Take a quick census of Oregon's big-spending conservative institutions from this election cycle, and you'll notice quite the pattern emerging:
Grow Oregon, the pro-corporate attempt at grassroots activity, fizzled out pretty quickly. Willamette Week reports that while the group had intended to serve as the conservative get-out-the-vote endeavor (among other things), they appeared instead to have mostly donated in-kind contributions to losing Republican races. Willamette Week wrote, "The group gave $12,500 each to three GOP House candidates: incumbent Reps. Matt Wand (R-Troutdale) and Katie Eyre (R-Hillsboro) and challenger Steve Newgard (R-Milwaukie). They all lost."
Oregon Transformation Project, one of the bigger players in Oregon Republican legislative races this year, left a clear paper trail of their finances showing that the group is both misleading and misguided. OTP appears to have served as the non-transparent arm of Stimson Lumber Corporation, and not even to great effect: $200,000 was thrown into losing Republican legislative candidates this cycle, including $57,000 into Manuel Castaneda's race, alone, who captured a mere 39% of the vote-- only about 9,000 votes.
If money can't do the trick, what should the Oregon Republican Party do, should they hope to connect with voters? The Oregon Catalyst Institute, conservatives' favorite "news site," expressed some insightful analysis into how the party might better connect with voters. Just kidding! Bloggers at Oregon Catalyst, in fact, threw a great temper tantrum in which they blamed everything -- the weather, the candidates, the business community -- everything, except for the platform, ideas, and values that the party espouses.
The Oregon GOP’s failures in this election cycle are glaring. They lost the 30-30 tie in the Oregon House, and are now on the losing end of a 34-26 seat gap. They didn’t come close to winning a statewide or federal race. Their Secretary of State candidate, Knute Buehler, held up by many in the party as the best hope for a statewide pickup, lost to Democrat Kate Brown by more than 8 points despite outspending her. They didn’t even bother running candidates in the primary for Attorney General or Treasurer, and had to mount last minute write-in campaigns to get a couple of candidates on the ballot, who lost by double digits to the Democrats.
Curiously, or not, OR GOP Chair Allen Alley refuses to acknowledge that his party might have a problem. From KVAL:
The state chairman feels the Republicans and the GOP agenda are not out of touch.
"I don't think so. I don't think the data reflects that. The voter registration numbers are moving in our direction. The results are better than they were in 2008. We're moving the ball forward," said Alley.
I guess it's not surprising that the GOP would need strategic advice from the Oregonian. (And it pains me to leave aside for how utterly ridiculous it is for Oregon's state paper to be, yet again, a cheerleader for the Republican party, but that's another story...**)
The fact is this: The reason the GOP can't mobilize grassroots efforts, the reason corporate spending didn't lead to victories, and the reason GOP candidates lose is simple -- the Republican Party is out-of-touch with the values most Oregonians prioritize. Oregonians, who care about their children, their senior parents, and their community, want a government that cares about funding schools, senior services, and other community programs. And that's simply not the GOP.
** It is another story, but I couldn't resist providing at least one little snippit from a piece on Sockeye last year as a reminder of just why the Oregonian might be providing advice to the Oregon Republican Party:
In the year and a half since the Oregonian was taken over by N. Christian Anderson III--who came to Oregon after running the Orange County Register and another right-wing publication in Colorado Springs--the newspaper has lurched to the right. First, the paper famously flipped its opinion on ballot measures 66 and 67 after its new publisher took over, then opened up its front page to advertising by opponents to the measures, and has since tried to censor political advertisements from the Portland Schools Bond campaign that Anderson also doesn't agree with.
N. Christian Anderson III is also on the board of the Portland Business Alliance, the very politically active chamber of commerce in Portland--an apparent violation of the Society of Professional Journalists' code to "shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity."