Oregon doesn't churn out much presidential material.
Republican Herbert Hoover spent some formative years in Newberg and dallied at Willamette University before heading off to Stanford, the White House and disgrace.
Mark Hatfield, the Republican senator and governor, made Richard Nixon's short list for veep in 1968 before being jettisoned in favor of tax-evader Spiro Agnew.
And at his height in the late '80s, then-Gov. Neil Goldschmidt was regarded by many to have the right Democratic vice-presidential stuff before he sailed into the then-unexplained sunset.
But if Glen Livingston has his way, Oregon could produce the next president of the United States.
His hoped-for candidate is Mary Starrett, the antiwar, anti-abortion, 9/11-skeptical (see "Changing Horses," WW, March 7, 2007) vegetarian Starrett, a former staple of local TV as co-host of KATU's AM Northwest program.
Starrett ran for governor last year in Oregon as the nominee of the conservative Constitution Party. She captured 50,000-plus votes (about 3.6 percent) and so impressed Livingston that he's created a Draft Mary Starrett Campaign.
The 51-year-old Portland-area exterior-remodeling contractor says he's already emailed Constitution Party members in every state and won't rest until a "groundswell of support" reaches Starrett. His first move: to "be in contact with as many blogging sites as I can, from both the right and left."
"I think she's a good choice because she's attractive and articulate," says Livingston, a registered Constitution Party member.
"Not all conservatives have devil horns," says Livingston, a former candidate himself—he racked up 20 percent of the vote in a 1988 run for then-Portland Commissioner Mike Lindberg's seat.
But channeling the spirit of Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman ("If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve"), Starrett rejects any talk of a presidential campaign: She doesn't exactly recall her 2006 gubernatorial run with enough fondness to take a stab at presidential politics.
"Shoot me, just shoot me," Starrett says, "It's like asking a woman who just had a baby to have quintuplets."
Starrett, now working as a communications director for the national Constitution Party as well as executive director of the anti-abortion Oregonians for Life, likened her 2006 campaign to being punched "in the face by someone holding a roll of quarters."
Yet Livingston believes Starrett could successfully cross the political divide. Though he's never spoken to her, Livingston is sure she could attract voters, the "true blue of America," away from the "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" of the two major parties.
Starrett agrees, but she laughs off Livingston's efforts. Although she says most Americans are tired of politicians' "semantic games," she says she'd be "out of her league" in a presidential run. She'd rather support someone who "could do some damage to the Republicans."
"Mary Starrett is interesting to many libertarians," says Richard Burke, the Libertarian Party of Oregon's last gubernatorial nominee as well as its executive director. Burke cited the independent presidential candidacies of John Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot in 1992 as examples of third-party alliances. "Strange things happen in politics."
Livingston remains confident in his campaign to draft Starrett, saying he's already received positive feedback from Constitution Party officials in Minnesota.
Starrett, unconvinced, is nevertheless appreciative.
"How sweet is he?" she says. "I'll have to send him an email."