Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pantry Pride: Gordon, You Suck. Thank You, Come Again!

As Gordon Smith continues trying to find the sweet spot of re-electability, tacking rightward again this week by rejecting the immigration bill in a move that some conservatives say will bring them home to him, he has found the intersection of his promises--at the corner of Marlboro Way and Joe Camel Lane.

Smith's support for both the Oregon Healthy Kids plan that funded child health care by taxing cigarettes, and the federal excise tax for funding child health care (sound familiar?) was not exactly a reach, since as many as 3/4 of Oregonians are OK with it. So while surely he imagines it to be a feather in his "I'm not really all that Republican" cap, many regular Republicans agree with the plan as well. The hardcore anti-tax wing of the party is pissed, however:
Plaid Pantry Inc.'s president and CEO Chris Girard said he will no longer support the lawmaker either financially or personally, due to the senator's current stance on tobacco tax legislation.

Early in his campaign, Smith and Girard discussed the importance of the tobacco and alcohol categories to Plaid Pantries, and Smith's support of small business, according to the letter. Now, with Smith supporting a federal excise tax and state cigarette tax increase, Girard wrote that he can no longer support the senator.
That kinda reads like a Dear John letter, doesn't it? I actually have a real problem with the CEO of Pantry Pride being so shortsighted and self-interested that a vote like this regarding his business overrides anything else the guy has ever done. I could see you leaving a politician over the war, or scandal, or even being "too weak on immigration" I guess. But even after acknowledging he'll probably sell fewer cigarettes because of the tax, is he really predicating his vote for US Senate--a body of 100 serving 300 million people--on his bottom line for smokes? Seems awfully shallow.

Shallow or not, Girard doesn't just own a few stores (and really, 104 stores with about $115mil in business {pdf} is not anybody's idea of "small"), and he also happens to be head of the Oregon Neighborhood Store Association, a small player in the Salem money game but with a visible presence that serves as the Oregon face of the National Association of Convenience Stores, which IS an active national lobbying player. He may not be a small businessman, but many people who own little stores like that are. And who knows how many Girard is taking with him.

CNN very helpfully provides a PDF of the letter from Girard to Smith. Damn, he's all totally ticked off and stuff (pdf}, isn't he?

Labels: , , ,