Friday, November 27, 2009

Oregon GOP's Prize Turkey Is Back

Posted By on Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 6:20 PM

Appropriately enough for the week of Turkey Day, political activist-cum-racketeer Bill Sizemore has announced he’s going to seek the Republican nomination for governor.

In a statement released to the far-right-wing NW Republican blog, Sizemore said he was running to “break the stranglehold the public employee unions have on the state of Oregon” because “he is the only one willing to challenge that behemoth head on.”

Sizemore, who now lives in Redmond, used to be a leading champion of anti-union and anti-tax ballot measures in Oregon until 2000, when a jury convicted two of his organizations on racketeering charges. In 2008 he ended up spending a day in jail on contempt of court charges stemming from his refusal to sign certain state and federal tax forms.

Sizemore admitted that his history, plus a court order barring him from engaging in any political fundraising, could prove a handicap. Also, on Dec. 21 the two state teachers’ unions are going to court to ask to have Sizemore jailed until he complies with a judge’s order to straighten out his finances.

But Sizemore vowed to push ahead anyway.

“I may have to run my campaign from inside a jail cell,” he said in his news release, “but either we break the stranglehold the public employee unions have on this state or the future of Oregon will be a grim one.”

Sizemore lost in a landslide to Gov. John Kitzhaber in 1998 and is likely to face the ex-governor again if he wins the GOP primary – an event that state GOP Chairman Bob Tiernan thinks is both unlikely and undesirable.

When The Oregonian’s Jeff Mapes called him for comment on Sizemore’s announcement, Tiernan said it surprised him and that he thought Sizemore “went off the deep end eight or nine years ago.”

That prompted Sizemore to fire back that Tiernan ought to resign if he wins the primary. “This is the first time I can remember a party head stating publicly that one of his party's candidates, a serious, well known candidate at that, went off the deep end years ago,” Sizemore said.

Well, we can buy the “well known” part.

Over on the liberal Blue Oregon blog, Carla Axtman sees Sizemore’s announcement as just another money-raising scam. She speculates that Sizemore is hoping he really will have to campaign from inside a jail cell so he can “lead his ardent supporters into the belief that he's Oregon's version of Nelson Mandela. He'll claim himself a political prisoner, locked away in an effort to keep him from thwarting the evil unions as they lay waste in their socialist takeover of our state.”

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