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Hey voters, pot plan will be back

Jim Moore has a pretty reliable crystal ball and on Monday he made a prediction. In 2016, Oregonians can expect gay marriage and marijuana to return to the ballot.

Moore, director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation at Pacific University, was handicapping the next election for the crowd at the Washington County Public Affairs forum.

Think it’s too early to start talking politics, with the bruisingly long presidential election just behind us? Think again.

Moore and Mike Riley, of the polling firm Riley Research, told the crowd gathered at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Tanasbourne that the big takeaway from the election was that efforts to establish the narrative early were successful. Efforts to change the direction of the election later in the game with big money weren’t.

While Oregon voters shut out Ballot Measure 80, which would have legalized marijuana, by a definitive margin of 54 percent to 46 percent, Moore said its fate was sealed when national pro-pot groups backed away from the measure. With victories for their cause in Colorado and Washington on election day, those same groups will be back. And Oregonians can expect to hear about marijuana and gay marriage sooner than later.

The loss of Republican Knute Buehler was another example of a race that was lost early. Buehler challenged Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat, but Moore said he didn’t kick his $1 million campaign into gear until ballots had already hit mailboxes.

“I don’t know what he was spending money on but it didn’t work,” Moore said.

Buehler lost, earning 43 percent of the vote to Brown’s 51 percent.

In local races, efforts to establish a narrative backfired for state Rep. Katie Eyre, a Hillsboro Republican. Independent expenditures funded mailers attacking her opponent, Democrat Ben Unger.

The House District 29 race was heated, with Unger and Eyre filling mailboxes with materials. But flyers attacking Unger hit too hard, Moore said.

“This became a problem for her,” Moore said. “It complicated her message.”

Meanwhile, Unger formed a competent ground game that reached out to Latino voters and knocked on doors repeatedly to push turnout.

Unger won the race, earning 53 percent of the vote. Eyre lost with 47 percent of the vote.

A similar get-out-the-vote effort helped Joe Gallegos, another Hillsboro Democrat, win in his race against state Rep. Shawn Lindsay, a Republican representing House District 30.

Gallegos won that race, earning 49 percent of the vote. Lindsay earned 45 percent and Libertarian Kyle Markley earned 5 percent. Moore said it was unclear if Markley’s presence on the ballot cost Lindsay the race. Instead, those voters could have skipped the race entirely if he wasn’t on the ballot.