Sunday, February 19, 2006

More on Multco Dems Endorsement Meeting

As fans of the late Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa know, his classic Rashomon is a masterpiece of the notion that truth is largely informed by the perspective of the teller. Intentional bias, unintentional prejudice, and simply poor communication all contribute to an event that looks different depending on who you ask.

In the wake of an event that passed without prior mention at LoadedO or elsewhere (perhaps wrongly), some stories have cropped up after the fact. As Carla reported this afternoon, the Multnomah County Democrats met for three days and hammered out their recommendations for all the local races, partisan and non-. Most of the endorsements were uneventful, although there were some interesting notes that I'll get to.

But before we had even read over their choices, anonymously strange comments appeared in an entirely unrelated thread, talking darkly about malfeasance and discord at the meetings. It had almost the same flavor as random anonymous comments about Ben Westlund at Blue Oregon this past week. Couple that with the stage whispers about "signature conspiracies" for the failed VOE repeal, and you've got a sudden pattern of unsubstantiated...bullshit is really the best word for it.

Back to the meeting, however. The O ran a blurb in the printed editions today, running the headline that Kulongoski failed to get the endorsement. It wasn't too surprising, I figured, given available candidates further to the left. But it turns out that there were far less ideological reasons at play:
Gavin White, chairman of the Multnomah Democratic Central Committee, said the biggest reason Kulongoski didn't receive an endorsement is that he failed to show up for a meeting at Portland State University, where about 35 candidates for various offices fielded questions.
"Had he been in the room, he probably would have been endorsed," White said. "Pete Sorenson and Jim Hill both made powerful speeches that spoke to our values and out platform."
The governor didn't show up because he was at a previously scheduled event, said Cameron Johnson, Kulongoski's campaign manager.

So they didn't endorse him out of spite? Because he had another gig and wasn't there? That's a poor reason. Maybe it wasn't the only reason, but complaining because you didn't get the rousing speech from the governor is a little petty.

The state committee agreed, according to the O's article, saying that counties are discouraged from endorsing in an uncoordinated fashion, and that Portland's was poorly organized (and thus perhaps not such a smart use of Kulongoski's time). I won't step into the middle of that one, but while it's a failure to endorse the titular head of the state party, it's also NOT a statement of opposition. As White indicated, the county will support the eventual Democratic nominee. But Ted will know he's choice #3 from the state's biggest Dem office, if and when he gets the primary nod. Suppose the Gov is cruising in September and October; will he be considering raising money for vital Multno races like Rob Brading's?

While Kulongoski may not have noticed, Jim Hill did--at first, anyway. As of 10pm tonight, one of the top 5 headlines at was this one: "Multnomah County Dems Endorse Two Candidates - Neither are Ted," by the Jim Hill for Governor site. I read it earlier, and essentially it crowed about the fact that Ted must not be all that popular, if he couldn't even get the endorsement from the Multco Dems. I wish I could link to it for you, but this is what's there now--nothing. I'm guessing he read White's comments and realized it was a scheduling tiff, not a bold ideological rejection of Kulongoski.

As for White and the Dems, Treasurer Moses Ross gives an eyewitness account minus discussion of any cranks, and White backed that up in response to questions about the meeting. The only controversial thing about the meetings would seem to be the Ted snub, and that's clearly not what the commenters are referring to. I suppose if this is the last we hear of them, we'll know it's the same kind of commenter hit-and-run hackjob I described above.

By the way, how does Pete Sorenson feel about being endorsed? Silent, if you ask his website. In fact, he's not really said much of anything since last September (although he's keeping his events schedule current). Here's your big moment, Pete! Ted passed up the props, and Hill is busy retracting! What's your reaction?