Last Sunday, Bus Project volunteers barreled smack into the anti-Portland fever burning ever hotter in Clackamas County.
Every election cycle, Portland voter registration group loads up its vehicle with volunteers and goes out to knock in doors in different parts of the state, usually although not always on behalf of Democratic candidates or causes.
But the recent Bus trip to the Clackamas County town of Happy Valley was preceded by a flyer produced by the Promote Oregon Leadership PAC, the campaign arm of the Oregon House Republicans. Flyers distributed throughout House District 51, where incumbent Patrick Sheehan (R-Clackamas) faces Democratic challenger Shemia Fagan, urged potential voters to resist the sway of Portland activists who would allegedly attempt to seduce residents with “Downtown Portland Values.” (An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the flyers were distributed in District 48, which formerly included Happy Valley.)
Such values, the flyer said, include supporting “bike lanes, taxpayer funded rooftop gardens and sustainability centers.” No mention of more telling Portland identifiers such as bagpipe-unicycling.
Adorning the flyer is an identity-concealed Portland Bus Project activist sporting a telltale “99%” button along with an accusatory arrow implicating him or her as a supporter of the Occupy Movement. On the flip-side is a short list of defensive questions which take aim at Democratic candidates’ policies concerning Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and tort reform. The questions also take issue with Bus Project activists purported ignorance of their own candidates’ characters.
Nick Smith, a spokesman for the House Republicans says the purpose of the flyer was to make sure Happy Valley residents knew who was knocking on their doors.
"The Bus Project is a just part of the Democratic political machine," Smith says. "The mail piece is simply intended to inform voters of their bitterly partisan, urban Portland agenda."
Caitlin Baggott, Executive Director of the Bus Project, has always maintained that the Bus promotes progressive rather than partisan values. She calls the flyer “disappointing.”
“Our mission is to get young people involved, educated and out to vote all over Oregon,” Baggott says. “And we’re going to keep doing that.”