A group of four community leaders led by former Gov. Barbara Roberts
today sent a letter
[PDF] to Republican state Senate candidates in Oregon
asking them to publicly repudiate pollster Dennis Oliver Woods
, who espoused extreme views toward women, African-Americans and gays in a 1998 book "Discipling the Nations" and more recently on a couple of websites.
As WW reported
last week, Woods has earned $135,000 in the past three years polling for the Senate Republican caucus as well as a number of conservative interest groups. Late last week, several Democratic Senate candidates publicly sent letters to their GOP opponents asking them to distance themselves from Woods. His Damascus-based company, Target Market Strategies, has polled several Oregon Senate races this year.
So far, no Republican candidate has officially distanced himself or herself from Woods. In an endorsement interview with WW
on Tuesday, Mary Kremer, the GOP candidate in Senate District 19 (which includes Lake Oswego, Tualatin and parts of Washington and Clackamas counties) did say she was "appalled" by some of the views Woods has expressed.
In addition to Roberts, the writers of the letter released today are state Rep. Lew Frederick (D-Portland); Jeana Frazzini, the executive director of Basic Rights Oregon and the Rev. Chuck Currie of Portland's United Church of Christ. They say Woods' writings that advocate death for gays, as well as question whether women should be able to vote or whether slavery was such a bad thing, cross the line of reasonable speech.
"While disagreement and dissent during an election year are both normal and natural, hatred is unacceptable," says the letter. "Oregon must have leaders that reject intolerance and stand up for what's right, regardless of the consequences. There is nothing right or good about a campaign advisor like Dennis Oliver Woods. We ask you to separate yourself from Mr. Woods immediately."
Updated at 1:55 pm on Sept 30., with the following statement from Senate Republican caucus spokesman Michael Gay:
"The premise of this attack is that the vendor had some sort of consulting role with the caucus," Gay writes in an email. "In reality he was nothing more than a telemarketing vendor who conducted polls. The vendor has never been an advisor or spokesman for any of our candidates. When hiring vendors, we make our decision based on price and quality of product. Prior to the attack leveled by Democrat political consultants, we were unaware of the vendor's beliefs on these or any other issues. Never the less, we are no longer employing the services of the vendor. This was a non-issue a week ago and remains a non-issue today.
This is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to distract from the real issues. Democrats don't want to have a debate based on the issues of jobs and the economy because they have lost the support of voters.
What should be of concern to Oregonians is that this type of guilt by association game begins a race to the bottom. We anticipate these attacks will backfire as voters realize they are intended to distract from the issues of high unemployment and a deepening recession."