Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On Oregon's New Governor, Kate Brown

I'm attempting to stick to actual facts here, but for full disclosure: I'm not a fan.

TL;DR version: Oregon's conservatives and gun owners will have our hands full.

Photo of Oregon Governor Kate Brown
Governor Kate Brown
(source: Wikipedia)
I've been trying to do research on Gov. Brown since hearing of former-Gov. Kitzhaber's resignation last week, but as Secretary of State elections aren't as … high-profile … as other races, I haven't been able to dig up much.

On the surface, the Secretary of State's job duties are pretty straightforward. As put forth in Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) Chapter 177, the office has very few explicit duties, and most provide surprisingly little wiggle-room for partisan politics. The Oregon Secretary of State is responsible for:
  • Keeping records of all official acts of the Oregon Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and informing the legislature of the same; and,
  • Affixing the state seal, countersigning, and keeping a register of official acts and commissions issued by the Governor; and,
  • The safekeeping of all enrolled laws and resolutions; and,
  • Keeping the office open during business hours.
Really, not that much. The Secretary of State's office also oversees elections, which includes monitoring the electorate rolls (i.e. who can vote), approving petitions (including validating signatures), verifying candidacy of electoral candidates, etc. That part of the job has a bigger impact to Oregon, but Oregon's laws and rules for elections are a lot of "if ... then ... shall" language; there's not much room to influence any particular race, or really any race for that matter. Either petitioners and potential candidates meet all requirements and follow the rules and get added to the ballot, or they don't and they don't.

On the other hand, the Office of the Secretary of State is a powerful loudspeaker, elevating an otherwise-mundane official into a powerful spokesperson. People listen to the person who holds this office, and as an elected official, we can look at who supported Kate Brown's last races, when she was elected in 2008 and re-elected to another term in 2012. And here is where it gets interesting (and no, the picture is not pretty).

Looking through her views on the issues particular to her office, she's a vocal opponent to "voter ID" laws — y'know, the ones that keep illegal immigrants from voting illegally. We can also infer from that link that she's in favor of limiting campaign spending. Say what you want about it, but getting the word out about someone's candidacy and position on issues requires money, and at the time she was promoting voluntary (for now) spending limits, she was the incumbent. She already had a metaphorical soapbox and bullhorn, and would have denied an equivalent voice to her challenger (also, he was out-raising and out-spending her by a wide margin).

As far as endorsements and campaign contributors from the 2012 election, it's a veritable who's-who of leftist, "Progressive" groups. Additionally, one of the controversies from the 2008 election was the involvement of the Secretary of State Project, described as "a below-the-radar 527 political organization whose stated purpose is 'wrestling control of the country from the Republican Party' through the process of 'removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count,' namely the office of Secretary of State in many cases."

To be clear, I'll say that again: Kate Brown was supported, by both endorsement and financial assistance, by a (now-dissolved) group committed to removing Republican candidates from power by disallowing and/or disqualifying Republican voters from voting. Whether or not the Oregon Secretary of State is able to do such a thing is irrelevant; her campaign accepted the endorsement and money, so obviously they have some shared interests.

Oregon Firearms Federation logo
Oregon's Only No Compromise
Gun Rights Organization
(click to visit OFF's site)
So while her views on guns and gun laws may be relatively unknown, her past campaigns and behaviors paint her as a far-leftist — an "extremist", to use the SPLC vernacular — so I'm willing to give the Oregon Firearms Federation (OFF) the benefit of the doubt when they recently stated, "While many will see [John Kitzhaber's resignation] as good news, since he promised to make more restrictions on gun rights a 'priority,' keep in mind his replacement, Kate Brown, will be every bit as bad as he was on gun rights. There is plenty of reason to believe she will be worse."

I pray for all gun owners and conservatives in Oregon.

Stay safe.

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