The Senator began by thanking the audience for coming out and then launched directly into question and answers. The first question was kind of a gimme, how old and how are his new twins? They're 4 mos, doing fine and he looks forward to bringing them back to Oregon.
From there the real questions began and the Senator answered them, with the exception that he didn't want to engage in partisan politics in a Townhall meeting, and he stuck to that. No (R) slams or GWB slams, straight ahead what affects this nation and us at his Senatorial level. Health Care and his Fair Flatter Tax were discussed as well as everything from energy policy to wolves. The Senator wished to make clear that health costs are a huge drag on the economy and that the effects run rght through the Tax Code. He is attempting to get the oil companies to pay their royalties for public resource drilling and to pare down their tax breaks to put that money to use in alternative energy. He sees the current county payments for timber as a stopgap measure, he was interested in my assertion that what the Feds actually owe is some payment in lieu of property tax and that it should be based in some form on the value of the land that is removed from our tax base. He encouraged me to put it in writing - I need more writing projects (after bragging about Blogburst that sounds weak). I'm not going to go into great detail here, the Baker City Herald will have a nice write up of it and I'm not going to step on my friend Mike Sullivan's work - it will be excellent.
Afterward Sen. Wyden and his party came to a Baker County Democrats potluck.
L-R Marilyn Dudeck, Co. Chair, Judy Trohkimoinen OEA, Senator, furface(me) Co Vice-chair
This dinner/meeting was a bit more partisan. Since you weren't there I'm not going to tell you, other than that the Senator was engaging and he answered very partisan and difficult questions in a forthright manner. Even when the answer was not necessarily just what the majority wished to hear he played it straight and explained certain political considerations leading to those answers. It is pretty darn reassuring to have a US Senator in a small setting take you seriously, he left a happy group of not too easily impressed folks. I'm not trying to make all this sound mysterious, but this was a conversation amongst Democrats for Democrats. I will tell you this much, Sen Wyden would like to work with another Democratic Senator and he did not specify whom. He also is an uncommitted Super Delegate. That's all you get. No fodder for blog wars. No Press present.
I'd like to publicly thank the Baker County Democrats who brought food and great attitudes to this get together and the Senator's staffers, Wayne Kinney and Kathleen Cathey, for helping and Senator Ron Wyden for making time for a small Co. Party. It makes a difference out here in the hinterlands. You better believe, that.