Your Weekend Reader for May 21-22

by | May 21, 2022 | Weekend Reader | 0 comments

Oregon’s primary election is over: Did you vote? I suspect most of my faithful readers did, but you’re going against the tide: Slightly more than a third (36.1%) of the state’s registered voters bothered to cast ballots. Benton County fared a bit better, with a turnout of about 42.8%, but that doesn’t really seem like anything to boast about, considering that both the Democratic and Republican ballots included intriguing races — and most of the ballots in Corvallis included bond measures for the Corvallis School District and Linn-Benton Community College.

Maybe the electorate will rouse itself for the November general election, but it is worrisome that at a time when many states around the nation are doing everything they can to limit access to the franchise, most Oregonians are shrugging their shoulders when their ballots, complete with a postage-paid return envelope, arrive in the mail. Voting is a right we take for granted — and, has become abundantly clear the last year or so, rights can be taken away.

I’ll climb off my soapbox now. Here are some more or less random thoughts about the election:

  • I can’t say I was stunned by any of the results (well, that’s not entirely true: I was surprised at the relatively easy win for the Linn-Benton Community College bond proposal, which passed by more than 9,000 votes. What was not a surprise: All of that margin came from Benton County; the measure failed in Linn County.)
  • I also was surprised by the big margin by which Benton County Commissioner Pat Malone defeated challenger Helen Higgins. I thought that Malone likely would win, but I thought it would be close. It was not: Malone beat Higgins by more than 3,000 votes, a 62%-38% margin. My guess here is that Malone’s long ties to Benton County Democrats paid off for him in this race.
  • As the results for the Fourth Congressional District demonstrated, the Democratic race was over the moment retiring Rep. Peter DeFazio endorsed Val Hoyle, the Oregon labor commissioner. But the race still attracted seven other candidates — including Corvallis’ Sami Al-Abdrubbuh and Oregon State University professor John Selker. And when the ballots were counted, Hoyle had amassed more votes than the other seven candidates combined. Al-Abdrubbuh won about half of his 5,774 votes in Benton County, but still lost the county to Hoyle. Selker picked up about a third of his 4,457 votes in Benton County. Hoyle goes on to face a well-funded Republican challenger in Alek Skarlatos. The Fourth Congressional District has been redrawn to favor Democrats (that’s part of the reason why DeFazio retired), but plenty of GOP donors think Skarlatos has a shot.
  • Tina Kotek, the former speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, had an easier time than expected in brushing off a challenge from Tobias Read, the state treasurer, for the Democratic nomination for governor. Christine Drazan prevailed over a 19-candidate field to win the GOP nomination with just about 23% of the vote. That sets up what could be the most intriguing race on the November ballot: a clash between three women — Kotek, Drazen and Betsy Johnson, the former legislator who almost certainly will collect enough signatures to make the ballot as a nonaffiliated candidate. Johnson also has raised $8,4 million thus far, more than any of her rivals, and has more than $5 million in her bank account. In theory, a candidate will be able to win this race with 34% of the vote. It says something about the Oregon Republican Party these days that Bud Pierce, who was the party’s nominee for governor just a couple of cycles ago and ran a spirited if underfunded campaign against Kate Brown, finished fifth in the primary. Marc Thielman, the former superintendent of Alsea schools, finished seventh. He placed third in Benton County, behind Drazan and Bob Tiernan.
  • A setback at the ballot for “Greater Idaho,” the movement that seeks to convince big chunks of eastern and southwest Oregon to secede from the state and align with Idaho: Voters in Douglas and Josephine counties rejected advisory measures supporting the move. However, voters in Klamath County approved a similar advisory measure. So that means voters in nine Oregon counties — Baker, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur, Sherman, Union and now Klamath — have approved measures telling officials to look into the border change. As Douglas Clark of The Oregonian/OregonLive explains in this story, it’s still a longshot.

It’s not all politics this week — just pretty close. However, here’s good news about Adley Rutschman, the former star catcher for the Oregon State University baseball team: Rutschman, the No. 1 draft in 2019’s Major League Baseball draft, will make his MLB debut Saturday night when his Baltimore Orioles play Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, another former OSU baseball star, Cleveland Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan, has cooled off a bit from his ridiculously red-hot start at the plate, but he’s still batting .265.

You’re probably not following the murder trial in Portland in which a romance novelist is accused of the 2019 shooting death of her husband. It hasn’t helped the defense that the writer, Nancy Brophy, once wrote a 2011 blog post titled “How to Murder Your Husband.” It is fair to say, however, that the trial is causing a sensation in Portland — so much so that Mike Baker of The New York Times wrote about it this week.

It’s always a busy time at Your Weekend Reader’s Democracy in Peril desk. Here’s a fresh dispatch from Yascha Mounk, a contributing writer at The Atlantic, about the dangers facing our extremely polarized nation and whether there’s a way back from the brink. The good news, Mounk writes, is the recent studies showing the United States with almost-unprecedented levels of polarization should be taken with a grain of salt. But still.

“Top Gun: Maverick” opens Friday at the box office, and it will provide a big clue as to whether crowds (not to mention older moviegoers) will go to theaters to see movies that aren’t connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or other comic-book characters. “Top Gun” star Tom Cruise is still a big proponent of watching movies on the big screen, but as The New York Times’ Nicole Sperling reports, the movie business has changed dramatically even in the years since Cruise’s last film, 2018’s “Mission: Impossible — Fallout.”

Locally, this is quite the busy weekend for local theater: Four productions are on stage, and all four wrap up their runs this weekend. Over at Withycombe Hall’s Main Stage at Oregon State University, the Sunday matinee of Tom Stoppard’s “On the Razzle” will be the last performance ever at that location; the hall is being renovated into a dairy-processing facility. Click here to read more about that. And my frequently updated calendar of arts events has the details on all the other shows; click here to check that out.

That’s all for this weekend. See you at Withycombe; save me a good seat.

Looking for something to do in the mid-valley? Check out my curated calendar of arts-and-entertainment events.


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