Monday, March 27, 2006

Why can't I support Westlund?

Something is keeping me from being able to support Ben Westlund and I can't quite put my finger on it.

He's got a 100% rating from NARAL, which is a biggie for me. In my experience, prochoice legislators also tend to be consistently strong on civil rights.

Westlund has an interesting tax proposal that I don't think has a shot in hell. Mostly because it doesn't eliminate income taxes before installing a sales tax. But its a can be tweaked..and its important to him.

He's big on the HOPE for Oregon healthcare plan--which makes healthcare a fundamental right for all Oregonians. Love that one, too.

So what is it? What's bugging me?

It might be the gay marriage issue. Westlund's website says he was big on SB 1000 (Civil unions for gays and lesbians). But he voted against gay marriage. I've had trouble with this from a lot of people. Its an advocacy of the "separate but equal" doctrine--and I can't stand it.

Maybe its because he was a Republican..and the Republican Party in this state and this nation has demonstrated such a complete and utter lack of competence in governance. Is Westlund tarnished by his association with them?

It could be that I'm skeptical he'll be able to really work with the legislature. Depending on how things shake out in November, the Dems could hold both chambers. This would be the chance for truely progressive legislation to come out of Salem to benefit the citizens of Oregon. How much of that is Westlund really willing to support? How much of the old GOP guard is he still beholden to, despite losing his GOP affiliation? And if the legislature is split..with the GOP still holding a chamber, how will he deal with them?

I'm absolutely open to seeing someone other than Ted in the job. Ted has demonstrated that he can't or won't work with the legislature. Progressives should have owned Salem last session. There's no excuse for it and Kulongoski was a major piece of that failure.

But right now I'm not seeing a huge improvement if Westlund takes those reins.

I'd love it if someone could really convince me otherwise.