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Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

After getting beaten as many times and as soundly as Kevin Mannix, most politicians would hang it up.

Not Mannix. He dusted himself off, squared his shoulders and jumped foursquare into the most powerful avenue available to him.

At the rate he’s going, Mannix stands to become Oregon’s newest ballot measure mogul, with at least six initiatives that have a decent chance of making the November 2008 ballot.

His proposals include longer prison sentences for identity thieves and burglars, stronger regulation of strip clubs, diversion of state lottery profits for crime fighting and a $400 tax credit for families with children in school.

“I’m not filing stuff, for the hell of it, or just needing attention,” a visibly relaxed Mannix says over a cup of coffee at the Capitol’s basement cafe. He wears a sport coat with the plaid dress shirt open at the collar. As always, his smile suggests he knows more than he’s telling. “You want to do that, issue a press release. I’m interested in results.”

Results — at least lately — haven’t been Mannix’s strong suit. The last time he was elected to serve in one of the big chambers upstairs it was still the 20th century. Attempts to move up went badly. He ran for attorney general as a Democrat in 1996 and lost in the primary. He switched to the Republican Party and ran up a string of losses — attorney general in 2000, governor in 2002 and another try for governor in 2006.

Mannix shrugs those off as adventures that didn’t pan out. He says he’s now part of “the People’s Assembly.”

“Sure, I’m not a party leader, I’m not a legislator, I’m not a candidate. I’ve got some time to work on some issues I care about.”

Time and money. Loren Parks, the wealthy medical equipment entrepreneur who has paid millions for ballot measures, has pulled out his checkbook again to help Mannix with his anti-crime measures.

And Mannix is knocking on other doors as well. He says he’s talked to four national organizations in his search for money to pay for his initiatives and has flown east to make a personal pitch. He won’t name the groups. He says they want to see some progress on the measures before committing.

“He’s very tenacious,” says Patty Wentz, who works for Our Oregon, a labor-backed group that tracks and sometimes opposes initiatives and ballot measures. “No matter how many times voters reject him, he keeps coming back.”

Perhaps Mannix’s biggest victory was the 1994 passage of Measure 11, which he spearheaded. The measure dramatically changed Oregon’s criminal justice system by requiring longer mandatory prison terms for violent felons. Wentz sees an attempt by Mannix to regain some of that stature.




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