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January 2nd, 2008 12:00 am JAMES PITKIN | News Stories

Beaver Envy

Jealous of other states always choosing the presidential nominees? Gnaw on this.


It’s a frustrating time to be a political junkie in Oregon.

Iowans will choose presidential nominees in their first-in-the-nation caucus Jan. 3. Meanwhile, we in the Beaver State politely wait until May 20 to vote in our own irrelevant primary. Tied with Kentucky as the sixth-to-last state to vote, Oregon has about as much weight in picking the presidential nominees as a zero to the left of a decimal point.

We may be a cipher in presidential politics. But what happens in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early-voting states does matter here—at least for a few highly placed Oregonians who could gain considerable clout depending on which Republican or Democrat gets the nomination.

So we’ve tracked down which prominent Oregonians are backing each leading candidate. We added up how much money each of those candidates raised statewide as of Sept. 30. And we asked political insiders to speculate on who wins and loses depending on which candidate gains the nomination.

Most of the key supporters listed here are actively campaigning for their candidate. Others have merely endorsed their favorites. For candidates with less big-name traction in Oregon, we’ve included prominent deep-pocket donors.

The Democrats

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton

Key Supporters
Ted Kulongoski
(Oregon governor)
Erik Sten (Portland city commissioner)
John Russell (developer, former head of the Portland Development Commission)
Josh Kardon (chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden)

Money Raised: $163,265

Winners Kardon: A gifted political infighter, he could be up for a White House staff appointment if Clinton wins.

Sten: City Hall’s savviest operator and longtime advocate for the homeless, he could be in the running for a low-level D.C. appointment, perhaps in Housing and Urban Development. (See this week's cover story for more on Sten’s immediate future.)

Kulongoski: Always nice as governor to have the ear of the White House, but his middling record as governor and Oregon’s position as a blue—and small—state in the presidential race preclude him as a VP pick.

Losers: Any Democrat who sided with an opposing campaign (see later entries). The Clintons are known for their long memories. Opponents won’t be left in the cold forever, but they’ll have to work extra hard to make amends.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards

Key Supporters
Robert Stoll
(Democratic rainmaker and law partner at Stoll Stoll Berne in Portland)
Peter Bragdon (vice president of Columbia Sportswear Co. and former chief of staff to Kulongoski)
Homer Williams (influential Portland developer)
Kari Chisholm (owner and co-editor of lefty blog Blue Oregon)

Money Raised: $274,760

Stoll: He’s Edwards’ state chairman and says he has no ambitions beyond that. But after heading state campaigns for 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and Kulongoski, Stoll may be asked to take a bigger role in Edwards’ national operation—or an ambassador’s post in 2009.

Bragdon: An Edwards win would add to his clout in Portland, where Edwards is a favorite of the cognoscenti.

Chisholm: We’re not sure Chisholm is in line to be White House blogger-in-chief. But backing the right horse can’t hurt an aspiring media mogul.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama

Key Supporters
Merrill “Tony” McPeak (retired Air Force general)
State Rep. Chip Shields (D-Portland)
State Rep. Larry Galizio (D-Tigard)
State Rep. Ben Cannon (D-Portland)

Money Raised: $237,320

Winners McPeak: He claims he’s too busy running multiple high-tech companies to delve too deeply into politics. But if he impresses Obama as national co-chair, McPeak could be in line for a Pentagon post with too much stature to resist.

Shields, et al., in the Legislature: Somebody will get to chair Obama’s Oregon campaign and make contacts on a national level. That wouldn’t hurt these three political newbies.

The Republicans

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

Key Supporters
Kevin Mannix
(former gubernatorial candidate)
Ron Saxton (former gubernatorial candidate)
Charles “Butch” Swindells (vice chair of U.S. Trust and former ambassador to New Zealand)
John Carter (CEO, Schnitzer Steel Industries)

Money Raised: $392,260

Winners Mannix: After applying to become Portland’s U.S. attorney in 2001 (losing out to Michael Mosman), he could have another shot under Romney.

Saxton: His service to Romney may be payback for help Romney provided Saxton’s 2006 campaign, when Romney was head of the Republican Governors Association. That tit-for-tat relationship would come in very handy again.

Carter: Influence in a Romney administration could help Carter shake the federal probes into bribery that have plagued his company.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani

Key Supporters
John DiLorenzo
(mega-lobbyist and law partner at Davis Wright Tremaine in Portland)
Robert Lanphere (Portland-area auto dealer)
Robert Beal (CEO of Oregon Iron Works)

Money Raised: $145,035

Winners DiLorenzo: He says he has no intention of leaving his law practice, but high-placed D.C. contacts never hurt a lobbyist.

Military contractors: In a hawkish Giuliani administration, big local defense contractors such as Freightliner and FLIR may win big.

Arizona Sen. John McCain

Key Supporters
U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith
Goli Ameri (2004 GOP congressional candidate)

Money Raised: $103,945

Winners Ameri: Appointed by President Bush but not yet confirmed by the Senate as an assistant secretary of state, the Persian-American Ameri could be McCain’s envoy to Iran or even a U.N. ambassador.

Losers Smith: After recanting his support for the Iraq war, Smith has stood by the hawkish McCain. Even with the Iraq war “going well,” it’s far from clear whether a McCain nomination in 2008 would bode well for Smith’s dicey re-election bid that same year.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee

Key Supporters
Robert Avery
(political consultant and former Lane County Republican chairman)
Gregg Harris (pastor, Household of Faith Community Church in Gresham)

Money Raised: $14,113

Winners Avery: Trying to jump-start his career as a political consultant, he began campaigning for Huckabee in Iowa after Huckabee surged in early December. That may not be enough for a future administration job, which Avery says he’d love to land.

Harris: He and other suburban mega-churches may get a chance to play at national politics under a Huckabee administration’s run at “compassionate conservatism.”

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