our State. With a new Democratic majority in the Oregon House the most powerful special interests in Salem will be our families, our kids and our seniors.

Together, we can make a difference for Oregon.

October 18, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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Permalink: The 2006 Democratic Campaign for the Oregon House: A New Kind of Campaign. A New Direction for Oregon.


Gomer, you need to worry about your own party and its lack of focus before you start targeting (running your mouth) about others.

Posted by: Henry | Oct 18, 2005 7:41:25 PM


Thanks for making the first response a perfect example of the nonsensical politics-by-tantrum that we are going to put an end to in Oregon.

We have absolutely no doubt about our focus--we're going to invest in education, go after cost and access to health care to benefit every family and business in our state, and bring people together again. We're going to invite ideas, debates and discussions of every possible idea for progress, because progress is what we're all about. So you can sit on the sidelines or join in, it's your choice, but we're moving forward.

Posted by: Rep. Peter Buckley | Oct 18, 2005 10:18:21 PM

With all due respect to Jonathan Poisner's well written opinion piece in this morning's Oregonian, I continue to see notable gap in the caucus's platform in the area of environment.

Most Democrats and many Republicans understand that strong environmental safeguards are absolutely necessary to maintain the natural infrastructure (clear waters, abundant wildlife, old-growth forests, clean air, etc)that made Oregon such a special place to live.

Unfortunately, our state level environmental acheivements were the work of previous generations, many of them from the other party. As the GOP has now decided they wish to be the anti-environmental party, it's up to the Dems to articulate a new far-sighted conservation vision and to ensure the vision makes it into law. Until now, the party (due in large part to its concerns with maintaining control through the acquisition of the rare rural Democratic seat) been content to beat back the worst of the GOP initiatives while supporting the only slightly less odius bills in an effort to attract GOP votes on education, labor or social service votes. By doing so, the party has contributed to the degradation of the very assets that attract new businesses and talent to our communties.

I don't want to lay it all on the House, as a minority, your options were severely constrained. The "leadership" on the Senate side deserves much of the discredit.

How we take back the House, and maintain control of the Governor's office and Senate without the support of the majority of Oregonians who want their water, forests and wildlife protected is beyond me. Hopefully, the party will take substantive steps in the off-season to attract and motivate that segment of their base. If not, we're in for Speaker Minnis and President Ferrioli.

If that doesn't provide some Halloween frights, nothing will.

Posted by: Jerry | Oct 21, 2005 12:48:27 PM

Put sixty citizens in a room together -- thirty Democrats, thirty independent/third party, no politicians or lobbyists, just normal working voters who have lived in Oregon for a while now -- and ask them to write a tax system from scratch. See if they can reach some kind of consensus. Don't push for a specific result: the goal is to find a system that would appeal to average voters, not idealogues or special interests.

Why sixty? Because the group needs to be small enough to be manageable, but large enough to reflect a fair cross-section of active Deomcratic and non-affiliated voters in a given House District.

Don't worry about actual numbers: ask them what they think a fair, reasonable, balanced tax system should look like as a general principle. Get answers to some other general questions: should Oregon strive for the lowest tax burden in the nation, or the highest, or second quintile, or squarely in the middle (26th highest tax burden of 50 states)? How should the tax burden fall between poor, middle class and wealthy? Between individuals and corporations? Flat taxes or progressive taxes? What sort of exemptions and deductions should there be? Should we have (or not have) income tax, property tax, sales tax, gross receipts tax, specific excise taxes? What rates are fair?

Everything's on the table. Pretend there are no constitutional, traditional, or political impediments. Just try to come up with a system that the sixty of you (or 40 of 60, or 45 of 60) can agree is fair, and that you would support.

Do this in every legislative district: sixty groups of sixty voters. That produces 60 general proposals from a pool of 3600 citizens.

My guess: you'll find enough commonality from these proposals to draft a top-to-bottom holistic rewrite of Oregon's tax code that will appeal to Democrats and independents across the state. (You don't include Republicans because you aren't trying to appeal to Republicans: they won't vote for you anyway.) This could become the basis of a "Democrat tax reform plan" that Democrats across Oregon could run on in 2006 or (more likely) 2008.

Posted by: djk | Oct 28, 2005 12:12:45 PM

There's your partisionship there in action. Djk says not to attempt to communicate with rebuplican votes because they won't vote for you anyways. In response I would say, as a Democrat who has voted a few times indeed for certain Rebuplicans because at times I like what they *say* and *how* they have said it *to me*, that there are also centrist Republicans. Your loss truly. Stick to your guns, your ideals, but talk to *everyone*.

Posted by: pdxkona | Nov 5, 2005 1:45:09 PM

I think Doug's (djk) idea is great. However, I agree with pdxkona that you might as well try to get a full sample of the population so the reform has some stability through political changes. That's the thing, both parties are killing themselves by letting taxes be determined by ballot measures.

I have taken numerous college economics courses on taxes and as I'm sure we all know, although the tax itself may be simple, determining how it affects all people and circumstances is complicated.

We do ourselves no favors by having a tax system that both parties admit is broken with poorly planned patches. In the end, special interests see that weakness and take advantage of it. If we were confident our system was fair, we could tell the special interests that this is the system we have agreed to, so no special deals for you. Right now, we have a situation where even the legislators know it's not fair, so everyone (corporations, property owners, etc.) are negotiating their own deal which compounds the problem of fairness.

16 years was certainly long enough for the R's to try to fix it. Now it's time to see what the D's can do.

Posted by: Peter Graven | Nov 9, 2005 9:10:31 AM

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