Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Race to Watch: OR House Dist 24

I, along with the rest of the Linfield College Democrats met with Salvador Peralta tonight, the Democrat challenging Incumbent Donna Nelson in the McMinnville race for the 24th House District in Oregon.

This is not a seat commonly thought of as one that would be up for grabs, its a very conservative district, as demonstrated for its amazing ability to elect someone as far right as Donna Nelson, who even proposed a bill in the State Legislature to lower the State minimum wage to the national minimum, $5.15 an hour. She is the worst kind of anti-worker, anti-gay, far right Republican, someone who definately deserves to go.

In spite of the trends of this district I was struck by Peralta's passion and his strong belief that he can win this race, and indeed it looks plausible, as he pointed out to us, and points out in a diary at Daily Kos, his race has been targeted by multiple election observers and Democratic activists as key to winning back the State House of Representatives. On the Democracy for America Endorsement I just linked to, Peralta is in with some impressive company including Sherrod Brown, Ned Lamont, Francine Busby, Bernie Sanders, Mary Jo Kilroy, and Ciro Rodriguez.

Peralta's talk with us in many ways mirrored the diary that I linked to above from DailyKos. Something very important that was left out of the diary is that he was told when he got into the race not to bother talking to Republicans because it is a waste of time. But Peralta defied their advise and has found that many Republicans in the current political climate are very frustrated with the direction of the country and ready for change. The simple truth of the matter is that in a county like Yamhill, you cannot win as a Democrat unless you get the support of Republicans. The only way to win is to reach out to Republican moderates, and Peralta realizes that, and also realizes that if there is any time that these people can be reached it is now, when more than ever people are open to new ideas, to voting differently than they have in the past. I was bowling a week ago and had a discussion afterwards with the team I was subbing with about the state of our political world. These were clearly conservative people, people who had voted Republican their entire lives, people who believed that Iraq was involved in 9/11 even in spite of all evidence to the contrary. And yet, in spite of all this, they were clearly open to new ideas, they were clearly frustrated with the same things that we all are frustrated with. With the way the war in Iraq was going, with the state of the economy, particularly with the state of the economy in Oregon. They could be reached by a candidate who tried to reach out to them, but the conventional wisdom says not to try. Peralta understands how wrong that conventional wisdom is, for if the last 5 years have revealed anything it is the failures of conservatism and Republican ideology. People want representatives who will work to ensure as the founders put it "a more perfect union". They want change, and while their mindset is still conservative what they want more than anything is a change of course, and a change of course is precisely what the Republicans cannot and will not provide.

Salvador Peralta can do great things for Oregon and great things for Yamhill County, his race is key to ensuring a Democratic legislature that can push through serious reforms in the next session, reforms that help ordinary Oregonians. Getting rid of Donna Nelson even without consideration of the power for change that a Democratic Oregon House of Reps can wield, is an added bonus. Salvador Peralta's campaign website can be found here.

15 comments:

Torrid said...

I think Sal's got a shot. Nelson must think so, because she flipped out a little bit about Peralta's dalliance with bloggers.

One great thing about Sal is he won't take any out-of-district PAC or corporate money. You can give as an individual though!

Sponge said...

Sal doesn't have a chance. He may have good ideas, but he has no name recognition in Yamhill County. Donna has been active in the community for decades and is fairly well liked. The district has a significant Republican voter registration advantage and has been in Republican hands for the last 12 years. That isn't going to change this time around.

Anonymous said...

As someone who worked in the Legislature for a D House member I often made a mental list of the people (who theroretically could lose) that I'd like to see defeated. Donna Nelson was always #1. While the rest of the Reps are often idelogically and I often have diametrically opposed positions from them, Donna Nelson was almost literally a classic vapid right wing stereotype. All of her speeches centered around one of two things, either "supporting veterans" or knee jerk social issues. Derrick Kitts may have been the most corrupt person in the legislature, but Donna Nelson was clearly the least intelligent.

Sponge said...

