Do You Remember Kevin Mannix? We do.
Lawyer Kevin Mannix has filed to run for the House seat in the newly crafted 21st district.
If you’re relatively new to Oregon politics, the name might not be familiar. For others who have been around longer it may ring a bell.
While Mannix has run for numerous offices, and lost, he did serve in the Oregon House in 1999.
In fact, Mannix was the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
Believe it or not, both houses of the Oregon Legislature were controlled by Republicans back then.
Mannix, who had been a Democrat, was then a Republican.
1999 was the first year Oregon Firearms Federation was active in the legislature. Formed in 1998 after watching the institutional gun lobby bargain away our rights, OFF was created to stand up and stop the deal making and compromises. And what a year it would be.
While it is often assumed that the Democrats are anti-gun and the Republicans support gun rights, 1999 proved that a letter behind your name does not mean much.
That year the Democrats were pushing hard to ban the private sale of guns at gun shows. Although not in the majority, they were making headway.
During that session Senator Ginny Burdick introduced legislation (SB 700) to end the private sale of firearms at gun shows. Despite our best efforts, the bill passed through the Republican controlled Senate and was sent to the House.
There, Kevin Mannix, set out to “amend” it. And amend it he did. Working with a group called “Oregon Gun Owners” Republican Mannix, and then House Rep Democrat Floyd Prozanski, actually managed to make the bill worse.
(Under Mannix’s bill you would have been restricted from selling or trading guns from your home.)
That was the birth of HB 2535.
From that point on, OFF worked overtime to kill this awful legislation, while “Oregon Gun Owners” pulled out all the stops to promote the new gun control bill they had help craft. The National Rifle Association withdrew from the battle altogether and never said one word to their members about the bill as it progressed through the legislative process.
It was a hell of a fight. OFF was brand new, still small and underfunded, and taking on the entire anti-gun machine alone.
On June 22, 1999, HB 2535 passed the House 34-26. Mannix proudly carried this bill on the House floor.
Things looked grim for gun owners. With both Republican and Democrat legislators pushing new restrictions, the National Rifle Association refusing to acknowledge that the bill even existed, and a supposedly “pro-gun” organization promoting it, the chances of beating it in the Senate seemed remote at best.
The original gun show bill had already passed the Senate. Mannix and Prozanksi’s even worse version had passed the House and now was headed for the Senate.
(A deal had been made to drop SB 700 and replace it with Mannix’s worse bill.)
We were uniformly warned that we had no chance of killing it. But OFF never gave up. With a constant stream of mail and electronic communication, OFF reached out to gun owners across the state who in turn hammered legislators. The Senate vote was scheduled for July 6. It was postponed until July 7 and again till the 8th. OFF kept up the pressure. The bill was postponed again until the 9th and again until the 12th.
When the vote finally came, after a chaotic and confusing floor session, the bill failed by one vote. David had slain Goliath. Then-Senator Kate Brown attempted some last second procedural moves to keep the bill alive. They failed. The bill was dead. Mannix was furious. Ginny Burdick, who had made a floor speech when it looked like the passage was a sure thing and said “We rolled the gun lobby” was in tears.
After a long hiatus and several failed attempts at other offices, Kevin Mannix is back hoping to return to the legislature.
Oddly, in an opening email pitch for donations, Mannix said “In Oregon, we have a citizen legislature, which means I can continue running my law firm while representing Oregonians from House District 21.” Why a guy running for a horribly dysfunctional legislature would want to kick off a campaign by telling people he did not plan to devote full attention to the job is anyone’s guess. But Mannix has never been one to place the best interest of Oregonians above his own.
We know Kevin Mannix. Now you do too.