Kevin Mannix, who lost as a candidate for governor, state attorney general and congressman, has had a more successful career pushing get-tough-on-crime measures. But he’s finding it tough to get traction with this year’s entry – even among some of his fellow Republicans.
In a campaign speech in Hermiston yesterday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley said he wouldn’t support Mannix’s Measure 73, which would increase prison sentences for sex offenders and drunken drivers. That would mean an extra $18 million to $29 million a year in state prison costs, and Dudley said Oregon just can’t afford it.
“While the goals of these measures are laudable, their cost is simply too high,” Dudley was quoted by The Oregonian.
A week ago, Oregon’s newly created Citizens Review Panel also gave thumbs down to Measure 73 for the same reason. “Twenty-one of the 24 panelists opposed Measure 73, saying that mandating the longer prison terms would cost too much and limit judges’ power,” The Oregonian reported. “The three who supported the measure said the harsher penalties would deter crime and increase public safety.”
Mannix promptly attacked the citizen panel – established by the state legislature on a pilot basis in 2009 – as an unnecessary extra layer of bureaucracy.
“We keep adding more layers and bureaucracy to what's supposed to be an open and creative process,” he said. “This is a review process to get the opinion of the people. But that's what the election is for.”
The Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance, which supports M73, lost no time in whining that the citizen review process was “fatally flawed.”
It complained that members of the panel “had not been screened for fairness and impartiality regarding Measure 73,” and in particular that one “experienced attorney” in the group “was obviously strongly opposed to mandatory minimum sentences from the outset,” which “amounted to the equivalent of the opposition to Measure 73 having one of their own attorneys on the panel.”