Last week, it was reported that one Sonny Mehta of Eugene had been called upon to helm the “grassroots” organizing for Hillary Clinton’s local presidential aspirations. Mehta is a legislative aid and field director with the Democratic Party of Oregon whose previously worked for Measure 92, the failed state-wide campaign to require labeling of GMO food products.
Despite Oregon’s progressive reputation, GMO labeling lost – but by only 837 votes out of total of 1.5 million total votes cast. That’s a margin of just 0.056%.
Activists and volunteers on the Measure 92 ‘Oregon Right to Know‘ campaign were crushed, especially after winning the fight against fluoridation in Portland in a decisive landslide victory. These folks know how to run a real grassroots machine. They know how an army of volunteers armed with endless buttons, t-shirts, stickers, lawn signs, and well-attended community rallies are assured victory – regardless of how much the underdogs are outspent.
Curiously and frustratingly, Oregon Right to Know blanketed the state with more than enough volunteers to get the referendum in the first place, but then seemed to disappear in the months leading up to November 2014’s vote.
Many volunteers within the campaign grew disenchanted watching ‘Yes on 92‘ funds pay out-of-state consulting firms like GBA Strategies and SKD-Knickerbocker, who possessed little understanding of Oregon voters. The ‘NO on 92‘ campaign spent their cash smothering Oregon with doubt-inducing commercials, despite a super-majority of voters in farm-rich Jackson and Josephine counties already banning GMO crops earlier that year.
Several veteran water warriors said they were horrified to watch the official Yes on 92 campaign turn away volunteers, instead focusing on raising more money even after a mandatory recount went into effect.
— ORRightToKnow (@ORRightToKnow) November 25, 2014
One seasoned activist I spoke with was emphatic, “[Oregon Right to Know] did a most excellent job sabotaging the fuck out of it and running volunteers off and spending millions on consulting firms and political action committees. We were told “visibility is not a priority of the campaign” as they sipped their lattes and played chess across the room with each other on their laptops.”
Once it was clear they didn’t have the votes to win outright, Yes on 92 campaign manager Paige Richardson remained exceptionally upbeat, “I feel great right now to have come to this point, to be so close after a really long and hard-fought contest.” For Richardson, though, this was just another job. To be sure, she is a professional consultant herself with a firm of her own.
Yes on 92‘s other director was Andy Darkins, whose online resume consists almost exclusively of managing the finances of Democrats seeking office.
Together, Richardson, Darkins, and even young Sonny Mehta look like your typical career campaigners whose primary concern is chasing cash. While they temporarily adopt a ‘grassroots vs. corporate Monsanto money‘ branding, these are purebred Democrats for whom party loyalty trumps any real struggle of the people to assert their Rights.
It’s no secret Hillary Clinton is a great big fan of Monsanto; from her law practice decades ago where her firm retained Monsanto and Walmart as clients to her stint as Secretary of State actively promoting GMOs at home and abroad. It was hardly a shock when Clinton named Monsanto lobbyist Jerry Crawford as her chief advisor to Iowa, the most coveted caucus battleground state.
— beijing75 (@beijing75) June 3, 2014
You’d assume that Oregon would be a guarantee for Hillary. Team Hillary isn’t assuming that at all. After the Clinton dynasty got flattened by Team Obama in 2008, Clinton won’t be taking any chances, not even in Blue Oregon. Expect money to start flooding the Willamette Valley. Expect the consulting firms to put their “grassroots” hats back on, and expect them to feign collective amnesia of ever promoting GMO labeling once their Hillary 2016 swag arrives.
Did Democratic career campaigners take a dive on Measure 92 because Hillary Clinton said so? It’s likely, but difficult to prove.
They could have gotten a call from their own New York consultants on the payroll. There’s a good chance they were strongly advised by Clinton’s own strategists to cave in on GMOs to make Hillary appear as less of an adversary to Oregon voters.
What’s crystal clear is the degree that companies like Monsanto, DOW, and DuPont have infected the electoral process. Consultants and directors loyal to corporate candidates cannot be trusted to run another campaign for labeling or banning GMOs, or for protecting our water from Nestlé, or against fossil fuel intruders like Pembina. Oregon deserves far better than Hillary Clinton, Monsanto, and their bought-off accomplices in the Democratic party.