Fire politics — Washington
With over a half million acres burning, an all-Democratic controlled state and an all-Republican controlled federal government, the fires across Oregon are big enough for both partisan and bipartisan reaction.
Oregon’s four Democratic congressional members — Reps. Peter DeFazio, Springfield; Earl Blumenauer, Portland;, Suzanne Bonamici, Beaverton; and Kurt Schrader, Salem; joined with Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, in requesting that disaster funding for Oregon wildfires be wrapped into the emergency supplemental appropriations bill for areas of Texas hit by Hurricane Harvey.
Most of the early blazes among the 24 wildfires now burning in Oregon were in Walden’s district, but the biggest — the 175,000-acre Chetco Bar fire, straddles Walden and DeFazio’s districts, and goes into California. While the Eagle Creek fire is on the border of Blumenauer’s and Walden’s districts, it also goes into Washington.
Fire politics — Salem
Even in disaster, politics is never kumbaya. Jonathan Lockwood, the spokesman for the Senate Republican leadership, tweeted on Wednesday: “Oregon can thank environmental extremists and partisan policies for the inferno exploding on their watch. They have stopped many bills.”
This was followed late Wednesday by a call from state Sen. Herman Baertschiger, R-Grants Pass, for hearings on carbon caps promoted by Democrats. “The safety and well-being of Oregonians must not be sacrificed on the altar of progressive, Portland-centric projects that cap carbon on responsible businesses in our state,” Baertschiger said.
Meanwhile, Mark Feinberg, a Penn State University researcher, writing for The Hill, a Washington-based political website, said wildfires like the ones that ruined his family’s summer trip to Oregon were caused by GOP climate-change denial from billionaires.
Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, put the onus on the Republican-controlled Congress. “My state is on fire. Washington, Idaho, California and Montana are on fire. Congress needs to act. They need to act now. Flooding has left thousands homeless in Texas and Louisiana. The West is burning down. This is no time for politics. It’s time for action.”
All quiet on the campaign front
Thursday is the “Opening Day” of the 2018 election campaign. Candidates can now not only register campaign committees to raise money, but also actually fill out the paperwork to run.
Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, says he will keep his promise to file on the first day to run for governor. His campaign manager, Rebecca Tweed, confirmed that’s the plan via text message. But Buehler fans can put away their marching shoes, and, opponents, don’t bother warming up your voice box to shout questions. Buehler will file with the secretary of state’s office electronically, according to Tweed.
And Buehler, a former Oregon State pitcher and one of Salem’s biggest baseball fans, has a different idea of “Opening Day” than the baseball kind: no public appearances.
Big ‘in’ box, tiny ‘out’ box
What Buehler is doing is raising a lot of money — $1,085,547.77 as of Wednesday evening. He has spent $166,882.71 during the period since he announced he created the Knute for Governor committee in early August.
Governor takes a reprieve
Up through Aug. 18, the Kate Brown Committee was reporting each contribution to the governor’s fundraising effort frequently. Under law, while legislation was under consideration, Brown had to report funds shortly after receiving them. The 18th was the last day she signed bills. It is also the last day Brown reported a contribution — nothing has been filed since a $500 contribution from John Lamborn, an attorney in Burns.
Brown can now wait up to 30 days after a contribution to report it. Conceivably, she could “go dark” until mid-September.
Meanwhile, her last committee report had her at $1,026,976.63 raised this year, while spending $758,833.24. The committee entered 2017 with a substantial balance, so Brown’s overall cash-on-hand is just over $1.5 million.
This is good for a governor’s campaign, except: 1. It doesn’t include anything over the past three weeks, and 2. Brown isn’t officially running for governor — at least not yet. Though the Kate Brown Committee is actively soliciting donations and sending out emails asking for money and criticizing Buehler, she has not officially announced she is running.
“As has been reported in the press, a group of friends from across the political spectrum of Republicans gathered for dinner last month and asked that I consider a run for Oregon governor in 2018. Their pledge of substantial support and encouragement was humbling. In the weeks that followed, however, it became clear that my candidacy may divide our party in ways that might be difficult to overcome. I know that campaigns should be robust and choices are needed, but at a time when Oregon desperately needs solutions to serious problems caused by one-party rule in Salem, I don’t want to be a cause for division that could hurt the chances for real change in 2018.”
— House Republican Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, on Wednesday. Conservatives wanted McLane to run against Buehler, who some in the GOP consider too moderate on abortion and environmental issues.
— Reporter: 541-525-5280, firstname.lastname@example.org