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The Liftoff: Redistricting meltdown? Plus, crowded ballots in 2022 and David Sedaris on Portland
PLUS: Updates on the race for Governor, Schrader back in headlines, Biden's wardrobe, David Sedaris on Portland, and Oregonians' pessimism on big issues.
Welcome to another installment of The Liftoff!
There is a lot to cover this week, so we’ll jump right in!
1. Redistricting conflict spills into public; what happens next?
This could be a wild week, as negotiations broke down on the Redistricting committees and conflict spilled into public view.
House and Senate Democrats have jointly released three updated maps (one for state house boundaries, one for state senate boundaries, and one for congressional boundaries). But—according to The Oregonian, Republican Leader Christine Drazan told them “her caucus is united in its opposition” to the Dems’ maps. She also indicated that Oregon’s congressional delegation somehow “locked down” the proposed congressional boundaries. This claim was met with strong pushback from Senate Redistricting Committee Chair Sen. Kathleen Taylor. Speaker Tina Kotek went so far as to say to OPB: “Apparently Leader Drazan will say anything to distract from her failure to successfully engage in this negotiation.”
So, what happens next? There are more open questions than answers.
The special session convenes Monday with a deadline of September 27 to complete their work. Theoretically, if the Democrats are united, they have the votes to pass the maps out of the Senate—but an equal number of Republican votes on the House Redistricting Committee present a challenge to House Democrats. Will they bypass the committee and pull the bills directly to the floor? How will Democrats who’ve been pushed into new, less favorable districts vote? Will Republicans boycott or walk out, as Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (co-chair of the House Redistricting Committee) indicated was possible? Will protracted negotiations extend the session right up to the deadline? Stay tuned.
But, even if the legislature approves new maps, legal challenges could stretch to early February.
Meanwhile, the Capitol will be open to the public. But—legislators will not have access to their offices (they are being encouraged to work from Salem-area hotels) and legislative staff are being encouraged not to attend the Special Session. As a backdrop, COVID-19 is raging in Marion County. This is all highly unusual, the result of a perfect storm of pandemic restrictions and planned construction.
2. #ORGOV: Kotek’s big week; Kristof inches closer; Barton joins The Bridge
Speaker Tina Kotek had a big week. She won a major early endorsement from the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council. As reported by The Albany Democrat-Herald: “The council is the umbrella group for 37 unions whose more than 25,000 members include electricians, steamfitters, plumbers, elevator installers and other construction-related workers.” This is a big deal for Kotek. The endorsement, which was not a foregone conclusion, comes before most potential candidates have decided whether they’re running or not.
Kotek reported a dizzying list of campaign contribution’s from a who’s who in Oregon politics and government, including almost two dozen current and former state legislators, former Multnomah County Chair Bev Stein, former Chief of Staff to Gov. Kate Brown Brian Shipley, former Director of OHA Dr. Bruce Goldberg, and former Oregon Chief Education Officer Nancy Golden. She has over $220,000 on hand.
Finally, alongside Governor Brown, Kotek was put on blast by WW for Sen. Art Robinson’s decision to use his district’s share of federal relief dollars on a crisis pregnancy center. Here’s the headline: “Democratic Leaders Allowed an Oregon Lawmaker to Earmark $4 Million in Public Money for an Anti-Abortion Group.” In response, Kotek was not only defended by legislators endorsing her campaign (Rep. Julie Fahey called the article “spin” and “a little bizarre”; Rep. Rachel Prusak called it “twisted spin and harmful reporting”), but by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, a coveted endorsement in the 2022 primary.
Meanwhile, Nick Kristof earned a glowing write up in The New Republic from big-time Oregon Democratic donor Win McCormack, who also owns the magazine. The article has been updated to indicate that McCormack’s wife, Carol Butler, a powerful political consultant, is “overseeing staffing up [Kristof’s] possible campaign.” Butler has worked for many successful Democratic candidates, including Gov. Brown, Senator Ron Wyden, and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. In another piece, Vanity Fair ran wrote about Kristof that quotes anonymous staffers at the New York Times.
On the GOP side, Bridget Barton joined The Oregon Bridge for a conversation about her vision for the future of Oregon. The discussion veers from personal (with Barton discussing her personal experience with addiction) to political (why she thinks Ballot Measure 110, which decriminalized drugs, is ready to be overturned). Barton is currently leading the pack in cash on hand among Republicans. Check it out on Apple, Spotify, and Audible.
3. Sign of the times: Pessimism abounds about our ability to solve big problems
The Oregon Values and Beliefs Center shared this graphic with us that demonstrates how pervasive the sense of pessimism and even hopelessness is among Oregonians. About half of Oregonians think there is only a “small chance” that we can solve climate change, wildfires, and homelessness. About one in five think there is “not a chance.”
4. Schrader back in national headlines
Congressman Kurt Schrader earned state and national press last week for being one of three House Democrats to vote against a provision of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal that would allow the government to negotiate prescription drug prices. Left-wing publication Jacobin called him one “Big Pharma’s Favorite Democrats”, noting that Pfizer’s PAC is his third-largest career donor and that his former Chief of Staff Paul Gage now lobbies for PhRMA. Senator Bernie Sanders slammed Schrader and his two colleagues for not supporting the legislation.
