Every year, the Oregon Republicans host a conference at the Oregon Coast called the Dorchester Conference, named after the hotel where the conference was first held. Back in the days when the Republican party dominated the state, it was common to find governors and senators in attendance. National political figures would also visit the conference.
But nowadays not so. Currently Oregon has zero (that's zip, nada, bupkis) Republican office holders. The Republicans have not won a gubernatorial race here since 1982. Traditionally the offices of attorney general and of secretary of state (Oregon mercifully has no office of lieutenant governor) have been looked upon as the basis for a run for the governorship. But in 2012, the Republicans didn't even run someone in the primary for the AG spot (their candidate ended up being a last minute write-in), and their heavily-funded SoS candidate was defeated by 51 to 43%.
Of the five congressional seats, only one is head by a Republican, Greg Walden, which makes him the de facto chief of the (much reduced) Oregon Republican Party.
This was reported by Oregonlive.com (link. According to Oregonlive.com, Walden gave a speech at this years conference where he blamed some loudmouth Republicans for all the party's woes.
This may be a video of Walden's speech, I wasn't there, so I'm not quite sure ...
Walden, who comes from Oregon's Second District, is the head of the Republican Party's house elections campaign op, so what he's saying at Dorchester may give a hint of the R's 2014 campaign themes.
Oregonlive.com reported what was probably a more accurate version of Walden's remarks (link)
"Our principles are right, but we don't always deliver our message well," Walden told about 400 people gathered at the Republican issues conference. "We have some members of our party who have frankly caused us all problems in the way they have talked about certain issues."Yep, you got it. The same old Republican response. Change the label on the dog food can and call it "canine steak bits." But it's still dog food, and if the dogs didn't eat it last time, they aren't going to eat it now.
Walden continues with the griping about how the Democrats (supposedly) have a technically superior software assistance, and how (correctly, it appears to me) the Ds have a superior cadre of volunteers and GOTV operation. Ultimately however, Walden just doesn't get it:
"We do not need to moderate this party, but we do need to modernize," said Rodgers, arguing that Republicans need to sound less like bookkeepers and more like political leaders who can convince voters they care about all segments of the population.The problem isn't that the Republicans sound like bookkeepers -- that's rich considering the drunken abandon with which they spent money under President Cheney -- but they sound like wingnuts (because, ah, they ARE wingnuts?).
The smart Republicans in Oregon have long known this. The last really strong Republican politician in the state, David Frohnmayer, whose gubernatorial campaign in 1990 was defeated by wingnut vote-splitting with a third party candidate, is quoted as having said, back in 1987 (link):
"We are not in danger of extinction,'' said Frohnmayer. "We're in danger of larceny, it seems to me.''The larceny being of course the theft of the once-mainstream (and therefore dominant) Oregon R party by the wingnut fringe.
What Republicans need to do is get down on their knees and beg forgiveness of women, Hispanics, gays, people on the East and West coasts, 47 percenters, and I guess, pretty much everyone except the Koch brothers.
Walden's failure to identify the real cause of his party's defeat (the voters don't like their policies) reminds me of another (likely) Republican ...