Oregon Attorney General Candidates Ellen Rosenblum and Dwight Holton Debate
As I've said time after time, the most important candidate race in Oregon is the one for Attorney General. There is no Republican candidate, so whoever wins the May Democratic primary between Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum will be the next Oregon Attorney General. It might surprise some people to find out that Dwight Holton isn't running as a Republican, I know I was definitely surprised. But then again, it's kind of surprising that Dwight Holton is running in Oregon at all considering he is from Virginia (where his dad was Governor from 1970-1974).
The debate started with people piling into a classroom at Willamette School of Law. The candidates were making the rounds before the debate kicked off and I was able to shake the hands of both candidates. After a brief introduction and explanation of the rules of the debate, the event started. Each candidate was given a 2 minute introduction, with Dwight Holton going first via coin flip. Ellen Rosenblum was much more energetic and seem more comfortable than her opponent Dwight Holton.
The moderator, Brenda JP Rocklin, then asked questions that were answered by both candidates. Each candidate was allotted two minutes for their responses. Questions ranged from management experience to projected personal deficiencies that each candidate anticipates dealing with if elected. One of the most telling questions to me during this portion of the debate was when the moderator asked which former Oregon Attorney General each candidate felt they resembled most. Dwight Holton didn't have an answer. His exact quote was, 'I broke the mold while I was a prosecutor for Oregon.' That seemed a bit arrogant, and highlights the fact that Dwight Holton is not a true Oregonian. He didn't have any examples because he obviously doesn't know much about Oregon history.
Ellen Rosenblum on the other hand knocked this question out of the park. Ellen first pointed out that there is one big difference between her and previous Oregon Attorney Generals - she is a woman. After receiving a cheer from the crowd, she then provided no less than four examples of previous Oregon Attorney Generals and which qualities they possessed that she would also bring to the table if elected. I was watching Dwight Holton's face during her examples, and it looked like he could tell he botched that question.
After the set questions were over, it was time for Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum to answer questions from the audience. The moderator made a comment that there were 8 questions from the crowd in regards to marijuana policy, which received a cheer from the crowd. It was by far the most dominate topic of the audience question portion of the debate. Unfortunately, all of the questions were lumped into one 'meatloaf' question that allowed the candidates to pick and choose which ones they wanted to include in their answer. I would have liked to see Dwight Holton answer each one of them to get him on the record. The questions included everything from 'how does prohibition keep marijuana out of the hands of children?' to 'how will you protect the safe access to the over 50,000 Oregon medical marijuana patients?'
Dwight Holton gave a very long winded answer. He used about half the time to explain that marijuana is separate from the drug war. Marijuana supporters might find that interesting considering Dwight Holton tried to attack the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) every chance he had as a federal prosecutor in Oregon. After his flip-floppish answer, Holton very reluctantly stated that the OMMP was voted in by Oregonians, but was also quick to point out that he wouldn't tolerate it being a 'front for drug trafficking.'
Ellen Rosenblum was very straight to the point. She will not focus limited government resources towards marijuana enforcement against patients, and if voters approve an initiative at the ballot box that ends marijuana prohibition, she will respect that. I was delighted when Ellen Rosenblum pointed out that Dwight Holton once referred to the OMMP as a 'train wreck.' The crowd wasn't buying his BS, and I'm glad Ellen pointed out the obvious.
There were no less than five Oregon Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) chapters present at the debate. For any readers that question the dedication of SSDP chapters, here is another prime example of how awesome they are. Oregon SSDP Coordinator Sam Chapman tried to ask Dwight Holton a simple question about the Higher Education Act/Aid elimination penalty, but Dwight Holton was able to successfully dodge the question after his assistant stated that they didn't have time to answer it because they had to leave. Ellen Rosenblum was kind enough to pose for pictures, as seen to the right with Oregon activist Jim Greig.
This debate confirmed what I hope everyone should know by now; that Oregonians need to vote for the true Oregonian in this race - Ellen Rosenblum. During the debate, Ellen Rosenblum pointed out the need for prison reform in Oregon, which is a point that Dwight Holton agreed upon. Ellen told the story about how she was on one of the first prison reform committees in Oregon in 1988. Where was Dwight Holton in 1988? In between college degrees living on the East Coast...Do I really need to say more? VOTE ELLEN ROSENBLUM FOR OREGON ATTORNEY GENERAL!