Schrader defended himself to OPB, saying he has introduced his own drug pricing bill that he believes has a better chance of passing the senate—and that campaign contributions do not impact his vote. He also seemed to indicate opposition to Biden’s broader infrastructure plan, with OPB reporting that “he can’t back a plan that continues spending at the rate Biden and Democratic leadership have proposed.”
Schrader’s actions sparked condemnation from State Reps. Andrea Salinas and Rachel Prusak, with Prusak writing: “As a nurse of 20+ serving vulnerable community members, this makes me sick,” referencing Schrader’s inheritance from his grandfather who was a Pfizer executive and the large donations he’s received from big pharma during his tenure in Congress.
5. Portland metro area is going to have a crowded ballot in 2022 (and it’s still early!)
After a storied career in the environmental movement and Oregon politics, Metro Councilor Bob Stacey is resigning from his position on October 15 to focus on treating a brain tumor. Stacey served as Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s Chief of Staff, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, and top leadership positions for TriMet and the City of Portland. He nearly became Metro Council President but narrowly lost to Tom Hughes, who said this about the news: “Bob is all of the things you hate in a competitor and love in a colleague.” His colleagues will appoint a successor.
Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran is jumping into the race for Multnomah County Chair, joining her colleague, Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson (as predicted by WW’s Nigel Jaquiss). Governor Kate Brown’s adviser on Equity and Racial Justice (and formerly on housing), Shannon Singleton, is also running. Rumor is that Commissioner Lori Stegmann will jump in, too.
Ashton Simpson, who ran a late campaign as the Working Families Party nominee against the embattled then-Rep. Diego Hernandez, is running to succeed Shirley Craddick on the Metro Council (she is term-limited). He has already earned the endorsement of a dozen elected officials and community leaders.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s race looks like it will be competitive and historic; the Portland Tribune reports that it is “the first contested race for sheriff in more than a decade and pits the first female second-in-command against the first Black male candidate.” Undersheriff Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell and Captain Derrick Peterson have both announced they’re running.
6. David Sedaris on Portland
On Friday night, author and humorist David Sedaris returned to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (which required proof of vaccination at the door and masks on for the entire show). Many of his jokes were about uncomfortable subjects: the decline of his father’s health, he and his siblings’ childhood abuse, death of family members, and, occasionally, politics. One of the biggest laughs of the night came with the punchline “Dick Cheney.” Read it for yourself in The New Yorker.
After his readings, he was asked by an audience member: “What do you think about Portland?”
His response: “I wish you had more homeless people.” He followed it up with, “This has always seemed like a national training center for panhandlers.” The audience roared. Sedaris spent some time in his post-college years in Hood River and said he loved Oregon. “I always thought one day I would live in Portland, it just never happened,” he said, then paused. “But if I ever lose everything…”
Now, for some positive news from Portland:
“Portland City Council to consider new downtown clean up program contract” which would include “a first-ever mental health outreach team” from The Portland Tribune
7. Columbia Sportswear supports Biden mandate; Tim Boyle visits White House
Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle supports the Biden Administration vaccination mandate on large private-sector employers, which will affect over 2,000 Oregon businesses. Boyle was one of the business leaders invited to speak with the President last week, and Columbia was included in Biden’s opening remarks (listed right after Disney, Microsoft, and Walgreen’s).
According to Boyle, the President thanked him for Columbia’s products and shared that he wore Columbia gear on his recent trip to Louisiana.
Boyle is a booster for People for Portland, who recently had their budget ($1.5 million for seven months) and political strategy presentation leaked to WW.
Meanwhile, according to The O, Dutch Brothers is now bigger than Columbia: “Dutch Bros now has a market capitalization of roughly $7.9 billion – $1.2 billion more than Columbia Sportswear.”
8. News round-up from across the state
Oregon coast vacation rentals could be phased out in parts of unincorporated Lincoln County (the county includes Lincoln City, Newport, Waldport, and Yachats).
More from Yamhill County: the Newberg School Board was called out by the Oregon State Board of Education, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, and Treasurer Tobias Read
NASA tested their space suits in Oregon, from this cool OPB story: “Researchers tested spacesuits at Lava Butte, Big Obsidian Lava Flow, Fort Rock, Hole in the Ground and the lava flow at the top of McKenzie Pass — just like the astronauts from the Apollo Mission did decades back. But this time, they also went to new locations like the Pumice Slope at Crater Lake National Park, the Painted Hills and Skylight Cave near Sisters.”
Senator Lynn Findley of Malheur County avoids a recall, but his detractors say they will oppose him in his next election (2024)
Measure 110 is reducing the amount of money cities receive from cannabis sales by millions; the League of Oregon Cities and Association of Oregon Counties are concerned
After weeks of advocacy, not very many Afghan refugees are coming to Oregon after all. Oregon is expected to receive 180 Afghan evacuees, according to Axios. Washington will receive 1,700 and California will receive 5,300. Even Idaho will receive double the number of refugees as Oregon with 420 expected.
From The New York Times: “Nabisco Workers End Weekslong Strike After Reaching New Contract”
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