Primary Season

There’s an odd advantage (some would say disadvantage) of living right across the state line from a major city. It happens during election season. I get “treated” to all the political campaign commercials offered by people running for office in districts other than my own.

At this particular moment, in my case, that means watching ads on Portland TV stations for candidates hoping to become Oregon’s next governor. Oddly enough, Spirited Reasoners can actually learn something from these messages. All that is required is a willingness to search behind the explicit words and images in hopes of finding the candidate’s implicit ideology.

Since this is primary season, there are several Republicans, several Democrats, and even one independent, whose name will appear on neither ballot, but who appears to be capitalizing on the ads of the other two parties.

Let’s start with the independent, Betsy Johnson. If nothing else, Ms. Johnson’s TV commercials are entertaining. Having served in the Oregon statehouse for over 20 years, she is likely to pose as more than a mere spoiler. What makes her ads so compelling is her willingness to make the implicit messages explicit. After informing viewers that they don’t have to leave the Democratic or Republican Party to vote for her in the general election, she adds that she’s an “equal-opportunity pisser-offer.” Spirited Reasoners would do well to keep an eye on her as one offering a roadmap to future centrists.

On the Republican side, no fewer than 19 candidates have filed. Of these, three appear to be leading in fundraising efforts. They are Christine Drazan, Bud Pierce, and Stan Pulliam. See: https://ballotpedia.org/Oregon_gubernatorial_election,_2022_(May_17_Republican_primary) Drazan has served as Oregon’s House Minority Leader. Her ads focus on her record of opposing Kate Brown’s legislative initiatives. Pierce is an oncologist, whose ads promise that he will not back down to the left-wing radicals “who are destroying our state.” Pulliam made his name as an opponent of COVID mask mandates coupled with support for Donald Trump.

What the Republican candidates all seem to have in common is a distaste for current governor Kate Brown and a desire to “take Oregon back” (from whoever took it away, which Spirited Reasoners would presume to be the Oregon voters who elected Kate Brown in the first place.) Images of homeless campaigns, rioting in the streets of Portland, COVID mask mandates, and alleged voter fraud dominate these ads.

On the Democratic side, 15 candidates have registered. Of these, the two leading candidates appear to be Tina Kotek, who has served as Speaker of Oregon’s House of Representatives, and Tobias Read, who has served as State Treasurer. What makes this race interesting is that while Kotek appears to be running as an establishment (i. e. progressive) Democrat, Read appears to be running as something of a centrist, citing homeless and the need for affordable housing as his primary areas of focus.

Results of the Oregon Primary should be available soon after the polls close on May 17th. We’ll keep you posted.