Tag Archives: Oregon GOP

Oregon GOP returns to work, but one lawmaker faces complaint

The current Republican TEA Party/Freedom Caucus lunacy has taken a weird turn in Oregon.

Oregon’s Republican state senators ran into the tall grass, preventing the Senate from voting on a climate change bill that the state’s Republicans opposed. State Senate rules required at least 20 members to conduct business; the GOP holds 12 of 30 seats, leaving the Senate with just 18 lawmakers.

The bill couldn’t get a vote.

The renegade GOPers came back to work, but the Senate had to scuttle the bill because it still lacked the number of senators needed to do business.

Here is where it gets weird. One of the runaway Republicans, Sen. Brian Boquist, had threatened to shoot an Oregon state trooper who had been dispatched by Gov. Kate Brown to find the renegades. Fortunately, Boquist never took a shot.

However, a Democratic senator has filed a complaint over Boquist’s threat. As The Hill reported: “State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Conduct, told Oregon Public Broadcasting … that he had filed a formal complaint against Boquist, adding that a hearing would held early next month.”

This is not how you govern any of our 50 states. To be fair, Oregon Republicans aren’t the first legislators to pull off such a stunt. Texas Democrats, nicknamed the “Killer Bees,” did something similar in the early 1990s in defiance of then-Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby. I don’t recall, though, any of the Killer Bees threatening to shoot a Department of Public Safety trooper.

Good governance requires sanity. It’s missing in action way up yonder on one side of the aisle in the state of my birth.


Recalling a great Republican governor

I mentioned the late Tom McCall in a recent blog post, citing him as the type of Republican politician I admired. The more I think about it the more I feel compelled to elaborate on the great man.

McCall was born in Massachusetts but moved to Oregon as a youngster. He divided his time between the coasts. Even as he grew into adulthood, McCall never seemed to lose his New England accent.

McCall got his degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and reported for newspapers in Idaho and then Oregon before entering politics.

Oregon voters elected him to two terms as governor in 1966 and then in 1970. Then he had to bow out because of term limits.

I want to mention McCall because of the makeup and tenor that we hear from today’s Republican Party. McCall was not a doctrinaire Republican politician. I don’t recall him adhering to rigid ideology, other, I suppose, than being tight with public money.

He developed many friends in both political parties. He remember him as being affable and easygoing. I never met the man, as my journalism career began the year after he left office in January 1975.

But in 1971, McCall blurted out something to a CBS News reporter that has become legendary in Oregon. He told the reporter that visitors were welcome to “Come visit us again and again. This is a state of excitement. But for heaven’s sake, don’t come here to live.”

Now, I cannot prove this, but my hunch all along was that when Gov. McCall made that statement in 1971, he did so to lure more residents to the state. His seeming snobbishness ignited the boom that continues to this day.

Many folks around the country — particularly in California — took McCall’s statement seriously, that he really didn’t want people to move into Oregon. I have asked for decades: What politician worth a damn is going to tell people to stay away and, thus, deprive his state government of vital tax revenue?

That isn’t my favorite anecdote about Gov. McCall, though. The topper occurred the previous year, in 1970, when he essentially legalized marijuana for a day when tens of thousands of young people gathered in rural Clackamas County for an event called “Vortex: A Biodegradable Festival of Life.” They played rock music and, shall we say, enjoyed each other’s company while the American Legion was meeting in Portland for its annual convention.

The Vietnam War was still raging and those students had been killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio. McCall thought when decided to have a state-sponsored rock festival that he had “committed political suicide.” His aim was to avoid a clash between anti-war protesters and the Legion convention attendees.

As the saying goes: mission accomplished. And, yes, McCall was re-elected in 1970 with 56 percent of the vote.

Imagine for a moment a Republican politician — or a Democrat, for that matter — doing something so audacious today.

GOP has gone mad in the state of my birth

Oregon Republicans used to comprise a sane lot of politicians, folks who actually knew how to govern and they did it well.

The late Gov. Tom McCall, a Republican, is a legendary figure in Oregon. So is the late Sen. Mark Hatfield, another GOP stalwart. Oregon had a Republican secretary of state, Clay Myers, who was known to work well with Democrats.

These days the Republican Party in Oregon — the state where I was born and spent the first 34 years of my life — has gone bonkers.

They comprise 12 members of the Oregon Senate. The rest of the 30-member body comprises Democrats. The Oregon Senate needs 20 members present, a quorum, to do business.

The state’s Republican Senate caucus dislikes a cap-and-trade bill — an environmentally friendly bill that aims to cut carbon emissions — that they all have disappeared. They aren’t reporting for work. The Senate can’t do any business.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, has dispatched the state police to look for the missing senators. She wants to round up enough of them to force the Senate to vote on the emissions bill.

Here is where it gets really weird, man. At least one GOP senator, Brian Boquist, is threatening to kill any trooper who seeks to take him into custody to bring him back to work.

As CNN reported on what Boquist told a Portland TV station: “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.” Yep. There’s an implied threat of violence there, right? Of course there is!

I began my journalism career in Oregon in 1976. I didn’t get to cover the Legislature in those days, although I certainly reported on the impact of legislation on the community I served as a reporter and later an editor. Nothing like this ever occurred.

Then again, that was a time when Republicans and Democrats actually worked together in state government and actually got things done for the benefit of those of us they served.

Motor voter law takes effect

Leave it to a state known to be among the first to try new ideas.

That would be Oregon, the state of my birth, which has just become the first state in America to automatically register citizens to vote using data taken from motor vehicle department registration.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill into law.


It’s a fascinating concept. The state is dipping into DMV records to find citizens who aren’t registered to vote. It registers them, but those newly registered voters have 21 days to decide whether they want to remain registered to vote.

In Oregon, that voter registration rolls are expected to swell by 300,000 residents.

What would be the effect in Texas? Let’s see, Oregon’s population is just a shade less than 4 million; Texas’s is 26 million. Would the Texas voter registration rolls increase by, say, 1.8 million to 2 million citizens?

Let’s not get too giddy over this law, though.

Every Republican in the Oregon Legislature opposed the bill, citing concerns about “invasion of privacy.” Oregon’s political balance is fairly equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. If the GOP opposes this kind of voter registration reform nationally, it would seem to have zero chance in a state like Texas, where Republicans command super-majorities in both legislative chambers.

In an era where pols are trying to make voter registration more difficult, it is refreshing to see such a bold new initiative inaugurated in a place where innovation often is the norm.

“I challenge every other state in this nation to examine their policies and to find ways to ensure there are as few barriers as possible for citizens’ right to vote,” Brown said.

Don’t hold your breath, governor, about Texas examining its voter registration policies.

Still, I’m glad to see at least one state taking a proactive approach to working to put more, not fewer, of its residents on its voter registration rolls.