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451 Chapter 21 Into the Future, 2000-11 “What is real is the future. And it is a future in which we—as individuals and as Americans—can achieve great things . . . Nothing like us ever was.” —The Oregonian, January 1, 2000 January 1, 2000: The Dawn of a New Millennium People around the globe had been preparing for months for the new millennium . The 20th century was ending and, with it, the second millennium. A new century and a new thousand-year age was upon us. More than a million New Yorkers crammed into Times Square to welcome the new millennium. In Portland, 25,000 Oregonians squeezed into Pioneer Courthouse Square to celebrate the New Year.1 For one day, at least, people everywhere were focused on the future and the promise of a better world. Oregonwasleavingoneof themostdynamicdecadesinitshistory.Oregon’s population was 3.28 million on January 1.* The state economy had undergone fundamental change. Oregon’s high-tech industries had boomed, adding tens of thousands of new jobs and fostering dozens of tiny spin-off companies. Intel Corporation employed 14,750 Oregonians, while Nike provided 5,000 Oregon jobs out of a work force of 18,500. Thousands of more acres of farmland were covered by housing and industrial subdivisions, as suburbs crept 20 miles out in all directions from downtown Portland. * Thirteen percent (439,000) of the population was sixty-five or older, while 823,000 (25%) were seventeen and under. A baby was born in Oregon every twelve minutes and someone died every eighteen minutes. Over 9,200 adults were incarcerated in Oregon’s prisons. One in four Oregon adults was functionally illiterate. One in eight lived in poverty. 6,400 Oregon children were in foster care. And, nationally Oregon was forty-ninth in church attendance. 452 chapter 21 Exhausted Voters One of the last things Oregonians had on their minds in January 2000 was that another political season was underway. In February, New Hampshire and Iowa would hold their presidential preference primaries. Oregon’s primary was May 16, five months away. There was more controversy ahead: 32 measures were on the May and November ballots. Voter fatigue had set in. Heading the May ballot were the presidential primaries, but both the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees were known weeks before the Oregon primary. Texas Gov. George W. Bush had locked up the GOP nomination and Vice Pres. Albert (Al) Gore, Jr. was the Democrats’ choice. Consequently, Oregon’s primary was humdrum. Focus on Legislative Elections Who would control the 2001 Legislature? Would Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber face another GOP Legislature? Democrats knew their best chance was to gain control of the Senate, where they currently held 13 of the 30 seats. Fifteen Senate seats were up for election in 2000, only four of which were held by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Gene Derfler, a Salem Republican, was in charge of the GOP Senate campaign. Derfler had only one session left before he would be forced out of office by Oregon’s term limit law. And he wanted to be the next president of the Oregon Senate. The Kitzhabers and Sen. Ron Wyden raised money to help Democrats running for the legislature. Republican Sen. Gordon Smith had funneled tens of thousands of dollars into Republican coffers since 1998. Political consultants predicted that the legislative races of 2000 would be the most expensive ever. Candidates for the legislature spent over $4 million in May. Thirty wouldbe senators spent $1.4 million, while 153 House candidates shelled out $2.63 million. But this was a pittance compared to what candidates would spend in November. Oregon’s May 16 primary was the first of its kind in American history. Never before had a state conducted an all-mail-voting primary. Elections officials were delighted with the 51% turnout, the highest since 1988. Oregonians looked forward to America’s first all-mail general election in November. Poverty in Oregon TheOregonCenterforPublicPolicyissuedatroublingreportinearlySeptember 2000. The center’s report noted that “the typical Oregon worker is no better off than ten or twenty years ago.” Regardless of economic growth and government Into the Future, 2000-11 453 assistance (including welfare reform), over the last 20 years “Oregon’s poverty rate has fluctuated between 10-14%.” More than one in seven working families with children was poor. More than one in nine of all working households in Oregon sometimes ran short of food. The richest fifth of Oregon families held 38% of all income in the...


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