GOP needs Van Duyn

May 12, 2002 11:00 pm

This November, we want to see a campaign for Baker County Commission chair that talks about qualifications and focuses honestly on ideas.

Simply put, Baker County can't afford another divisive campaign that does a disservice to the truth and our community. We want a campaign that builds up Baker County instead of tearing it down.

That's why Jim Van Duyn deserves the support of Baker County Republicans as their nominee for commission chair.

A contest between Van Duyn and Democrat Fred Warner Jr. promises to be about restoring public trust in the electoral process.

We're not so certain a contest between incumbent Brian Cole and Warner wouldn't degrade into more of the same dirty politics we saw in the successful recall against Baker City Councilor Gary Dielman, and now see in the Cole-Van Duyn contest.

Certainly, Cole isn't responsible for the actions of the Citizens for Responsible Government, a group which has more than staked out its claim to a brand of distortion and character assassination that has no place in Baker County politics.

But the mailing demonstrates that Cole's own supporters aren't confident he can win by running on his record in office.

Rank-and-file Republicans should find that troubling, because Cole should be their best candidate: an incumbent, with a proven record of successful campaign fund-raising.

That he attracted a challenger within his own party — and one from the opposing party in the fall — suggests dissatisfaction with his administration.

That he attracted the kind of support the Citizens for Responsible Government offered suggests a certain desperation among his own supporters.

Warner is running unopposed for his party's nomination and will be on the November ballot.

He has name recognition and pioneer roots that will attract voters.

And by April 18, he had visited 600 Baker County households to shake hands with voters and tell them about his campaign — grassroots campaigning at its best.

In other words, it could be an uphill battle for the GOP nominee.

While his camp may be attracting Cole's detractors, Van Duyn's supporters seem intent on helping him promote his qualifications and rise to the occasion.

Cole's supporters, on the other hand, are now staging attacks in an attempt to make Van Duyn — and his family, including his 13-year-old son, who is autistic — an enemy.

Maybe it's because Van Duyn's record in the public and private sectors offers GOP voters an attractive alternative to Cole's government-only experience.

Maybe it's because Van Duyn has found spending patterns in county government that he sees as problems but that Cole regards as investments.

Or maybe it's because Van Duyn has been active at the community level since returning to his hometown and has built a network of supporters who prefer his approach to Cole's.

Regardless, Baker County loses when campaigning turns negative.

Let's demand a higher standard of our public officials and begin to heal our community's recent pain.

For the GOP's part, we think that healing best begins with a vote for Jim Van Duyn.