THE BLOG
05/31/2016 09:49 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why Did Clinton Snub Oregon?

2016-05-26-1464223461-2699016-Ignoregoncartoon.jpg
(Cartoon courtesy of Jesse Springer)

EUGENE, Ore. - It might make sense for Hillary Clinton to play the long game and campaign in high-profile locales - but it's a drag the Democratic frontrunner couldn't at least hold a rally in beautiful Oregon before the recent primary here.

Granted, we're a bit out of the way. When I'm overseas and people ask where I'm from, it's hard not to explain with something like, "It's the state right above California."

But what are everyday voters supposed to think when a candidate doesn't even come say hi? (Sorry, that exclusive, big-city fundraiser with a per-ticket price of $2,700 last August doesn't count.) No wonder she lost out during the May 17 primary race, with 44 percent of the vote compared to Sen. Bernie Sanders's 56 percent.

Of course, former President Bill Clinton visited Oregon earlier this month. He also came through a few months back to campaign for his busy wife, making a stop in Portland with Gov. Kate Brown to smile, shake hands and sign books at the famous Powell's City of Books.

You can peruse a downtown bookshop in the dreamlike Pacific Northwest, or cruise along a riverside highway to see wispy clouds settle on brooding green forests. In the winter, feel free to ski down one of our powdered slopes, whether you're at Mount Bachelor to Mount Hood. It's all great Instagram fodder. Yet behind the photo-ready veneer, Oregon is a complex state with complex issues. Clinton should be speaking to regular people about them.

The University of Oregon, for example, was recently voted one of the best 50 schools in the United States for LGBTQ students. According to College Choice, it came in at a solid 42nd place - a win for progressives. But we can't forget the 2013 suicide of 15-year-old Jadin Bell, the young gay man from rural La Grande who hanged himself after telling others he was bullied, as The Oregonian reported.

Then there's the steep minimum wage hike, which has doubtless left local business owners worried about shuttering their front doors. I'll not go into the public records laws here, which I railed against in another column. Or the fact that we've had too many school shootings, from Roseburg to Thurston, that hang raw in the state memory.

It's a shame Clinton couldn't find time to check in on her Oregonian supporters. Sanders came over and over again, drawing massive crowds in the cities of Portland, Springfield and Salem. Donald Trump even showed up to raise some havoc.

Perhaps summing up Clinton's choice best was a scathing editorial cartoon that appeared in the daily newspaper not too long ago: local artist Jesse Springer lines the three presidential candidates up and has them state Oregon's (painfully) oft-mispronounced name.

Bernie Sanders: "Are-uh-gun"
Donald Trump: "Oh-ree-gone"
Hillary Clinton: "Ignoregon"

Oregonians tend to feel overlooked come primaries season, because this state's not one of the big players like, say, New Hampshire, Springer told me.

A friend of mine was not a big fan of Clinton's absence. "I'm upset that Hillary didn't come," said Negina Pirzad. The 22-year-old journalist said she "would have loved it" if Clinton dropped by - and would go to a rally if the presidential hopeful decided to later.

She said: "I would be there, supporting her as a fellow feminist." And sure, Pirzad would support Sanders if he won the Democratic nomination - but the former secretary of state is her first choice.

There's no denying that Sanders's and Trump's politics have been divisive this election cycle. But at least the two made the effort and travelled through this tucked away state. And as Springer pointed out in a note, when the general election rolls around, "Oregon and New Hampshire have about the same clout."

So come on, candidate Clinton. Remember that Eugene rally in 2008? Try to ignore the perpetual Oregon rain, but don't forget your people.

Note: Jonathan Bach attends the University of Oregon. The Clinton campaign was emailed twice for comment. As of press time, no response was received.