This is the second installment of my contribution to The Oregon Way – an online newsletter devoted to public policy issues and civic dialogue. As I explained in my first post – “Beer and Politics – Part 1” – regardless of where a candidate is running for office, a watering hole is the perfect venue for them to have a meaningful dialogue with voters.
Part 1 was a generic suggestion for Democrats – The Ship Tavern – and Republicans – Renners’ Bar and Grill. The narrative below is for two individual Oregon Gubernatorial candidates – Independent Betsy Johnson and Republican Bob Tiernan.
The Beerchaser’s Recommendations – Part 2 – The Oregon Way
In the first article, I described two bars that candidates for governor for each party should visit to have meaningful dialogue with Oregonians – not campaign rhetoric, but down-to-earth conversations with bar regulars over a pint of beer – whether it be PBR or a craft brew.
I will now suggest the best bars or breweries for each major candidate to visit and chat with regulars based on their backgrounds, their personalities, and political positions. Let’s start with Betsy Johnson – the independent. If elected, Betsy will have to walk the tightrope between both parties – to form coalitions.
So why not have a gathering at the Coalition Brewery in SE Portland. Coalition means a joining of forces or thought to form unit as a whole – a worthy goal for State Government. It was one of the first breweries I visited for my blog – Thebeerchaser.com – in 2011.
Its goal was to bring the community together through beer. In 2016, Coalition also became the first Oregon brewery to make a commercially produced CBD infused beer – Two Flowers IPA – so it would have also provided Betsy a chance to talk cannabis policy implications. Unfortunately, it’s too late as Coalition was purchased by Gorges Beer Company in 2019.
So, let’s go to Central Oregon. Betsy’s birthplace was Bend and her dad, Sam, represented the region by serving in the Oregon House for six terms and finished his public service as Mayor of Redmond.
The historic Horseshoe Tavern on Prineville’s Main Street is more than eighty-years-old and represents that region perfectly. One review stated, “Good food, huge portions, $1 beer, friendly staff. What more could you want?”
The bartender told me that the most challenging customers were off-duty state troopers, who made her trucker patrons look tame. In an era where law enforcement budgets are challenged, the troopers would want to chat with Betsy about the State Police budget. And she and her gritty personality would have no problem downing an Angry Balls Cocktail – Angry Orchard Hard Cider and a drop of Fireball.
Betsy has represented the Coast and needs to mingle with this group. Rather than a bar per se, I’d suggest that her campaign convene a picnic on the grounds of Beaver Firearms and Groceries on Highway 101 in Cloverdale, where the owner advises you to “Come in to Get a Snack and a Handgun.” Attendees will find the PBR and Budweiser right next to the ammunition for sale.
Let’s move onto one of the Republican candidates – Bob Tiernan – who had a reputation for being extremely contentious and conflict-oriented when serving in the Oregon House. (And not just because he’s a lawyer. I worked with lawyers for forty years and most are wonderful people).
He should mingle with the regulars at Gil’s Speakeasy in SE Portland – one of my favorite dive bars. And, as the name suggests, you won’t find any sign on the exterior indicating it is a bar. Gil’s motto is “We’re the nicest assholes in town.” The candidate might improve his communication style if he learned to how to interact with more amicable assholes.
And if he worried about downing one too many pints during his chats with the regulars, he could pony up four quarters, and use the coin-operated breathalyzer – one of only two that I’ve seen on my Beerchaser tour.
Then Mr. Tiernan should hit the Springwater Station – right on the Springwater Corridor where it intersects 82nd Avenue in SE Portland.
It is appropriate not because he would like the somewhat dingy interior (“green decor, dim chandeliers with leaf designs”) and the unremarkable Chinese food (it’s tried to transition from a dive bar to a lounge and is now transitioning to a sports bar), but because he could mingle with cyclists who stop in for a pint while riding the Springwater Trail like my friend, David Dickson and I did in 2015.
Since in 2019, he sued (and won) to keep cyclists out of his private California community, which, according to one local, limited access to the transit corridor by disproportionately impacting students in the area who use the route to get to school and for training on the high school mountain biking team.
If Tiernan talked to the cyclists stopping in, he might see that Oregon byways are not “clogged with ‘packs’ of cyclists….and bicyclists (don’t) run into small children, hit vehicles and destroy property.”
After this dialogue he could stroll a short way down the Trail and learn about homelessness, by talking to those “camping” along the Trail. That’s because on his campaign website, rather than offering any specifics he states:
“It needs to be determined if the cause of the homeless situation is a lifestyle choice, or if the person is really down on their luck….First there has got to be a short-term solution to get the homeless off the streets, then the long-term solution is to address the reasons why people are homeless.”
Now that’s a platitude!
With stops at Gil’s Speakeasy and the Springwater Station, in addition to talking to potential voters, he might also enhance his empathy quotient – something positive for any political candidate regardless of party.
External Photo Attribution
*1 Wikimedia Commons (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Betsy_Johnson_2009.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: Oregon Department of Transportation – 9 July 2009.
*2 Betsy Johnson for Governor Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=379252287343580&set=a.335226288412847).
*4 Beaver Firearms and Grocery Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.868932676609676&type=3).
*5 Bob Tiernan for Governor Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/
*6 Bob Tiernan for Governor Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=128872499724282&set=pb.100078045984917.-2207520000..&type=3).
*7 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:North_Portland_homeless_tent_camp.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author: Graywalls 3 June 2020.
I like this use of your writing and dive bar knowledge! Way better than the voter’s pamphlet. I had a double take and a smile when I heard Betsy Johnson speak of herself as an “equal opportunity pisser-offer.” She kind of embodies Oregon’s state motto, which I have long loved: “Alis volat propriis” (She flies with her own wings.)
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I think Betsy’s experience and grit have a lot to offer the voters…..
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Love the photos of the old dive bars and good commentary on the homeless “situation.”
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I love your website
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