Was Patrick Starnes a 'Trojan donkey?'
Patrick Starnes' former supporters say they feel a sense of betrayal since the Independent Party candidate dropped out of the governor's race and endorsed Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday — two weeks after voters had already started returning ballots.
But one former supporter took that idea a step further.
"I'm thinking this guy was what we would call a Trojan donkey in the race," said Alex DiBlasi.
Back in July, DiBlasi withdrew as the Pacific Green Party's nominee for governor and asked his supporters to get behind Starnes.
"I'm really upset," DiBlasi said. "I feel like the guy duped me in July. He is duping the public now…People have already voted for this guy."
Starnes denied that he was planted in the race by the Brown campaign.
"When I saw the writing on the wall of not winning this election, I realized I had a limited number of cards on an important topic to play them," Starnes said.
His priority issue during the campaign was a constitutional amendment to allow campaign contribution limits in Oregon.
In exchange for his endorsement, Brown agreed to support a legislative referral, or a ballot measure, to amend the Oregon Constitution to that end.
"This is the first time I have heard of the Trojan donkey," Starnes said with a chuckle. "But I think the idea is getting some traction. There are quite a few conspiracy theorists in the Green Party."
He said social media attacks from his former supporters have been "eating me alive" since he announced his decision.
Christian Gaston, spokesman for Brown's campaign, also denied that Starnes was a "Trojan donkey."
Starnes "reached out to me on Sunday," Gaston said. "We met on a Tuesday. Before that I had just talked to Patrick about the logistics of the debate."
In fact, Starnes can't drop out of the race. His name is already on the ballot, and nearly 600,000 voters had already turned in their ballots by the time Starnes withdrew. More voters still could vote for him before the 8 p.m. deadline Nov. 6.
About a month after endorsing Starnes, DiBlasi abandoned him for Progressive Party nominee Chris Henry.
"Starnes had assured me he would focus on education and the environment," but then described himself in an interview as "a one-issue candidate," DiBlasi said.
Being a single-issue candidate is "political suicide," he said. "Frankly, I felt stupid for dropping out and endorsing him.
"I would be so furious if I had turned my ballot in having voted for Patrick Starnes. The argument against third parties is you are wasting your vote. That is literally now the case."