Politician in Eugene Oregon
Having done some political campaign work for McGovern and Carter, I decided after 400 soul searching hours in LifeSpring trainings in 1978 to be a politician and pursue the presidency. I started by getting myself appointed to the Citizen Involvement Committee of Springfield Oregon in December 1978. Then I left my accounting controller factory job in a failing company in March 1979. I began with a year of 400 political and community meetings in the Eugene Springfield area. I was educating myself for a run at the elected post of Lane County Commissioner. I moved to the newly redistricted North Eugene district of the five member board. May 20, 1980 was the election date. Conservative Democrat Archie Weinstein was redistricted into this district that he could not win in. At one point two of the county commissioners offered to help me, but I did not follow up on that offer, and a City Councilman ended up winning the office. So I ran for treasurer of the Lane County Democrats in June and lost 37-38 to a married woman who had one more vote in her family than I had in mine. I was appointed Budget Chair and elected alternate to the State Central Committee. I attended 13 years of the State Central Committee as either Lane County delegate or alternate serving as delegate, for the Democrat Party of Oregon. In 1981 I became involved in the first of three Oregon Legislative Sessions as an intern in the Senate Environment and Energy Chair’s office. Late in the session I got a small change in the redistricting plan through and got 44 of 90 legislators to cosponsor a venture capital “invest in Oregon” bill as an economic development option. The bill went nowhere, but the Public Employees Retirement System board adopted a policy of investing 5% of their fund in small business venture capital in 1983. Oregon had the highest unemployment rate in the nation in the 1982 recession at 14%.
In 1982 I was elected Chair of the Fourth Congressional District Democrats which put me on the State Executive Committee. There I pushed through a controversial budget reducing staff winning the majority vote over the objection of the State Chair who had appointed me Budget Chair. I also was assigned the task of updating our Delegate Selection Plan for National Convention Delegates for the upcoming 1984 election. I had a presidential election debate by proxy in the fall of 1983 for the Congressional District Democrats. I won reelection in 1984 with 73% of the vote and was put on the Oregon Democratic Party slate for the 1984 Electoral College after serving as a National Delegate at the 1984 Convention. I cast my vote at that convention for the first woman on a major party presidential ticket, Geraldine Ferraro.
One state legislator gave me the nickname “Fighting Bob Reuschlein” because he knew I was from Wisconsin and he knew of the LaFollette tradition. At his wedding in 1981, I heard a story from a party elder about a man whose dancing stole the show at a Corvallis Bar called the Tower Dungeon. On Thanksgiving weekend in 1975 with a Seattle band playing, a man started dancing and spinning with such amazing vigor and force that the crowd parted off the dance floor and started hooting and hollering in support as the whirling dervish danced the song away. As I compared notes with the person telling the story five years later, I confirmed that that was me. Later when I told this story in 1989 when we were dancing after a Radio For Peace International meeting in Costa Rica, the person I talked to said “Now you’re a legend on two continents”.
I developed a 1984 strategy for Jesse Jackson precinct persons to win election to the state convention and thereby share one of two national delegates elected at the state convention with the Hart caucus. Because Jesse didn’t get over the 15% threshold, he did not win any delegates with his 10% of the vote. But his precinct persons each had a slate of 21 other Jesse Jackson precinct persons to secretly vote for each other, and that was enough to elect about 17 of them as state delegates in the Hart caucus at the congressional district level. This strategy worked in all the Congressional Districts except the 2nd where they foolishly joined the Mondale caucus of establishment Democrats where everyone knew each other and weren’t fooled into voting for the Jackson upstarts. The Hart caucus of moderate Democrats was all political newcomers and didn’t know who to vote for, so the Jackson block vote was enough to capture most of the state delegate seats. As a result, Jesse Jackson’s spokesperson from Oregon, a black man from Portland, was elected a national convention delegate.
I left the State Executive Committee in 1987, after five years, when my term as Congressional District Chair expired. I had helped elect the new congressperson Peter DeFazio who is still there, and he gave me a gold plated coffee cup with his name on it when I moved back to Madison Wisconsin in 1993. I was one of the dignitaries behind Jesse Jackson when he spoke to a then campaign record crowd of 20,000 people in Eugene in 1988 and later was extended the same honor in 1992, when I shook hands with Bill Clinton. I was invited to the Clinton Inauguration on January 20, 1993 and attended one of the Inaugural Balls. Afterwards, my dad offered me a job in Madison, which I thought about and then accepted.
My farewell party Roast in Eugene was attended by 60 people. Included were the first woman to win an Electoral College vote, Tony Nathan of the Libertarian Party, and the Provost of the University of Oregon, a Rubicon Forum Republican friend. Chairs of the local Libertarian (Bob Fauvre, a friend and public access TV host) and Communist (unknown admirer) Parties were there, but the overwhelming majority of the crowd was Democratic friends. Including: the moderator of the local Demo Forum (Larry Craig who wrote a newspaper farewell about me) that I attended religiously and spoke at occasionally; and the staff (Doug Card, Martin Lewis, and my treasurer) of my unsuccessful legislative campaign in 1992; and the press agent (Frank Arundel) of my run for the US Senate in 1990. Then I became an unknown again moving to Madison Wisconsin in 1993. My Eugene farewell party was April 26th and my Madison arrival was May 3. I have never been accepted by the Madison community like the celebrity I was in Eugene. Even the editor of the award winning Eugene Register Guard regretted the loss of my monthly letters to the editor. I was invited to an encore appearance at an Oregon State Senate Committee Hearing on my Peace Economics ideas, which I had to turn down because I had already moved. Only now, 2014, after a year of weekly radio commentaries in Madison, am I beginning to reach some of the celebrity I had in Eugene twenty years ago when every statewide elected person knew me on a first name basis. The Democratic congresspersons all read my monthly column in the Oregon Peaceworker.
Here is what took me off the political path and put me on the scientific research path:
Dr. Peace, Dr. Bob Reuschlein,
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