The prolonged contest for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination has brought hundreds of thousands of new voters into the party's ranks. That could be bad news for Republicans seeking re-election in November - including, maybe, one Republican in Bend.
The Oregon campaign of Barack Obama takes credit for registering 30,000 new Oregon Democrats in the last 30 days. One place where the impact was felt was Oregon House District 54, which includes Bend and Deschutes River Woods. The district flipped over from majority Republican to majority Democratic voter registration this spring, becoming the first in Eastern Oregon to change parties since district boundaries were redrawn.
That has to give a boost to the chances of Democrat Judy Steigler, who's running against incumbent Republican Chuck Burley in a rematch of their cliffhanger 2004 race.
Burley, who could not be reached by The Eye for comment, has compiled a pretty moderate record during his two terms. His campaign website touts his support for creating a state "rainy day" fund, restructuring the state tax code and providing tax credits for affordable housing, among other things. Notably absent are the standard Republican blasts against abortion, gay marriage, immigrants and "socialism."
Still, The Eye has to wonder how much Burley will be hurt by all those new registered Democrats in his district, as well as by the general tarnishing of the Republican brand by the Bush presidency - factors that figured in last week's stunning upset Democratic victory in a Mississippi congressional district that had been considered one of the safest Republican strongholds in the nation.