I’ve been going back and forth on how to position my thoughts on the recent election results. Overall there was a lot of really good things locally and nationally. Most importantly, at the City of Portland level we kept some of the crazies out of City Council.
As the dust has settled, there’s a couple things to point out, first by asking a question:
Why isn’t there more established politicians competing for roles in Portland government?
Just a handful of years ago City of Portland’s government was seen as a credible path of maneuvering your political career in Oregon and Democratic Party of Oregon politics, it was viewed as good checkbox on your resume as you climb the ladder toward higher career ambitions, as more than one State-level leader in Oregon history has served in Portland’s government.
Today Portland’s political system is so corrupted, disgusting, and plagued with insanity that virtually no reasonable person wants these positions, one can look at these elected positions and clearly see a career ending job, even a very real threat to your family’s safety. Many of the recent round (and last couple rounds) of local elections had candidates with zero political experience running. Notably Sarah Iannarone and Mingus Mapps, with also incumbent Chloe Eudaly had no political or real professional experience prior to her elected position. Meanwhile folks like Carmen Rubio, and candidate Ozzie González, had some level of political connections, but never served in a elected position. I’m not sure if Dan Ryan was elected to a school board position or simply volunteered, but either way he and most of these candidates are not a centerpiece of the DPO’s political strategy. Establishment politicians have alienated themselves from regular Portlanders. For example, Mary Nolan is one of those worthless, corrupt, establishment bureaucrats (whose husband, Mark Gardiner is likely grossly profiteering off of her political career) and will predictably vote in the way that The Party wants her to – except for when she’s “incredibly selfish.” Nolan was just elected to the regional-government Metro, after failing multiple times to enter Portland City Council, and she had to beat yet another candidate (Chris Smith) who has a great deal of experience as an activist but has never won an election. Former Mayor Sam Adams was defeated in the primaries. Another deeply corrupt establishment Democrat, Lorretta Smith, narrowly lost to Dan Ryan.
No serious candidates really want to run for City positions because it’s a giant goddamn shitshow. Dan Ryan just had his home attacked because he didn’t side with a deranged angry mob of terrorists. Ted Wheeler’s downtown apartment was attacked, and the lives of everyone inside threatened when the appartment was lit on fire. Even long before the recent bout of 2020’s protest insanity there has been lunatics overwhelming all City Council politics, for exampled when Jo Ann Hardesty was sworn in 2019, The Oregonian reported:
[Mayor] Wheeler was not 10 seconds into congratulating Hardesty as a “tireless leader” and “an effective advocate” before he was interrupted by a shouting, swearing heckler, who was eventually removed by security. Minutes later, Wheeler ordered the council chambers emptied after another man flopped on the ground after a meandering rant in which he called the commissioners “serial killers.”
“It’s kind of an interesting start,” Hardesty said.
As the commotion erupted she turned to Wheeler: "I leaned over and said to the mayor, ‘Is this normal?’ And he said, every week.”
And this is exactly why in 2018 and 2019 Ted Wheeler was going back and forth on if he even wanted to do a second term, openly complaining about the job as the Mayor. Simply because Ted Wheeler won the election doesn’t mean he’s a popular Mayor. Not only does he personally hate the job, but he’s burned his bridges and has been left “marooned” two years ago – there’s all sorts of examples of his core supporters backing away from him. As The Oregonian put it, “Two months ahead of the Nov. 3 election, Wheeler drew an unfavorable rating of 63%, with 26% rating him favorably.” The only reason he won is because there’s still enough sober voters in Portland to realize Sarah Iannarone (the “I am Antifa” candidate) would have been an even larger disaster because she has no practical experience managing anything, plus she had too divisive of lifestyle and message to actually succeed in compromise-based government.