Say whatever you want about Donna; bottom line is, Sal can't take her out. He's a newcomer to the district and nobody knows him.

Anonymous said...

Congrats!

Ms. Nelson wins the "Elizabeth Taylor Look-a-Like" contest!

Circa 1978.

Torrid said...

since when is 2,600 registrants a "significant" advantage?

sponge is guessing...

Cwech said...

In response to Sponge:

Yes, Yamhill is definately a conservative county (Peralta estimated that removing independents it was about 57% Repub to about 43% Democrat in registrations), and yes, Donna Nelson does have greater name recognition, and furthermore, this might be one of the few places in the State that could elect a lunatic like her. But all that aside, Peralta has more than just good ideas, he has momentum, he has support, and he has been campaigning hard through a time that Nelson hasn't taken him seriously at all. That means that Peralta has had the opportunity to persuade voters without any interference from Nelson. The fact that Peralta is being taken seriously and getting support from the State Democratic Party and Democracy for America serves as a crucial momentum boost, it improves his fundraising capabilities and his overall name recognition. And the only thing Nelson can seem to hit him with is "his connections to left wing bloggers" if that's not a weak charge I don't know what is. I don't know if Peralta can pull it off or not, but I do believe that it will be far closer than anybody could have thought this district could possibly be not that long ago.

Anonymous said...

People used to say the same thing about Mary Stern -- up until they day that she knocked the last member of the Bunn clan out of office and followed up with a 75 percent to 25 percent win over Chuck Mitchell, former Mayor of Yamhill, who was endorsed by the Oregon Republican Party, Oregonians in Action, and the Oregon Family Farm Council and who was backed by the George clan.

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, Sal is backed by County Commissioner Mary Stern, Sheriff Lee Vasquez, and Donna's 2004 opponent in the Republican primary.

Let's hope Donna continues sitting this one out.

Sponge said...

You can hope Donna sits this one out, but she won't. She's sitting on a lot of money and will spend it liberally in a few weeks. Regardless of Sal's cred with the dems, he's still a newcomer with no name recognition. Mary Stern won her race against Tom Bunn becuase Tom Bunn destroyed his own career and campaign. Donna hasn't done that to herself. And, as you pointed out regarding Mary's race against Chuck Mitchell, big name endorsements aren't enough to do the trick. Donna wins this one hands down.

Torrid said...

From July numbers, it's closer to 55-45, but that's kind of an odd construct--why leave out the NAVs? It's 20% of the electorate, and in Oregon it generally trends Democrat.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who gets a chance to see these two side-by-side will vote for Sal. Donna is well known, but she's not competent, and people who know her, know that.

We haven't been well-represented in the legislature since Leslie Lewis was term-limited out.

If the signs I'm seeing out on people's lawns are any indication, Sal knows a lot more people than you think. Seems like they're out on every street.

Sponge said...

The signs don't mean anything. I discovered years ago that - more often than not - people will let you put a sign in their yard if you just ask them. And if Sal has signs up in McMinnville, he's violating city ordinance and is subject to a fine.

I agree that side-by-side appearances can separate the wheat from the chaff, but weak incumbents will tend to shy away from them, and they are usually seen by relatively few people.

Kari Chisholm said...

And if Sal has signs up in McMinnville, he's violating city ordinance and is subject to a fine.

People can't put up a political sign in their own yard? Oh man, I would just LOVE to see that free speech court battle.

Not a chance that holds up in Oregon's Supreme Court.

Sponge said...

The City of McMinnville prohibts the placement of political campaign signs earlier than six weeks prior to the election (and they are not unique in this). They also require the payment of $50 for a sign permit (refunded after the election if there is no cost to the city for removing illegal signs). This issue was brought to the city council nearly 20 years ago as unconstitutional. The city attorney even admitted it would not likely stand up in court, but the council refused to change it.

I, too, woluld love to see it challenged in court, but most candidates are loath to challenge an existing ordinance in the midst of a campaign for public office.