In the Capitol that day, Kotek, a Portland Democrat, received a standing ovation from her colleagues in both parties.
Four miles from the Capitol, in the windowless studio of a Keizer radio station, Bill Post was annoyed.
Post, a radio talk-show host and state Republican party official, fired off a tweet: "Tina Kotek: wear a dress we want proof."
Within minutes, people—including Republicans— called Post out on his personal attack. He was defiant.
"As an old radio mentor once said to me: 'There is NO bad publicity in radio as long as they listen,'" Post wrote on his radio show's Facebook page later that day. "I stand by my tweet and I stand by my statements today. She is despicable and an embarrassment to our state. 2 years ago not even her own caucus knew her name, they still don't this was a politically correct move period because she's a lesbian. THAT is bullcrap."
Post's career as a radio host has been filled with angry, personal attacks. But now he has moved from the AM dial to a campaign for the state Legislature, and he's on the doorstep of being elected to the Oregon House, where he would serve alongside Kotek.
His race has become bigger than a fight over House District 25, which stretches north along the Willamette River from Post's city of Keizer to Newberg.
Post's attention-seeking brand of shock politics has the potential to alter the nature of debate in the Legislature and create even deeper divisions in Salem.
Fearing Post could become a polarizing distraction, many Republicans have turned against him and are backing former Democrat Chuck Lee, now running as an Independent Party candidate. (Republicans have a voter-registration edge of 9 percentage points over Democrats in the district.)
"I find [Post] combative, and I don't think that's what the Legislature needs," says Rep. Jim Thompson (R-Dallas), whose district neighbors the one Post is seeking to represent. âWe donât need bomb throwers.â
Post acknowledges his on-air comments have made him a target of members of both parties.
"That's been one of the biggest obstacles people have had with Bill Post the radio guy and Bill Post the guy you're talking to on the phone right now," Post tells WW. "When I'm on the air from noon to 3, I'm entertaining an audience. That is where Bill the radio guy has gotten into all kinds of trouble."
Post, 53, was born on an Air Force base in Arizona, but grew up in California before moving to Albany when he was 10. As a kid he stayed up late to hear the voices of his heroes, the AM radio Boss Jocks, whose voices carried most clearly over the night air.
"I didn't care what song they were playing," Post says. "All I wanted to know was what that DJ's name was and what he was saying. I thought those guys had the best job on the face of the earth."
While completing a bachelor's degree in history at then-Southern Oregon State College, Post started what would become a 30-plus-year career in radio by taking an overnight shift at KBOY-AM in Medford.
Radio took Post all over Oregon and eventually to Hawaii. He returned to Oregon in 1995 and filed for bankruptcy after he couldn't sell his house in Hawaii.
By 2006, Post had gone to work for KYKN-AM in Keizer. He delivered local news segments during breaks in nationally syndicated conservative talk shows. Over time he began interjecting his own comments and asides.
In April 2009, organizers of a Tea Party rally asked him to speak at the state Capitol. His appearance—cheered on by the crowd—helped lead to The Bill Post Radio Show.
The show was a perfect fit for Post, who is an evangelical Christian, pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax, anti-government and anti-same-sex marriage.
"He was very popular," said Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), a regular guest on Post's show. When Thatcher decided not to seek re-election, she tapped Post to replace her. "He's been so in touch with regular folks on policy issues, I think he will do a good job," she says.
Post landed endorsements from groups such as Oregon Family Council and Oregon Right to Life, which has since contributed more than one-third of the $174,000 Post has raised for his campaign. In the primary, he handily beat Republican Barbara Jensen, an information management consultant, with 55 percent of the vote.
During the race, Post stayed on the air, broadcasting daily while also running for office. He agreed to take leave from his radio show only after Jensen complained Post was violating Federal Communications Commission rules. After the primary, Post says, KYKN let him go. (Station officials didn't respond to repeated requests for an interview.)
Post has continued to broadcast his show over the Internet. "People can easily misconstrue the littlest things and turn it into whatever they want to turn it into," he says. "I've been putting up with that for the five years of my show."
Many of his personal attacks have been aimed at national figures. On Oct. 2, for example, Post accused President Obama, who has acknowledged smoking marijuana when he was younger, of still getting high.
"There is a reason why he always seems a little distracted." Post said." I think that he is still taking hits. I really do. I do. I think he hits on the bong every once in a while, still. Well, partly to get away from Michelle, but partly because he's been doing it since high school."
On Sept. 22, while talking about "climate-change nuts," he called Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a "pimple on your daddy's butt" and "a hypocritical scum bag." "God rest the soul of your father," Post said. "He is a wonderful man, but you're not."
Many of Post's shots are aimed at women, even when they first appear self-deprecating.
"I can't stand kids," Post said during his Internet radio show Sept. 30. "I really can't. I hate to burst any bubbles, but I really can't stand kids. They're dirty, they're smelly, they carry little sicknesses and things, I just don't like being around them."
Post then noted he has a son, who is now 22. "I've never changed a diaper in my life," he said, "and we have a thing where guys don't change the diapers. Anyway, you call one of the ladies."
Post also remains focused on Kotek. On May 20, 2013, Post held a caption contest on his blog featuring a photo of Gov. Kitzhaber and Kotek at her swearing-in as House speaker. Some of the entries Post received on his site: "I think they are sharing Viagra," "Tina, you should really try wearing a dress," and "Not so close please, I don't kiss guys."
"This is 2013," Kotek told WW when asked about Post's remarks. "Haven't we moved beyond men telling women how to dress?"
On Jan. 9, 2014, Post claimed in a Twitter exchange with Blue Oregon editor Carla Axtman that Kotek had never held a job. The Oregonian's PolitiFact fact-checked the statement and reported that Kotek has held many jobs, including one as an administrator for the Oregon Food Bank.
Post told the newspaper: "Define 'job' for me. I don't know her history. I just pulled that out of my hat." The Oregonian said Post showed "an extreme disregard for the truth," giving him PolitiFact's lowest score for accuracy, "Pants on Fire."
"Maybe Bill has a civic record, but I don't know it," says Rep. Vicki Berger, (R-Salem), who is leaving the Legislature this year after six terms in office and is backing Post's opponent, Lee. "Most candidates spend a lot of time trying to define themselves, but he comes already defined by his radio show."
"I believe he is a Tea Party type," adds former state Rep. Vic Backlund, a Republican from Keizer who is also backing Lee. "If Bill is elected, I think it will continue to enforce a trend towards more conservatism, more antigovernment. Bill Post is a right-wing zealot."
House Republican leaders, however, are clear that they see Post as a good candidate.
"We support Bill Post 100 percent," says Kara Walker, communications director for the House Republicans' Promote Oregon Leadership PAC. "Bill's strengths will be his passion for the issues and his passion for the voters in his district. Not every single member is going to agree with their colleagues."
Post says he has no particular political agenda aside from fighting the status quo.
"All the Legislature is supposed to do is craft, create and balance a budget, and go home," Post says "I would like to create a 'no bills' bill. I say that somewhat tongue in cheek, but somewhat not. Create a budget and go home."
Post thinks that if he's elected, he can overcome the perceptions he's created about himself.
"This whole summer, I have spent most of my time talking to members of the caucus, members of the lobby and, of course, the general voting population to let them see that Bill Post and The Bill Post Radio Show are two different things," he says. "Once they've seen that and they've sat down with me, they go, âYouâre not like that guy on the radio.ââ