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February 18th, 2004 Mark Baylis | News Stories
 

Dean Engine Still Chugging in Oregon

     
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"You've got to see the writing on the wall." --Richard Ellmyer
IMAGE: STEPHEN VOSS
As the John Kerry Express pulls out of Wisconsin with even more delegates in cargo, its piercing whistle has not yet derailed Oregon for Dean, which stubbornly chugs up the mountain of poor polls, lost delegates and The Scream®.

Turnout at the First Wednesday meet-ups (14 were held Feb. 4) remains strong. Last week, phone-banking Oregon volunteers continued to harass Wisconsinites at dinnertime. And the Burn for Dean onslaught--the mass burning and mailing of Dean DVDs and CDs to voters--have kept Mac drives spinning.

"We're not going to stop," says Ginny Ross, a Portland volunteer organizer who has hosted campaign house parties and events. "Only 25 percent of the delegates have been picked. Big deal."

But one by one, Oregon Deaniacs swept into the groundbreaking political campaign are accepting the cold, unraveling reality.

"Dean should get all the credit for providing energy into the Democratic Party--of which there was none before," says Richard Ellmyer, 57, a longtime Portland Democratic activist. But, he concedes, "You've got to see the writing on the wall."

If Dean can't become the next Comeback Kid before Oregon's May 18 primary, it will be a heartbreak for local Deaniacs, many of whom were struck for the first time by Cupid's political arrow. Facing their first breakup, they are left with the inevitable question: Where to go from here?

Most supporters and endorsers, such as Oregon congressman David Wu and Matt Hennessee, chairman of Portland Development Commission, have vowed to support the eventual Democratic nominee. But others are searching for ways to maintain the grassroots momentum beyond November.

"We want to talk about how to keep this going," Ross says. "It would be a shame to see all these names just get archived. Whether Dean for America can channel itself into a new, progressive organization, I'm interested in seeing."

 
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