Friday, May 18, 2007

Bates In the Race? -- LO Officially in 'Blogosphere'?

Now that Earl has sent his regrets, those who have not yet decided to dance with the girl who really wants to go with us to the prom, have another potential suitor for the party: Ashland State Senator Alan Bates. The guy's 62, so he's a touch old to become a freshman Senator--but there are certainly older coots hanging out in the Senate cafe right now {cough--McCAIN--cough}. Apparently there have been weeks of speculation about his entry into the race for US Senate, which according to the Tidings ended with Bates' suggestion that he'll decide soon about whether he's running. Hmmm...that doesn't really seem like we are able to stop speculating, but at least the speculation that he is in fact speculating can finally end. Speculatively, at least.

As you can see by reading the piece, I was not totally in the dark about Bates' possible candidacy when it was published--the reporter called me and asked me about it a few days ago. I had heard once briefly from someone that Bates might be running, but without any statements or other evidence to back him up, and so my comments to the Tidings specifically on Bates are really kind of bland and unhelpful.

Those questions came at the end of our conversation. What I thought I was primarily being asked about was Smith's vulnerability, and as you see I did get a chance to offer some thoughts on that. Unfortunately, the ones that got put together and used are a touch confusing. Let's review:
Torrid Joe, editor of the blog Loaded Orygun, said Smith is "absolutely vulnerable," pointing to an April Survey-USA poll in which Smith had a 57 percent approval rating among conservatives and a 42 percent rating among liberals.

Alan Bates, he added, has "a good record and is well appreciated by his district," but warned that unseating an incumbent is rarely easy, especially since they enjoy franking privileges that allows them to send mail for free, to get their name out to voters.
First of all, 100% beautiful that the Ashland Tidings cited me as Torrid Joe. Many people know my name; many more don't--but all of them know who I write as, and I think it's silly to force someone to use their real name if they intentionally use a different one as part of their craft. It's like having to refer to Madonna as Ms. Ciccone Penn. So that part they nailed.

The rest of it is accurate in that I said those things in partial answer to the corresponding questions--but something got lost in the translation. It's true that Smith is at 57/42 support on opposite sides of the spectrum, and that's low from the right and frankly rather high on the left--but that's not the most important thing, and the thing I said first, which was that Smith was teetering on 50% overall approval. That's the bleeding edge of an incumbent ripe for a takedown, and it's the most relevant number this far out. Sadly, I am left making an incoherent point as printed.

Similarly, I did say that franking was a privilege of the incumbency, and Senators definitely abuse it during election season--but I never said it was an advantage 'especially' because of the franking privilege, as if it were the ace of spades or something. I admit I probably should have offered up "huge name recognition" or "easy fundraising" or "free media" instead of franking, but it was the first thing that came to mind. We'll call that one on me, and the other one on the Tidings, OK?

It was flattering to be asked, and it is to ADT's strong credit that they allow their reporters to even consider what is coming from the blogosphere. I have hogged this account up with my own narcissistic view of it, but Kari and local man John Doty of Blue Oregon are also quoted, and several other people are consulted for their viewpoints. It was a thorough look at what frankly was a story with little beyond the lead: Bates may run. Good on the Tidings to fill it up with relevant, related information, including Bates' major push with Ben Westlund (and away from Goobernor Kitz) on health care reform. If that's how you're going to run your paper, call us anytime.