Monday, May 19, 2008

The Frohnmayer Factor

If you believe that the outcome of Tuesday’s primary for the Democratic Party’s U.S. Senate nomination will determine the one-on-one match-up against Sen. Gordon Smith, think again.

As things stand now, Oregonians will be left with a three-way race. The Democratic winner is going to have to deal with “The Frohnmayer Factor.” That’s the independent candidacy of John Frohnmayer, who is staking out a hard-left positions on issues near to the hearts of many Oregon Democrats.

Frohnmayer, who is an old friend of mine, has been virtually invisible since he declared his candidacy last fall (calling for the impeachment of the president). All the press attention has gone to the hotly contested Democratic primary race between Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick.

Neither has mentioned Frohnmayer. And the press ignores his impact. Note this current Talking Points Memo story. Not a word about Frohnmayer.

But after tomorrow, the three-way race will be on, and the press and the Democratic Party will have to get real.

In my view, and as much as I hate to say it, Smith is certain to win re-election as things stand now. Frohnmayer will peel off enough Democratic voters to prevent a Democratic victory.

Of course John is adamant he can win as an independent. He points to Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont as examples of successful Senate independents.

He adds that his name is well known to Oregon voters. Brother Dave is a former state attorney general and the president of the University of Oregon. John himself was chair of the National Endowment for the Arts under George H.W. Bush until Congressional conservatives, waging culture war, forced Frohnmayer out.

As much as I like John and his positions, he is engaging in wishful thinking. With no political base, he can’t come near to matching rival campaign coffers filled by Democratic and Republican contributors and by lobbyists.

The only question left is whether Democrats can persuade John to withdraw.

Who is the most persuasive: Merkley or Novick? And how could either of them make it worth Frohnmayer’s while to step aside?

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Blogger becca said...

Actually, I believe in one of the debates Novick was asked which of his opponents he would vote for if he had to choose and he said Frohnmayer (then they told him it had to be someone who was in the room, and he said as of the, Candy Neville).

11:46 PM  

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