Well, Oregonians, I've given it some careful thought. And I've come to the conclusion that Dwight Holton is the better choice for Oregon Attorney General.
In watching the debate on Straight Talk, I found Attorney Holton to be much more specific regarding his priorities: consumer protection, neighborhood safety, environmental protection. He has prosecutorial and administrative experience, having served as US Attorney for Oregon. He's got a long list of endorsements from organizations, law enforcement, and elected officials.
I was most impressed with his repeated opinion that we need to initiate conversations about our laws. I agree. The law is a living institution that must evolve with society. And since I'm generally of the opinion that we need to spend more on education and prevention and less on prosecution and incarceration, I was encouraged to hear Attorney Holton express a similar sentiment. And I quote: "The best way to fight crime is to prevent it in the first place."
He and Judge Rosenblum agree on many issues. They agree that medical marijuana is useful and helpful. They agree that Measure 11, the "three strikes" mandatory-sentencing law, should be reexamined (but not repealed). They both support same-sex marriage. They both believe in universal health care.
Those are Oregon values. And while Judge Rosenblum shares them, she failed to articulate them clearly. She meandered. Meandering doesn't seem like a good trait for an attorney general. I found Judge Rosenblum's positions and opinions to be boilerplate liberal chaff. (Keep in mind, I write this as a proud liberal!) She complained that mandatory sentencing restricts judicial discretion. She invoked Oregon's legislative legacy, recalling our bottle bill and other achievements. She repeatedly stated that her priorities as attorney general would be to protect vulnerable citizens (the elderly, kids).
Yes, Your Honor, we know. All of that is good, but what's the plan? How would you go about doing it?
She also insinuated she's more "Oregonian" than her opponent. I have to admit, this dog whistle caught my ear. I'm a born-and-raised Oregonian and that has burdened me with a sense of superiority, I'm afraid. But I can't go so far as to vote for an inferior candidate based on that factor.
My gut reaction, when I heard the attack ads that Ellen Rosenblum is running on KPOJ radio --the ads that label Dwight Holton as an outsider from Virginia who wants to gut Oregon's medical marijuana law and spend resources prosecuting marijuana users --was to think "Hell with him! Ellen Rosenblum has got my vote!"
But, you know, the ad was a little too shrill. It didn't pass the smell test. It seemed calculated to hit all the hot-button issues that are sure to rile up a community of "twenty-first century hippies" (as a publication in Paris recently labelled Portland). I dislike being manipulated in that way.
So Dwight Holton gets my vote. I think he'll do a fine job.
(And Oregonians, I must say, I find it satisfying and reassuring that Republicans are so toxic in this state. They don't even bother to run for statewide office. In the Beaver State, the GOP is reviled and despised. It's a sad development for traditional Oregon Republicans, with their legacy of great Oregon leaders over the years. But until they can ditch the rednecks that run the GOP on the national level, I just can't see them recovering. Not here in my house.)