Sunday, April 30, 2006

Another Endorsement

The Source - Bend, OR
Vol. 10, Issue 17, April 27, 2006
This is a partial quote of the Candidate Endorsements, it is complete regarding myself. I thank the Editorial Staff.

Chuck Butcher For Congress

In some past elections the Democrats have had trouble fielding even one candidate in the Republican-dominated 2nd Congressional District. Maybe it's a reaction to the disastrous Bush presidency or the stink of corruption enveloping Republican congressional ranks, but this year there are four -- three impressively qualified, well-dressed, well-spoken, conventional candidates, and one oddball.
We're going with the oddball, and we'll tell you why.
Charles H. "Chuck" Butcher of Baker City is not your garden-variety Democrat. He's a blue-collar guy who owns a construction business. He has a bushy beard that makes him look a little like pre-Civil War abolitionist firebrand John Brown. He drives around in a cool screaming-yellow pickup with his campaign sign on the side. Perhaps most unconventionally, he's anti-gun control.
The three other aspirants for Rep. Greg Walden's job are Dan Davis, a businessman from Jacksonville; Scott Silver of Bend, director of Wild Wilderness, and Carol Voisin of Ashland, who teaches at Southern Oregon University.
All of them are intelligent, well-informed about the issues, articulate and sincere. All of them take the right (i.e., left) positions on the issues -- Iraq, budget deficits, health care, our increasingly inequitable tax system, the corruption of government by corporate PACs and the K Street Mob. They are pretty much your standard Democratic candidates.
And that's the problem.
All of the Democrats in this race have a great message. But a great message doesn't get you very far if you can't get people to listen to it. For decades, that's been the Democratic Party's problem east of the Cascades. If the party is ever going to have a shot at breaking the Republican monopoly in the 2nd District, its candidates need to start reaching voters outside the small progressive enclaves of Ashland and Bend.

We think Chuck Butcher is a guy who just might do it.
As he himself puts it, he's not a "scary Democrat" -- one who fits the Chardonnay-sipping, brie-eating, fancy-talking, "elitist" stereotype foisted on the public by right-wing propagandists. He looks and talks like a guy who goes hunting and follows NASCAR.
Butcher's stand on the major issues is as populist as any of his rivals -- maybe more so. He wants U.S. troops out of Iraq in "a matter of months." He calls for an end to trickle-down economics -- which he calls "tinkle-down economics." He wants the Patriot Act scrapped and civil liberties respected. He advocates a universal single-payer health care system.
Butcher expresses these ideas in pithy, down-to-earth language, often with a touch of wry humor. By not being a stereotypical "scary Democrat" he believes he can "have a conversation" with blue-collar voters in the district, and that once he gets that conversation going his populist positions on issues like jobs, health care and taxes will resonate with them. He hopes this strategy will enable him to "peel off" the less hard-core Republicans and many independents, who, combined with loyal Democrats, will give him enough votes to win.
We're skeptical about that. Republicans are facing a rough time this year, and there's more than an outside chance they'll lose their House majority -- but losing the 2nd District would require a political tsunami of a magnitude not seen since the 1930s. And Walden, at least so far, has not been touched by the corruption scandals swirling around other Republicans.
So 2006 probably isn't going to be the year the Democrats take back this congressional seat. But this year's campaign could lay the foundation for doing it in 2008 or 2010 or somewhere down the road. It could start a dialogue between Democrats and the voters who should be their natural constituency -- working-class and middle-class people who are consistently screwed by Republican policies. We hope Chuck Butcher can jumpstart that dialogue.

Just one word of advice if you win the nomination, Chuck: Trim the beard.

I got a little closer to the trimming scissors this week, not much closer, but a little.

2 comments:

verasoie said...

Chuck,

This is coming a bit late, but congrats on the endorsement. They spell out many of the reasons I would have voted for you if I lived in your district. Just curious, what type of paper is The Source? Is it an alternative weekly or something like that? They speak rather harshly of Republicans (and glowingly of Democrats, particularly you), so I imagine it's not the main newspaper in Bend?

Chuck Butcher said...

An alt weekly if I've' got it right. Nice folks.