Friday, December 08, 2006

Sumner (HD18) Suddenly Quits House For Health Reasons

Just reported over at Blue Oregon:
This hasn't been reported anywhere yet, but we've just confirmed that Representative Mac Sumner (R-Molalla) resigned from the Oregon Legislature today -- effective at 5 p.m -- in a letter to the Secretary of State.

In his resignation letter, he cites his health and a desire to be with his family. Through the election cycle, Rep. Sumner was battling lung cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.
We certainly wish Rep. Sumner the best of health and wishes for recovery. Nobody wanted to see this happen.

But something's gnawing at me, because before the election I was warned this WOULD happen. A couple days before Halloween, I got this email from someone I do not know:
The Republican machine is running a candidate in HD 18 who they know will never serve a day in the next legislative session and no one is talking about it! Mac Sumner has terminal lung cancer (see attached image of his last public appearance at a candidate's forum in early October) According to sources who know Sumner, he's not expected to live past January. Sumner's campaign is being run by Chuck Adams & Co. and they're throwing the usual slime at Democrat Jim Gilbert who HAS A REALLY GOOD CHANCE OF WINNING THIS RACE! Local newspapers are not covering this story so it's up to the blogosphere to reveal the truth - HELP!!
Three days later, I got a followup that said "A so called Republican "in the know" is denying Sumner's demise. Don't believe it." What the heck could we do with this information, I wondered? There certainly wasn't anyone who was going to level with us, if in fact Sumner and/or the state GOP were hiding the true nature of his condition. And it's such a touchy subject that nosing around like the Angel of Death in this poor guy's business just didn't seem appropriate.

But I did try to do a little dilligence on the subject. I personally called the Sumners, identifying myself but asking simply what Mac's "campaign appearance schedule" looked like until the election, and spoke with his wife/manager. She said he'd just gotten back from the doctor, and the prognosis was "great." I asked if he'd definitely be able to serve, then, and she said that yes he would be.

It literally hasn't been more than 6 weeks since I talked to Mrs. Sumner. People take a turn for the worse unexpectedly all the time, and maybe Mac was just too hopeful and optimistic for his own good...but I can't help thinking that somebody (cough...WayneScott...cough) strongly encouraged him to stay in the race until after the election, regardless. Or as our tipster mentioned, perhaps Chuck Adams. I don't have the first bit of information to support the idea that there was a collusive agreement to hide Sumner's condition, but Adams is such a Rovian slimeball when it comes to political tricks, that I have no doubt he'd be capable of it.

At BlueO, a commenter recalled the process for replacement as being one where the county party apparatus submits a list of potentials, and the county commission selects one. The Clackamas County Commission is a three-member board, including new Democratic member Lynn Peterson, who ousted Republican Larry Sowa in November--changing the makeup of the Commission from 1-2 to 2-1 Democratic. Isn't THAT handy! If this procedure is the correct one, obviously a Republican will still fill the seat, but there will have to be some effort to moderate the potential choices, in order to pass the Commission's muster.

I hate to be ghoulish in any way about this; the most important thing is Sumner's ongoing health, and it sounds like it's probably best for everyone that he not serve. After talking with Mrs. Sumner before the election and considering what other information there was besides an uncorroborated allegation, I felt that I just didn't have the necessary lust for the jugular to make an issue of it before the election, so I let it slide without comment. But it's more than a little unsettling to have been told beforehand exactly how it would go down--and then to have it go down exactly that way. Somehow our tipster even knew enough to suggest that he wouldn't serve a single day of the new term. Just lucky? Or in the know?

If you're still reading this, tipster, good going!--and sorry we didn't press this more on your behalf. Now that it's come to pass, we'd love to hear from you again, perhaps with some more info on how you came to know this would happen, and whether any funny business can be likely proved from what you know.