Election 2020

Endorsements are Spon Con for Politics. So Why Haven't We Heard from More Oregon Democrats Yet?

Oregon's highest-profile Democrats have yet to pick a favorite in the presidential race

By Julia Silverman March 4, 2020

As the dust settles from Super Tuesday, if anything is clear it might be this: endorsements, those bandwagon-hopping, full-throated expressions of support from political allies, really do matter.

Exhibit A is the candidacy of one Joe Biden. The former vice president was looking like a bit of an afterthought in the race until high-profile endorsement rolled in this week, from Democratic party heavyweights including former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, as well as a trio of former presidential hopefuls: Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Which begs the question: Which way are our local Oregon Democratic bigwigs leaning?

Only a small handful of elected officials from Oregon have made formal endorsements so far. Rep. Kurt Schrader, whose territory covers much of Clackamas County, Salem, and the Oregon Coast, was first out of the gate with a Biden endorsement, back in November.

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Val Hoyle have both endorsed Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

And that’s it. It’s a long way from 2016, when Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley made national waves by being the first member of the U.S. Senate to endorse Bernie Sanders’ first presidential bid.

This time around, Merkley has stayed on the sidelines, alongside his Democratic colleague Ron Wyden. Hank Stern, a spokesman for Wyden, said Wednesday that, “The Oregon primary is still 2 ½ months away, and he has plenty to do each day at his job working for Oregonians to improve election security, reduce prescription drug prices, ensure there are enough resources to combat the coronavirus, secure flood relief for Eastern Oregon, and much more.”

Gov. Kate Brown is also still weighing her options and has yet to make a decision, says political advisor Thomas Wheatley, though she has “spoken with a number of the Democratic candidates for President in recent months.”

Summary: Stay tuned—and follow along with the endorsements if you so choose via this excellent interactive from the folks at fivethirtyeight.com.

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