Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Saxton makes it official

Last night Ron Saxton made it official.

He launched his campaign with a crowd of several hundred supporters at the Oregon Historical Society. It was quite a festive scene: bright lights, TV cameras, balloons, and a lot of enthusiastic people.

I've been to a lot of these things (and done one of my own), but Ron's was unusual. Typically, it is like pulling teeth to get bodies to a campaign kickoff. The candidate of course wants lots of people, so if the media does show up it looks substantial and credible. But it's not all that easy to get people to show.

Ron had no such problem. There were not only lots of people, but lots of energy in the room. And Ron gave his speech, which left little doubt that he is running to DO something rather than to BE something.

His speech was full of specifics. It wasn't your run of the mill thematic stump speech, full of platitudes and feel-good bromides. He went down the list of state agencies and programs and talked about how he would change them. Privatize anything the private sector can do more cheaply and efficiently than government employees. Specifics: DEQ emmissions testing. He gave others.

Fix PERS. He said it is unconscionable that government agencies such as schools are paying as much as 25% of payroll into the retirement system. Wrap your mind around that! What is YOUR 501k employer contribution? Five percent is about average.

Bring competition to the public schools. I've spoken with Ron at length on this issue, as you might imagine. Ron has a deeper understanding of the school problem and how competition can help fix it than any person I know. He saw the face of the problem during his time on the Portland school board.

Lots of people who have criticised me for endorsing Ron like to attack him for his tenure on the school board. Guess what? Ron pushed for every single charter school that came in front of the board, and at times was the lone "yes" vote.

Did he singlehandedly reform the district? No, a school board member has no power to do that, especially in Portland where his colleagues are hand picked by the teachers union and are the usual stripe of Portland latte leftists.

The Saxton campaign had a great week. Lars endorsed him yesterday, completing the KXL "hat trick," since Jeff Kropf and I had already endorsed him. Lars had previously supported Atkinson, but when Jason took the curious position in support of Bush's guest worker program (which is just amnesty by another name) Lars could no longer support him.

So he threw his considerable weight behind Ron.

The event had a funny, if pathetic sideshow. On the sidewalk in front of the Historical Society lobby were about five protesters, each holding picket signs. They weren't causing a ruckus or anything, just stood there glumfaced holding their signs, which were hand-lettered with magic markers and looked as if they spent all of 30 seconds putting them together.

One sign read: Ron Saxton: Neil Goldschmidt's personal lawyer.

Very nice! That is totally false - Ron was never Goldschmidt's lawyer for anything. It was pretty disappointing - not that protesters would show up with false assertions on their picket signs - that just means that the Saxton campaign matters. Nobody bothers to picket someone who is irrelevant.

No, what was disappointing is how feckless, amateurish and clumsy the protest was. Assuming that the protest was in some plausibly deniable way originated by the Mannix campaign, is that really the best they can do? Hand-lettered smears on picket signs hoping to somehow cast a pall over the festive atmosphere?

All they succeeded in doing is making themselves (and the Mannix campaign, even if it wasn't at all involved, since everyone would naturally assume that it was) look pathetic.

Is that how this campaign is going to play out? Energy and enthusiasm on one side, desperate smears on the other?

If so, I like Ron's chances!


Jim Evans said...

The event was excellent, and a great way to kickoff a campaign for govenor. Ron has presence and extolled his vision for Oregon with enthusiasm:business friendly,limited government,reform of agencies,and rekindling of the spirit which burns in all our citizens.

Capitol 3 said...
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