Foreword
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x Foreword This is a book about a fascinating man that a few Oregonians really knew and so many of us thought we knew. It is a long overdue biography of Governor Bob Straub. Bob was a doer, not a talker. He had a vision for Oregon. He knew what needed to be done and he just went about doing it—with no fanfare, no study groups, and no blue ribbon committees. I guess that was one of the reasons I grew to like him so much. He was, in his style anyway, a conservative. My first awareness of Robert W. Straub was when I became a freshman Republican member in the Oregon House of Representatives in 1959. Bob was already established over in the State Senate. He was a Democrat but not part of the power structure over there; however, this did not mean he was a shadow in that body. He made his presence known! His star, however, really came into full light in 1964 when he upset incumbent State Treasurer Howard Belton, who was a highly respected figure in Oregon politics. Bob ran a very aggressive campaign promising to invest the state’s money better and Oregonians came to his side. Bob Straub was an exceptional state treasurer. He set the bar very high for those who came after him. He came up with the concept of investing state money in the stock market, which was considered risky in those days. In the 1960s, that was a bold step but it has paid off handsomely for our state funds. It made it possible for state employees to have secure pensions during times when the state budget was very restricted and, in turn, saved money to the benefit of all Oregonians. That took political courage and rare foresight. Bob was a sincere and passionate advocate for the environment and led Governor Tom McCall on those issues in the early years. He was more in touch with the environmental concerns of Oregonians, such as protecting the beaches and cleaning up the Willamette River. He had so many innovative ideas including, for example, the Willamette Greenway plan. Tom McCall skillfully grabbed these concepts and made them his own, but it must be known from whence came the seed. Bob and I ran against each other twice for governor. While we always remained personally cordial and respectful during those races, there was no mistaking his desire to win. He believed in himself and in his vision of Oregon, and he knew the frustration of watching government from the sidelines. A fearless competitor, he also understood and respected the difference between hard campaigning and destructive politics. I appreciate the deep civility with which he conducted himself in his campaigns and as a man. There are so Foreword xi many memories. Among them: during debates Bob would say that he “chose to come” to Oregon and I would reply that I “chose to stay” in Oregon. Bob handed me my first, and only, political defeat, in the race for governor in 1974. As I said at the time, the people gave me a mandate to go back into the family rug business. He was just too well known and popular and his style of government activism was in favor with the voters. I would not have run again in 1978 if I had not felt Bob was vulnerable. From the first, he didn’t seem to be getting very good press as governor, maybe in reaction to the very different style he had from Governor McCall, and the public, the press, and even his supporters were having trouble getting access to him. Bob also had a full plate of difficult and controversial issues during his tenure, including a major drought and the continuing energy crisis, along with a lot of fighting over land-use planning and timber harvesting. Plus, years of government activism had left people feeling overtaxed. My campaign positions on the issues matched the public mood better in 1978 than they had four years earlier. People were ready to slow down and put Oregon’s house in order. I defeated former Governor McCall in the primary and Governor Straub in the general election. It was the end of an era. A marvelous thing about Bob Straub was that he was who he was—he could never be someone else. At times, he might have wanted to have Tom McCall’s way with words. Nevertheless, his warmth, great sense of humor, and...


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