Oregon Rancher/Business Owner May Throw [Cowboy] Hat in Guv’s Race

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Jon Justesen  Photo by Oregonian
Jon Justesen
Photo by Oregonian

A businessman/rancher from Eastern Oregon has formed a committee to assess a possible run for governor according to the Zero’s Jeff Mapes today.

Jon Justesen runs his family’s cattle and wheat ranch in Sherman County and also owns a stake in Barrett Business Services, a Vancouver based company. He’s run for office only once and lost. But he thinks he can teach the Oregon Republican Party a thing or two.  

“We have to have a sales tax and we have to have a more progressive income tax,” said Justesen, explaining that the state needs more revenue to improve its schools.  At the same time, he said, the state also needs to cut property taxes because of their unfairness.

Justesen also said the Republicans have “made major mistakes” on social issues and immigration.  He said he supports a woman’s right to an abortion and doesn’t oppose gay marriage.  He also argued that the country should welcome as many immigrants as possible, believing it strengthens the economy.

  Mapes obliges the left by asking their favorite litmus test questions. Abortion? Really? “Welcome as many immigrants as possible”? Who disagrees with that? Did Mapes ask him about illegal aliens or legal immigrants? Perhaps it’s just too fine a detail for the left to discern. Eyeroll.

Justesen intrigues me, though.  Besides being at odds with many Republicans on social issues, I’d like to know how he would sell a sales tax. That seems like Oregon’s Third Rail. 

On the issue of the “more progressive” income tax, Mapes doesn’t explain if Justesen means a lower marginal rate. If he does then I agree with him. We need lower, flatter income tax rates. It’s an idea proffered by Republicans in the last legislative session. Republicans have in the past recommended a five percent marginal tax rate. Their thinking was the lowest current tax rate of 9% is too high and especially hits hard the poor.



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