Friday, February 23, 2007

Wayne Scott: Permanent Minority Leader

The Big Dog is skeptical that GOP House Minority Leader Wayne Scott has enough votes to keep the (warning PDF) Healthy Kids cigarette tax plan from passing:

Here's the question of the day (and maybe the question of the year): Is Wayne Scott actually doing a count of his caucus members? And if he is, are we sure that they're giving him a true count?

After all, Wayne Scott specializes in retribution and power plays. In Wayne's World, dissent isn't tolerated.

Will anyone be surprised if a handful of Republican legislators are keeping their opinions to themselves -- only to deliver a surprise when the vote hits the floor?

Kari may be on to something.

The Democrats have a 31 vote majority in the House. If all of the Dems vote for the tax hike (which seems plausible), they only need five more votes to pass the tax.

The Oregon House Republicans are ripe for a revolt against Scott on this. A large number of GOP Reps are in districts where in 2002, voters supported a hike in the cigarette tax.

For example:

Scott Bruun (R-West Linn) 73.3%

Chuck Burley (R-Bend) 68.2%

John Lim (R-Gresham) 67.5%

Jerry Krummel (R-Wilsonville) 68.9%

Kevin Cameron (R-Salem) 65.7%

Vicki Berger (R-Salem) 71.7%

Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) 63.7%

Sal Esquivel (R-Medford)64.8%

Seven additional GOP held districts are also over the 60% mark, including Scott's own district in Canby at 63.3%.

Scott might be able to get away with it in his district because he's dirty enough to steamroll his opponents--although its getting harder. But he's asking the rest of his people to commit political suicide with their opposition to this tax for the purposes of ensuring all kids have access to health care in Oregon.

Its unlikely that attitudes in Oregon have undergone a vast change in the last five years, especially with the escalation in health care costs. Oregonians want kids to have access to affordable health care--and don't seem to have a problem with raising taxes on cigarettes.

Wayne Scott seems to be putting himself into the position of permanent Minority Leader.