By editorial board • 

GOP needs to rethink its strategy in Oregon

Democrats once again swept all four statewide offices in Oregon. They also retained their supermajority status in the state Legislature, and continued to claim both the state’s U.S. Senate seats, along with four of it’s five U.S. House seats.

The GOP has not won a race for governor since 1982, or attorney general or state treasurer since 1986. Except for the late Dennis Richardson’s victory in 2016, it has not seated a secretary of state since 1980 — and that’s an office it had held continuously for 107 years when Norma Paulus completed her second term.

Former secretaries of state Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield, both of whom went on to win governorships, would no doubt be shocked to learn of the 40-year banishment. And rightly so.

So what’s wrong with Oregon’s Republican Party?

In our view, nothing a dose of common-sense moderation wouldn’t cure. It’s never going to succeed fielding candidates like QAnon supporter Jo Rae Perkins for the U.S. Senate.

We believe to the depth of our hearts that one-party rule is a recipe for disaster in a democracy. Nothing corrupts more absolutely than absolute power, so it doesn’t behoove us to trust either party with it.

That’s one reason we endorsed Republican Ron Noble for the state Legislature in House District 24 and Republican Kim Thatcher for secretary of state. We felt they might help check potential abuses.

However, when the GOP regularly appears to favor candidates from the far right, it’s not going to win much in the way of electoral endorsements, let alone electoral victories.

A moderate state demands moderate candidates — candidates in the mold of McCall, Hatfield and Paulus. To win statewide, they have to run respectably even in the unfriendly confines of the Portland Metropolitan Area.

This is a lesson the Yamhill County GOP should take to heart as well.

It not only backed an overtly Republican candidate in a non-partisan county treasurer’s race, but also waded into this year’s non-partisan city of McMinnville races. City voters firmly rejected the partisan power grab visited on their community.

We understand the party’s temptation. After all, if this county had its way, Thatcher would be headed to the Secretary of State’s Office, Perkins to the U.S. Senate, Christopher Christensen to the U.S. House, Michael Cross to the Attorney General’s Office and Jeff Gudman to the State Treasurer’s Office.

However, local voters tend to be more discerning in local races with district matters at stake. And we bless them for that.

Partisan politics has its place, but never at the city level, and rarely at the county.