The mysterious case of the two Tracys
Shortly before Washington County Republicans voted in a straw poll to endorse a gubernatorial candidate for the GOP nomination, precinct committee members received an email urging them to support Bend businessman Sam Carpenter.
The email was signed with the name, "Tracy." The name of the Washington County Republicans' chairwoman is Tracy Honl.
Honl said several precinct committee members contacted her and reproached her for trying to influence their vote in the straw poll, but she said she didn't actually send the email.
"I don't want to influence how anyone votes," Honl said.
The title of the email was "Meet and Support Sam Carpenter" with a subhead titled, "Vote for Sam Carpenter at the special central committee meeting!!!"
Inside, the email stated: "As some of you know, the Washington County Republican Party is doing things a bit different this primary election season. For the first time, our PCPs (precinct committee persons) will be voting to endorse candidates in the primaries."
The sender went on to write that Carpenter's campaign has the greatest chance of defeating Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, in the November general election. The other two frontrunners include Rep. Knute Buehler, a Bend orthopedic surgeon, and retired Naval aviator Greg Wooldridge of Portland.
"This dispels the three-decades-old myth that Republicans 'have to' vote for a left-leaning Republican who doesn't share, and won't stand up for, good values and principles," the email stated.
Buehler, a moderate Republican, is often seen as the most credible challenger to a Democrat, because of Oregon's political demographics.
Washington County Republicans are the largest county party in the state. Hence, winning their support is a coveted prize for any Republican contender.
Contacted about the email, Carpenter said the email came from a Union County volunteer named Tracy Cheeseman.
"Tracy Cheeseman is a field sign volunteer who sent a small batch of emails out without our knowledge. And I don't have a problem with that. She's not a paid campaign staffer. That was her choice," Carpenter wrote to Oregon Capital Insider.
Cheeseman did not obtain the database of Washington County Republicans' email addresses from the Carpenter campaign, Carpenter said.
"Her main sin seems to be her first name," he wrote. "…This mailing was not meant to mislead simply because I knew nothing about it, and beyond that, (Tracy) Cheeseman had no idea that the people who read it would confuse her with Tracy Honl. Finally, Tracy Cheeseman didn't know of (Tracy) Honl or that she was chairperson of the Washington County Republican group."
Cheeseman, contacted by phone, said she didn't know that she shares a first name with the chairwoman of the Washington County Republicans and was just trying to garner support for the event.
The confusion stemmed from an unfortunate case of "mistaken identity," she said.
"It was not unfortunate, other than that people thought I was the chairperson for that county," she said.