Former Judge Vance Day is running for a nonpartisan position on the Oregon Court of Appeals, the second-highest court in the state. He is running against a long-time incumbent who, like most judges in Oregon, has never faced an opponent in an election. This race, though non-partisan, demonstrates the extent to which the I-5 corridor and its woke mob control the state, and what it will take for the rest of Oregon to fight back.
Day’s previous service, along with the judge he is currently challenging, make for a referendum on wokeism in Oregon’s judiciary. The incumbent, Judge Darlene Ortega, was first appointed to the vacant seat on the court of appeals in 2003, by the Democrat governor at the time, Ted Kulongoski.
This is how judicial races always go in Oregon: a sitting judge will retire in the middle of their term so the presiding democratic governor can appoint a replacement, who then runs as an incumbent in the next election. That position rarely sees a challenger, because any lawyer who might run is discouraged by the prospect that, if they lose, they may have a case in that judge’s court, and the campaign could negatively affect their prospects. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Day hopes to upset this system by offering a real choice to voters across the state of Oregon.
Ortega, from all appearances, is not simply a liberal judge like most of Oregon’s judiciary. She holds extreme woke views on critical race theory (CRT) and LGBTQ+ representation in the courts. In fact, she teaches CRT for the University of Oregon Law School at its Portland campus, advocating for special legal circumstances for “people at the margins,” according to her U of O Law bio:
Judge Ortega teaches Access to Justice at the University of Oregon School of Law’s Portland campus. She is also a frequent speaker on topics related to equity, privilege, combatting structural and internalized racism and oppression, and learning to recognize and value the perspectives of people at the margins. She spends hours each with law students and new lawyers, especially those from marginalized communities, helping them to navigate the legal world. Among her many outside activities, she is a co-founder of OneGeorgeFox, an alumni organization of George Fox University supporting LGBTQ+ students. She also is an avid movie and theater critic; her reviews appear regularly in the Portland Observer. Judge Ortega teaches Access to Justice at all three Oregon law schools.
An odd aside about Judge Ortega: her movie and theater reviews focus almost exclusively on feminist, lesbian, and transgender victimology productions. For instance, her 2014 review of Dear White People focused on white identity politics long before it became all the rage:
As a person of mixed (European and Mexican) heritage, I related to these struggles, both from my own experience and from that of my friends from outside the dominant legal culture trying to make it in the world of law. But I also related to the anxiety evident in the white characters. Even denial (also much in evidence) appears at times to spring from a place of anxiety. I’m one of the good people, right? I get it, right?
“Dear White People” doesn’t presume to answer these questions. It is wisely content to pose and play with them. In doing so, it has offered up a collection of characters who, with the exception of Kurt (undeniably a jerk) and Lionel (the most guileless), are by turns unlikable and worthy of compassion. And it has aspired to more than any film I can think of: a conversation about privilege and identity and race that sits with the questions instead of pretending that they have been or can be easily put to rest, by anyone.
Other reviews include The Visionary Courage of a Transgender Pioneer (“The Danish Girl”), Tried and Convicted By Mistake, and a play commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival dealing with Roe v Wade.
Other than her longevity and her movie reviews, Ortega’s service on the appellate court has been marked by, well, an unremarkable record. She has been passed over several times for open positions on the Oregon Supreme Court, while appellate court judges with far less experience have been appointed in front of her.
Day, by contrast, has been the target of the woke mob in Oregon. Back in the days prior to the Supreme Court decision effectively legalizing gay marriage across the nation, Oregon had a ban on same sex marriage. That ban was overturned by a judicial decision. In his capacity as judge, Day decided that as an evangelical Christian, he could not participate, so he exercised his judicial right to decline to perform marriage ceremonies. In response, he was brought up on felony charges, the state attorney general engaged in a witch hunt investigation, and he was forced to spend close to $1 million to defend against the full legal resources of the state that decided to manufacture criminal charges against him. PJ Media extensively covered his legal battle in 2017 and 2018, here, here, and here.
The State of Oregon conjured up baseless ethics violations, turned some of them into criminal charges, and told him it would all go away if only he would resign. He refused, saying he’d done nothing wrong. When the criminal case evidence and witnesses fell apart, so did the case against him.
Understandably, Day stepped away from politics for a few years. After witnessing the explosion of cancel culture, he decided that it was time to jump back in.
His candidacy poses such a threat to the status quo in Oregon and the orthodoxy of wokeism, his opponent has begun to get desperate. Remember, Ortega has never run for reelection against an opposition candidate before. Day represents the failure of cancel culture. Ortega has gone negative, launching attacks on Day’s record of standing up for his conservative principles. In response, Day’s campaign website notes:
As Vance Day’s campaign gathers momentum, campaign donation records provide a revealing insight into the forces propping up his opponent:
- 59% of funds raised are from Attorneys or Judges
- 62% of funds raised are from the Portland Metro Area
- 34% of donations list no occupation, for some reason…
According to Team Vance Day Communication Director Kevin Hoar:
“Nearly 60% of Vance Day’s opponent’s campaign dollars are coming from attorneys or judges, and even more than that is coming just from the Portland Metro area only. By contrast, our donors are from all over the state. They consist primarily of average citizens and small-business owners who have taken the brunt of the erosion of our system of justice in the last several years. Clearly, the powerful Portland elites are concerned and have started circling to the wagons to salvage the 19-year incumbent candidacy of Vance’s opponent.”
So in this race for the Court of Appeals, Oregon voters have a unique opportunity. Statewide judicial races rarely offer a choice, never mind a choice this stark. The I-5 population centers, where antifa and BLM rioters were allowed to destroy cities with impunity, represent one Oregon. The other Oregon, where folks just want to be left alone to live their lives without violence and radical extremism in their schools and politics, rarely has the opportunity to strike a blow for normalcy.
As extreme dissatisfaction with leftist policy sweeps the nation, Day represents a real threat to blue Oregon.