My favorite Republican
Got a nice e-mail message the other day from my old friend, ex-state Labor Commissioner, and one-time gubernatorial candidate Jack Roberts. He wrote:
I just stumbled upon your riff on the 5th District congressional race (dated Oct. 7th). You're right, of course, that Jim Zupancic lost to Greg MacPherson last year, but it was one of the closest and most tightly contested races in the state with the result hugely affected by Bill Bradbury's shameless gerrymandering of the district lines to take in a chunk of Multnomah County voters. At the same time, Greg was an excellent candidate and has been a good legislator. In fact, when you think of two guys of the quality of Zupancic and MacPherson slugging it out in one district, and compare that to the choice voters faced in some other districts, it is just one more reminder of the vagaries of politics.I wrote back and asked Roberts, among other things, what he's doing these days. He responded:
Jim Zupancic and Jackie Winters are both friends of mine. I endorsed Jim before Jackie got into the race, at a time when it was my hope that we could avoid a destructive primary (I have a little experience with them). When Jackie got in, I continued to support Jim as the more electable candidate, as well as the one who could distinguish himself for many years to come in the United States Congress. He has received a broad base of support from Republican legislators across the political spectrum, which says something considering he was never a member of that body, where Jackie has served for the last eight years.
I'm currently heading up an economic development agency down in Eugene called the Lane Metro Partnership. It was formed back in 1985 by Lane County, the cities of Eugene and Springfield and the Eugene and Springfield Chambers of Commerce. We try to recruit and retain local manufacturing businesses (or, as we're supposed to say these days, "trade sector businesses") to help diversify and strengthen the local economy.Doesn't sound like Jack's out of politics for good. It was good to hear from him.
It's interesting and challenging work, particularly for someone who spent the last 13 years in elective office. In politics, you tend to concentrate on the things that are wrong with your state or community and how you'll promise to fix them. In economic development, you're trying to convince individuals and businesses that your state or community is a great place to live, work and run a business. By shifting your focus from what's wrong to what's right, it gives you a very different perspective on things.
As a Republican, particularly coming off a seemingly interminable Republican primary for governor, I was constantly hearing people complain about overregulation, particularly regarding land use and environmental protection. But when you ask these same business leaders what are our strengths in attracting new business here, invariably they come back to "quality of life." Sure, they'd like lower taxes, less bureaucracy and red tape, etc., but not one of them really believes we would have a better economy if we just lowered our environmental standards or increased traffic congestion.
I don't know if I'll be reentering the political arena myself in the future, but if I do, I think I'll have a keener sense of what's important to Oregonians and the Oregon economy because of what I'm doing now.