While the political chattering class devotes countless hours this week to debating Herschel Walker, something is happening in Oregon and political prognosticators should be paying attention. Weeks out from a major midterm election, FiveThirtyEight shows the Republican candidate for governor winning there.
That’s right. Oregon.
Like everywhere else, the “kitchen table” – the state of the economy, inflation, recession, and Biden and Democrats’ mishandling of the whole thing – is at the top of the list of concerns for voters. But it looks like there’s another factor in Oregon: The summer of 2020.
The state that played host to some of the worst rioting and outright anarchy in the summer of 2020 also happens to be a state where a bunch of Democrats who have taken a hardline anti-law enforcement stance are on the ballot, and it sure looks like their candidate for governor is paying a price for her party’s insanity.
Nationally, Democrats have pushed hard the notion that they are not for defunding the police. Nationally, that might be broadly true (though it is not true for a bunch of the highest profile party members, e.g., members of the Squad), but in Oregon, the “we don’t want to defund the police, that’s the Republicans” line seems to be ringing especially hollow. From June 2020 to May 2021, Portland—Oregon’s biggest city—defunded its police department by about $30 million, per the city’s law enforcement union.
That’s actually more than the amount that one of the city’s more wackadoodle politicians—Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty—proposed. Hardesty, who may be best known for alleging that police were running around starting fires in some incredibly strange false flag operation back in 2020 (and here’s what they had to say about that), wanted a mere $18 million cut from the Portland police budget. Presumably, that included a local police unit focused on gun violence, which she pushed to get rid of despite gun violence spiking during her tenure.
It should be no surprise that the Portland Police Association and the Portland Fire Bureau took a hard pass on endorsing Hardesty for re-election this year.
In Clackamas County, Oregon, Commissioner Sonya Fischer voted earlier this year to maintain a relationship with a defund-the-police group, which ties defunding to “dismantling systemic racism.” That group also called for the local sheriff’s department to have $2 million slashed from its budget, though they concede that is “not going to happen.” They also called for $50 million to be cut from the Multnomah County sheriff’s office budget—but only won a $1.8 million cut. Stop me when this sounds familiar.
Meanwhile, we have a state Senator, Deb Patterson, calling for removing school resource officers (SROs)—who are supposed to provide security in schools, something you would think progressives might prioritize in the wake of school shootings. Apparently, the issue is that Patterson thinks SROs discriminate against minority students. In fact, in Patterson’s backyard, the Salem-Kelzer school district did nix contracts that put police in middle and high schools following pressure from a group called Latinos Unidos Siempre.
These are just a few select examples that explain why, on top of what everyone else saw out of Portland in 2020, perhaps crime might be an issue hurting the Democratic gubernatorial candidate—just like it is hurting the Democratic senatorial candidate in Wisconsin, which obviously was also famously played host to 2020’s summer insanity.
Democrats have a crime problem. It is coming from their left wing, which they have not moved to contain. And it may cost them dearly not just in traditional swing states, but also those that were last truly swing states as far back as the George W Bush era.