The presidential campaigns are becoming more active in Oregon, with Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Ted Cruz appearing to be the most organized in their respective races for the state’s May 17 primary.
Sanders has opened four offices in the state – in Portland, Eugene, Bend and Medford – and his state director, Monte Jarvis, said hundreds of volunteers are gearing up for a major door-to-door canvassing effort in advance of the Democratic primary.
On the Republican side, Cruz is recruiting a network of statewide volunteers and has already made a big push to get as many supporters as possible elected as delegates – even if they wind up being pledged to rivals Donald Trump or John Kasich. The idea is that those delegates could shift to Cruz if the Republican convention goes to multiple ballots.
“We have teams set up in every state,” said Jeff Reynolds, a former Multnomah County Republican chairman who is the point person for Cruz’s campaign in Oregon. “It’s part of the strategy,” he said.
Trump, who charged Sunday that the delegate selection process is a “corrupt deal,” has accused Cruz of trying to steal the nomination from him at the convention. Republican precinct people from around the state will select Oregon’s delegates on June 4 in Salem. By state law and party rules, Oregon delegates are bound to the candidate they pledged to support for at least two rounds of balloting at the convention.
Trump now has a state director in Oregon, Creswell lawyer Jacob G. Daniels. He once ran for the state House and last year unsuccessfully sought to launch a recall campaign against then-Gov. John Kitzhaber.
Daniels is now treasurer for a political action committee launched by former U.S. Senate candidate Monica Wehby. Daniels said he is not authorized to speak for the Trump campaign.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the third remaining Republican candidate, does not appear to have a formal campaign team in Oregon.
Portland attorney Tim Bernasek, who has worked with a number of Republican candidates in the state, said he has been urging the Kasich campaign to get active in the state. But he said he so far has not had success with the under-funded campaign.
In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has hired Jillian Schoene, a veteran Oregon political operative who most recently has been running a group that trains Democratic women to run for office. There’s also a team of Clinton staffers from out of state who are helping organize the state.
In each party, the candidates have an incentive to campaign here even if they are not favored to win.
That’s because neither primary is winner-take-all.
The 28 delegates at stake in the Republican primary will be allocated proportionately. For each 3.57 percent of the vote that a candidate wins, he will get one delegate.
On the Democratic side, 61 delegates are at stake in the primary. Twenty delegates will be apportioned depending on the statewide results, 41 will be divided depending on the voting in each of the state’s five congressional districts.
In addition, there are also 13 Democratic super-delegates from Oregon. They are elected officials and party leaders who are automatic delegates at the convention and are free to vote however they want.
Nationally, Clinton has a large lead among the super-delegates – who make up about 15 percent of the 4,765 delegates – and Sanders has been trying to persuade them that he is the more electable nominee. In Oregon, most of the super-delegates are staying neutral until after the May 17 primary.
Four said they support Clinton – Gov. Kate Brown, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader. Rosenblum pointedly noted last week that she has said she supports Clinton, but hasn’t promised to vote for her at the convention.