October 26th, 2010 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Long-time and Big-time Democratic Contributor Writes Rare Check to Republican

Ben Westlund and Win McCormack

For anybody who pays attention to money in Oregon politics, Win McCormack's name is a familiar one.

The longtime Portland publisher (pictured above on the right with the late State Treasurer Ben Westlund at the 2008 Democratic National Convention) is always among the leading donors to Democratic candidates and progressive causes. In the past year alone, McCormack has given more than $350,000, according to state filings. He supported tax-increasing Measures 66 and 67 in January, is among Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber's largest supporters and recently wrote the state Senate Democratic caucus a $50,000 check.

So it was a pretty big surprise that McCormack last week wrote a $2,500 check to Shawn Lindsay, the Republican candidate in House District 30 (Hillsboro and North Plains). The contest between Lindsay and Democratic candidate Doug Ainge is expected to be one of the most closely contested legislative races in the metro area.

McCormack says he's only written a check to one other Oregon Republican in his decades of political involvement. That came when Democrat Harry Lonsdale ran in 1990 against then-U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) and Lonsdale wrote a letter to the Bend Bulletin criticizing media coverage of the Rajneesh cult, which owned a huge and sinister compound near Antelope, Ore. (McCormack, who edited Oregon Magazine during those years, has recently published "The Rajneesh Chronicles" a collection of reporting on one of the most bizarre chapters of recent Oregon history).

So what compelled McCormack to cross party lines in 2010 to support a first-time GOP candidate?

McCormack says he's ticked off about an anti-sales tax mail campaign that Oregon's House Democrats have waged against Republicans and wanted to send a message.

"I'm a strong supporter of a sales tax and upset about the irresponsible campaigning House Democrats have engaged in," McCormack says. "This is a warning shot to the House caucus to stop it."

He says he found it troubling that Ainge previously wrote an op-ed in The Oregonian supporting a sales tax only to try to bash Lindsay with a specious allegation of supporting a 30 percent sales tax (an allegation which is unsupported and which Lindsay denies)

McCormack says he doesn't know Lindsay but chose to send the Republican a check after learning of Ainge's flip-flop. "The fact that WW, The Oregonian and the Oregon Business Association endorsed him [Lindsay] was good enough for me," McCormack says.
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