Mannix uses moderates' names to lure money to his right-wing GOPSome 30 years ago Oregon Secretary of State Clay Myers told young Democrats that if they wanted to make a difference, they should register as Republicans. Why? Because Oregon's great struggle was for the soul of the Republican Party.

Three decades later, the Oregon Republican Party would not nominate Myers nor the lions of that era: Tom McCall, Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood. Why? Because the party primaries are owned by the religious right. The people whom Myers warned against have hijacked the GOP. As a consequence, we have not had a Republican governor since Victor Atiyeh, who left office in 1987.

Myers and many other moderate Republicans are staying away from the big fund-raising party that state GOP Chairman Kevin Mannix is throwing Friday in Portland.

Mannix professes that he only wants to stage an inclusive event and make those moderates realize that they belong in the Republican Party. But moderates such as Max Williams, Bill Rutherford and Norma Paulus aren't deceived by Mannix' cheshire grin.

In the months ahead, Mannix will urge Republicans to join him in plunging Oregon once more into fiscal crisis. Mannix will urge the repeal of the income tax surcharge which the Oregon Legislature enacted. The madness of Mannix' action is that he actually urged legislative leaders to enact this income tax surcharge.

By trying to undo the tax surcharge, Mannix will attempt to quash the revolt of moderate Republicans who courageously brought the tax bill to the House floor while House Speaker Karen Minnis watched. In seeking a tax solution to the state's fiscal morass, those Republicans were emulating Gov. Atiyeh, who enacted a tax surcharge when deep recession mired the state.

Fifteen years should have told Oregon Republicans that the religious right is leading it nowhere. The revolt of the moderates in the last session was a healthy indicator of sanity.

The Oregon Democratic Party is not a panacea for our ills. The larger point is that our legislative process relies upon two parties that will differ, negotiate and compromise. The religious right and those who make a living off opposing all taxes at all times find compromise abhorrent. Reflecting that narcissistic posture, Speaker Minnis misunderstood her role. She was the speaker of the Republican caucus rather than speaker of the entire House. She served a slice of one party rather than all of Oregon.

Clay Myers recognized 30 years ago that the moderate, pragmatic path leads to progress. An ideologically-driven party becomes a dead weight on the entire state.

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