Sunday, April 05, 2015

Oregon Democrats Looking For A Primary Challenger For Blue Dog Kurt Schrader



Because most of the more senior Blue Dogs in Congress have been defeated and their caucus utterly decimated in recent electoral cycles, relatively inexperienced Oregon conservative Kurt Schrader has become the chairman of this motley branch of the Republican Wing of the Democratic Party. This week environmental activist Andy Kerr, writing for BlueOregon, demonstrates the danger for the Democratic Party in electing and supporting garbage candidates like Schrader, who hollow out the party's core values from the inside. "I'm sick of incumbent nominal Democratic Members of Congress who often vote like Republicans on the tough issues," he begins, and then asks, "Is it worth it to continue to back a Democratic incumbent, after having cast their first vote each Congress for a Democratic speaker, who then promptly goes south on some key issues during the rest of the Congress?" He doesn't think it's worth it.
In 1980, a young activist on senior issues decided-- before the word was coined-- to “primary” the Democratic incumbent in Oregon’s third congressional district. Had the coalition been formed at that point, then incumbent Rep. Robert Duncan would have been a very blue dog.

When Wyden first stepped up, we went to lunch at a very unnatural red pagoda palace off NE Sandy and discussed the Oregon’s natural environment. At that point, Wyden’s views on and interest in wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, old-growth forests were neither deeply held nor well-developed, but he was willing to learn. Most importantly, Ron Wyden wasn’t Bob Duncan.

It turned out that a lot of people and interests-- more than myself and public lands conservation-- were dissatisfied voters and interests in the Oregon’s 3rd. The rest is history. Wyden turned out to not just be less bad on the environment than Duncan, but a true champion for nature.

Blue Dog Coalition co-chair Rep. Kurt Schrader joined with my congressperson, Rep. Greg Walden, to pass legislation in the House that would have effectively privatized over a million acres of federal public forestlands in western Oregon to facilitate industrial-strength clearcuts-- just like Oregon’s private timberlands. As a former aide to the last Republican US Senator from Oregon told me, “we would not have even allowed ourselves to even dream such a thing.” Fortunately, in the Senate Wyden wouldn’t aid and abet the Schrader-Walden public land giveaway.

The New York Times recently reported that only two other Democratic Members of Congress voted with the Republicans more than Schrader. Oregon Democrats can do better.

While the Oregon’s 3rd of 1980 and the Oregon 5th of 2016 are different in time, place and registration edge, perhaps there are lessons to apply. Given the increasing inability of Republicans to offer viable candidates for federal office, a left-of-center (hell, make that merely a center) Democrat might well be able to defeat a right-of-center Democrat in the Oregon’s 5th primary-- and most importantly go on to win the general election. It’s certainly worth pondering and polling.

If a credible Democratic challenger steps up to take on Schrader, while I can’t vote for them (oh, only if Ashland could be made a disjunct island of any other Oregon congressional district but the 2nd), I will max out contribution-wise and urge my friends and allies to do the same.
Kerr needs to find someone like Alex Law-- someone just like Alex Law. Law is running against conservative Dem and anti-environment extremist Donald Norcross in New Jersey. Blue America has endorsed him and it is likely Blue America would get behind any credible progressive running against Schrader as well. Schrader, who voted with the GOP to remove President Obama from the Keystone XL decision-making process, gets terrible grades from the very mainstream League of Conservation Voters. All other Oregon Members of Congress have stellar records on the environment. Schrader, as with most things, is doing what he does best: giving Boehner the right to call his extremist agenda "bipartisan."

Recently Schrader met with the Statesman Journal Editorial Board and exposed the underlying politics that help explain why he's more a Republican than a Democrat. "Our state is extremely unfriendly to business, and we're getting worse," he said. "The book on Oregon is still the same: Oregon is a great place to start a business. It's not a great place to keep a business going."

He goes on to assert a right-wing GOP position that "the minimum wage was never designed to provide a minimum income for a family. By making such mistakes as conflating the minimum wage with a desired minimum income, Democrats have perpetuated a discussion about class warfare." He even claims, absurdly, that "that's why we got our butts handed to us at the last election."

It's just a matter of time before Kurt Schrader goes the way of John Barrow, Joe Baca, Tim Holden, Larry Kissell, Ben Chandler, Pete Gallego, Nick Rahall, and Ron Barber. Sooner the better.

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At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you mean "All other Oregon DEMOCRATIC Members of Congress have stellar records on the environment."

Greg Walden (R) is, unfortunately, an Oregon Member of Congress. He has a stellar record only tregarding being a neo-fascist jerkwad.

John Puma


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