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August 18, 2013
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Editorial: Oregon Republicans make puzzling choice for party chairman

Say this for Oregon Republicans. When they chose a state party chairman, they didn’t go bland.

They went eccentric.

The 55 Republicans who voted a week ago to make Art Robinson their leader dived into the rabbit hole.

It should be interesting.

Robinson made such a spectacle of himself in 2011 and 2012, it’s hard to think of him as a party leader in 2013.

Yet he is now the state chairman of a major political party. He’s probably the first party chairman who thought Oregon State University had a personal vendetta against him and his children.

He’s also probably the first who thought he couldn’t get a fair shake at a Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

If you can’t recall those episodes, well, maybe neither could the people who made him chairman.

You might have thought Robinson’s brand of politics was permanently disgraced when his son, Matthew, filed as a Democrat to run against U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio in 2012.

Politics are rough. Cheap shots are the norm. Still, there has to be some level of honesty. The Robinsons sank below that level when Matthew registered as a Democrat. Art Robinson disclaimed any involvement, but that was hard to believe. For the Robinsons, politics are a family affair. Another son, Noah, managed both Art and Matthew’s campaigns. Art Robinson nursed a grudge over reporting about Matthew Robinson’s candidacy all the way through November, when he was trounced by DeFazio.

The day after the election, Noah Robinson emailed supporters. After calling DeFazio an “immoral entrenched politician,” Noah encouraged everyone to keep the faith in the Robinsons.

“With your help our family will win Oregon District 4 for you, it is just taking longer than we all hoped. There is so much we can do as a congressman to help our country that we cannot give up,” he wrote.

Noah didn’t mention that Art did worse in 2012 than when he ran against DeFazio in 2010. Given one more election, Robinson may yet lose solidly Republican Douglas County.

Democrats must be chortling about the Republicans picking Robinson as chairman, but it’s a sad day for residents who want a stronger GOP — one that can win statewide elections.

Oregon needs a robust Republican Party to advocate for balanced environmental policies and stronger reforms to public employee pensions.

It’s also a sorry day for anyone who wants two healthy parties to prevent the excesses of one dominant party.

Robinson replaced Suzanne Gallagher, who was in the post for just six months until she resigned under pressure. Robinson’s tenure could be short or long. It’s unlikely to be boring.

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The News-Review Updated Aug 18, 2013 12:04AM Published Aug 18, 2013 12:04AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.