The 2008 Senate race is becoming a crowded field. John Frohnmayer, brother of University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer announced his candidacy today. Frohnmayer brings a familiar Oregon name to the race. As Andrew Theen reports, Frohnmayer is part of the newly constituted Independent Party. He says he wants to spark a “voter's revolution.”
John Frohnmayer said it was time he stopped complaining and “do something.”
Frohnmayer is a professor of history at Oregon State University and a former trial lawyer. He said he and Leah his wife of 40 years talked a lot lately about a possible Senate run. He said they started a group with friends called “take a seat at the table,” where all policial issues were discussed. He said those group discussions led directly to his decision.
John Frohnmayer is perhaps most famously known for leading the National Endowment for the Arts under the first Bush Administration. He says the constant personal attacks on a national stage molded his beliefs.
John Frohnmayer: “I was fired for choosing the constitution over partisan politics. I learned how Washington works, and I say to you: we must do better, that's what the voter's revolution is all about.”
Frohnmayer said partisanship politics are “toxic” to America. John Frohnmayer has seen both sides of the aisle. A former registered Republican and Democrat, he says he registered as “un-affiliated” two years ago.
He joined the newly formed Independent Party this year.
Frohnmayer says he differs from the two Democratic candidates, Portland lawyer and activist Steve Novick and former Oregon Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley in that he calls for President Bush's impeachment. He claims his candidacy is a constitutional issue and that the Bush Administration has shredded the constitution and created lawlessness.
He also took aim at Senator Gordon Smith.
John Frohnmayer: “Four and a half years into the war Senator Smith has changed his position. But that does not to me suggest leadership, because with that first four and a half years he was compliant with the president and the war has been a disaster and it was ill-considered from day one.”
Smith declined to comment for this story, but the GOP's state chairman Vance Day says calling for impeachment is “reckless and wrong” and doesn't solve the partisanship issue.
John Frohnmayer's brother Dave is no stranger to politics either. He served as Oregon State Attorney General for a decade, and ran for governor in 1990. He is the second longest tenured president in the history of the University of Oregon.
Dave Frohnmayer said as a public employee he won't be campaigning or getting involved in the campaign. But he said his brother is “well-prepared.”
Democratic candidate Steve Novick described Frohmayer as “a good man, and a courageous man.” He says he believes he has more detailed plans for reforming the budget and trade policy. But Novick agrees with Frohnmayer about impeachment.
Steve Novick: “I certainly agree with him that people who are responsibly for misleading the American people on the war should be held personally responsible. And I certainly disagree with those who have said that impeachment is 'off the table.'”
Jon Isaacs is the Campaign Manager for Jeff Merkley the other Democratic candidate. Isaacs said the presence of Frohnmayer, a former Republican, reflects frustration with “Smith's record and lack of accomplishments.”
Frohnmayer plans to tour the rest of the state later this week, including a stop in his hometown of Medford.