We also shouldn’t forget how Ted Wheeler arrived as Mayor – the previous Mayor Charlie Hales was widely unpopular, a tax dodger, probably committed vote fraud, and on top of all of these things he absolutely wrecked the city with his Housing State of Emergency declaration – which he probably did only to score political points for Democrats and liberals. The moment someone competent entered the race to unseat Charlie Hales he backed away and handed the race to his contender – that contender was Ted Wheeler. Prior to becoming Portland’s Mayor, Wheeler was widely expected to be the next Governor of Oregon and predicted to easily sail into that position in 2018, however the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber put a new incumbent Governor in place (current Governor Kate Brown), so Wheeler was without the next rung on the ladder to climb. He found the next highest executive position in Oregon: Mayor of the largest city. Much like Charlie Hales, I think Ted Wheeler would happily conceed is position as Mayor if another “reasonable” candidate came along that the Establishment could endorse. Unfortunately the only reasonable candidate to enter the primaries, Ozzie González, had only private sector experience and didn’t have strings to pull or loyality within The Party who actually runs these things.
Another kick in the balls to The Establishment and Status Quo was the defeat of Chloe Eudaly. As a City Commissioner she’s been divisive, ridiculous, petty, she seemed to have adopted this sentiment that "I'm poor because of the middle class, so I need to attack the middle class" or maybe she's just made the common mistake of looking at the middle class and presuming they’re rich – but, either way, most importantly of all – her public policies have been a radioactive disaster, and this is why she was booted off City Council. The most outrageous of her policies included renters reform which is guaranteed to increase rental prices predictably each year, then she lead a direct assault on the backbone of Portland's very Participatory Democracy through our long cherished Neighborhood Associations ostensibly believing that homeowners have too much say in these lowest rungs of government. Voters rejected her bullshit.
Before Eudaly was removed from office, she became a poster-child for Oregon Democrats looking at zoning reform across the State of Oregon. Oregon Legislature cited "What Portland is doing" as a model, and I think this will result in a similar blowback at the State level, with probably a higher share of incumbent entrenched Democrats being replaced because they're growing increasingly out of touch.
Another somewhat fascinating result is that Trump gained a marginal supporters in the Portland Metro area between 2016 and 2020 in Washington & Multnomah Counties, while Clark and Clackamas remained basically the same:
Washington County 2016: Trump/Pence 83,197 votes (30.90%) out of 269,232 votes cast
Washington County 2020: Trump/Pence 98,661 votes (30.99%) out of 318,353 votes cast
Multnomah County 2016: Trump/Pence 67,854 votes (17.03%) out of 399,103 votes cast
Multnomah County 2020: Trump/Pence 82,410 votes (17.86%) out of 461,453 votes cast
Clackamas County 2016: Trump/Pence 88,392 votes (43.00%) out of 205,541 votes cast
Clackamas County 2020: Trump/Pence 108,407 votes (42.97%) out of 252,293 votes cast
Clark County (Washington) 2016: Trump/Pence 92,441 (46.18%) out of 200,160 votes cast
Clark County (Washington) 2020: Trump/Pence 125,822 (46.18%) out of 272,477 votes cast
Regarding the national election, it is yet another kick in the balls. It seems pretty clear that the national media has lined up behind Trump losing, no matter what happens with Trump’s lawsuits there’s a very clear narrative put forward by the media about who the winner is. As we can plainly see in other countries, the media really is the deciders of which government leader has legitimacy. The Establishment was widely predicting a landslide against Trump, and instead what they’ve gotten is an election that’s so close it’s down to under 10,000 votes in a handful of key states. Far from a landslide, nationally the Democrats who expected a major rebuke of Trump are in fact barely scraping by. Though, I think we’re all going to be better off without Trump in office, it’s hard to imagine Biden will be competent enough to serve two terms, I wouldn’t be too surprised at all of Biden “resigns” for health reasons prior to the 2024 election, given Harris the better-positioned incumbency to defend against Republicans.
I could find all sorts of examples of The Establishment being kicked in the balls this election. The biggest kick in the balls was, by far, the failure of Metro's transportation bond. That will likely be the subject of my next piece.