AFL-CIO weighs in on primary election

SALEM - The Oregon AFL-CIO issued its political endorsements for the May 2000 primary election following a meeting March 9 of its Committee on Political Education (COPE).

In statewide races, COPE endorsed Bill Bradbury for secretary of state and Hardy Myers for attorney general. Both incumbents are running unopposed in the Democratic primary but will face stiff competition in November's general election.

Five men have filed for the Oregon Supreme Court seat being vacated by George Van Hoomissen. The state labor federation endorsed two of those candidates - appellate Judge Paul De Muniz and Beaverton attorney Charles Merten. A third candidate is Greg Byrne, an attorney for Bill Sizemore, the anti-union executive director of Oregon Taxpayers United, who is expected to raise a lot of money in the race. If no candidate receives a 50 percent plus one majority in May, the top two vote-getters will face off in November.

COPE took no action in the Democratic primary race for state treasurer. Motions to endorse first Gary Bruebaker, then Randall Edwards, then both candidates, failed to garner a required two-thirds majority vote. Bruebaker is the deputy state treasurer under Democrat Jim Hill, who is prevented from running for re-election because of term limits. Hill will run for governor in 2002. Edwards has served as a state representative from Portland for the last two terms. The small business owner compiled a cumulative 79 percent COPE voting record as tracked by the Oregon AFL-CIO.

State COPE is comprised of 63 members that include the state labor federation's officers, Executive Board, and delegates from the 13 regional central labor councils (representing one vote for each county). COPE action requires a two-thirds majority vote.

Candidates underwent personal interviews and were asked to complete questionnaires. An incumbent's COPE voting record weighed heavily in the decisionmaking. If a candidate did not fill out a questionnaire a motion to endorse, in most cases, was voted on "contingent on receipt of an acceptable questionnaire."

Several union activists were endorsed in the Democratic primary, including incumbent State Representatives Dan Gardner of Electrical Workers Local 48, Diane Rosenbaum of Communications Workers Local 7901, Gary Hansen of Plumbers and Fitters Local 290, and Randy Leonard of Fire Fighters Local 43. Three new union-connected candidates for the House also received the AFL-CIO's backing. They are Sam Gillispie of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Irv Fletcher, retired president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, and Martin Taylor of the Oregon Education Association.

The state labor federation endorsed Democrats Terry Thompson, Ryan Deckert, Ginny Burdick, Kate Brown, Margaret Carter, Avel Gordley, Roger Pike and Vern Cook in their campaigns for State Senate.

In House races, the Oregon AFL-CIO endorsed Democrats Elizabeth Johnson, Elaine Hopson, Sharon Branstiter, Charlie Ringo, Mitch Greenlick, Mark Haas, Steve March, Jeff Merkley, Deborah Kafoury, Jo Ann Bowman, Laurie Monnes Anderson, Richard Devlin, Kathy Lowe, Jill Thorn, Mike Clarke, Frank Nelson, Lloyd Kumley, George Bell, Kelley Wirth, John Donovan, Robert Ackerman, Phil Barnhart, Vicki Walker, Bill Morrisett, Pete Kilger, Al King, Joanne Verger, Barbara Dodrill, Alan Bates, Wayne Snoozy and Paul Zasgrow.

Several candidates, many of whom had filed to run for office on the last day (March 7), were supported "contingent on receipt of an acceptable questionnaire" by the Oregon AFL-CIO and the central labor council with jurisdiction in the race. They included Democrat Chris Gorsek and Republican Pat Fahey on the Senate side and Democrats Cathy Lamb-Mullin, James Draznin, Raman Velji, Mike Smith, Chris Beck, Georgeen Penketh, Colby McCormick, Marilyn Slizeski, Lori Workman, Charles Lee, W. Earl Calhoun, Barbara Davidson, Lon Holston, Ken Cooper and Douglas Dunlap on the House side.

The Oregon AFL-CIO has already taken positions on several measures that will appear on the ballot in May.

It supports passage of Measure 78, which lengthens the period for verifying signatures on initiative petitions; Measure 79, which would increase the number of signatures required to place initiatives amending the constitution on the ballot; and Measure 82, affirming the Legislature's gas tax increase and restructuring.

The AFL-CIO opposes Measure 81, which would allow the Legislature to limit recovery of damages in civil actions.

March 17, 2000 issue

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