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.