THE HYSTERICAL WEEK leading up to election day was set to the tempo of a booming chant: "Doom. Doom. Doom. Doom!" While the midterm elections were grim for Democrats nationally and progressive issues locally—hey, cheer up loser! We deliver the good news along with the bad.
BAD NEWS: As of press time, many of the most important races confronting voters in Portland, and Oregon, remained too close to call. The gubernatorial horserace between Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley was every bit the nail-biter pundits and activists fretted it would be. Taking the stage just before 11 PM, Kitzhaber told everyone to go home and go to bed: "This probably won't be decided until some time before the sun comes up."
Measure 26-108, the Portland ballot item that would retain public funding for elections, was alive, but not looking good. Measure 74, creating medical pot dispensaries, appeared all but dead. And Measure 26-117, which would seek $72 million in new property taxes to pay for firefighting equipment was incredibly tight. In some cases, it might be days before the full picture emerges—a drag because we won't know what direction our state is about to take.
GOOD NEWS: The Democratic Party appeared to be holding onto the U.S. Senate, even as a promised Republican landslide overtook the House of Representatives. But that's totally a hunt for a silver lining, because even Democratic control of the Senate won't be as good as it might seem. Here's the thing: Whatever number the Dems wind up with will be far short of the near-filibuster-proof majority they once had. And that means we'll still be in store for crippling gridlock in Washington, DC.
GOOD NEWS: The progressive slaughter in the House and Senate didn't extend to Oregon, where our national Democrat leadership went untouched. Representative Earl Blumenauer and his infinite bucket of bike pins can match any Tea Bagger vote for vote—and he's got seniority. While the rest of the country is turning Red, we re-elected Blumenauer by a giant margin (early returns showed him with 70 percent of the vote) and even Kurt Schrader pulled a win in his tight race. We've still got smart, solid politicians in Washington DC.
BAD NEWS: The Democratic Party of Oregon's ball, over at the Portland Hilton, charged $4.25 for soda, and twice that for hooch. Also, there were long food lines and too few chairs. And not to mention (though we will) the chintzy wireless Internet, plus shitty cell phone reception that rendered most smartphones inert, left all sorts of politicos scrambling when it came to getting their fix with fast and frequent reloads of internet election results. Instead, everyone was forced to cheer for the same cycled election results shown on a couple of big TV screens.
GOOD NEWS: Loretta Smith, after storming to an early overwhelming victory in her bid to replace now-Chair Jeff Cogen as Multnomah County Commissioner from District 2, gave an incredibly humble speech and had kind words to say about her opponent, Karol Collymore, whom the Mercury had endorsed. "I think I got my act together in the general election," said Smith, a longtime aide to Senator Ron Wyden. She said Collymore was "very gracious" when she called to concede and that they "had a great time, a great conversation," and that she looked forward to working with Collymore, who presumably will return to her post as an aide in Cogen's office. And, as Collymore said at her party: "No sad faces."
GOOD NEWS: Steve Novick, former "give 'em the right hook" Senate candidate and longtime Oregon politico, was shaking hands and greeting old friends among the sorry-faced crowd at the Democrats' party at the Hilton. He had zero good political news to report, but he said with a fist pump, "The Giants won the World Series. They're the champions!"
BAD NEWS: We're in the wild west of campaign finance, where national candidates can literally receive bags of cash from groups and individuals who don't have to reveal their identities.
GOOD NEWS: Portland pulled together what is, arguably, the largest volunteer canvass in the entire country. On Halloween night for an event called Trick or Vote, youth political group the Bus Project got 600 volunteers to knock 17,000 doors reminding people to vote. "We don't find an 'enthusiasm gap' in Portland," said Bus Project Political Director Henry Kraemer, "just enthusiasm."
BAD NEWS: Measure 73, the tough-on-crime measure opposed by victims and advocates of the crimes it purports to clamp down on, got off to an INCREDIBLY DEPRESSING lead in early returns statewide, a margin that carried it to victory even as more ballots from progressive Multnomah County were being counted. Measure 73, for voters who don't know better (whoops!), will go after drunk drivers and sex offenders, but cost the state as much $91 million that advocates say would be better spent on services that actually reduce crime and help victims.
GOOD NEWS: Measure 71, which would create a special, abbreviated legislative session in even-numbered years—bringing Oregon into the wide ranks of states with annual legislatures—sailed to victory.
BAD NEWS: The Tea Party is gaining political power. And they have TERRIBLE taste in music. Reporter Dave Bow attended the Tea Party party in Clackamas, blogging next to a 60-year-old man wearing denim formal wear. And though he reports that the TPs he met were totally not racist, they did choose to blast the following songs: Don McLean's "American Pie", Toby Keith's "The Angry American (Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue)", and Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" (twice!).
BAD NEWS: The Metro President race is still too close to call, but by press time it looks like Washington County and Clackamas County votes might snag a lean victory for Tom Hughes, beating our preferred, more environmentally-friendly choice, Bob Stacey. Hughes could be the deciding vote in favor of a wider Columbia River Crossing. But, really, it's not so bad. Even by his critics' accounts, Hughes is a totally nice and completely decent guy. From his election night party on board the Portland Spirit, Hughes said the first thing he would do in office would be to meet with business and enviro representatives to do away with the "scorched earth rhetoric" of the campaign.
GOOD NEWS: No more stupid campaign ads for a whole 'nother year!