Writings and observations

No basic changes from the earlier post on the Boise races. The bottom line remains: incumbents Bisterfeldt crushes Seeley and Jordan crushes Swindell by landslide margins, and Tibbs ousts incumbent Mapp by a smaller but substantial margin.

This was not a pro- or anti-incumbent thing. People clearly drew a distinction between Tibbs and Swindell instead of – as pieces of their constituency sought to do – linking them together. Their candidacies were about very different things. The candidates could hardly have been more different:- Tibbs very well known in town for decades and deeply involved in the community on a range of subjects, Swindell a flash who showed up to protest on the Ten Commandments and has little other relevant background in civic affairs. The voters may have noticed.

This was not a particularly ideological thing, either, though the small size of the Swindell vote, following all the publicity she got and organization brought to bear, does suggest that Boise (the city, not the area beyond city limits) is backing off, gently, from the philosophical right, and toward the center. That may give some reassurance to Mayor David Bieter as he looks toward re-election in a couple of years. And that can be effectively counterpoised with the presence of Tibbs on the council, which certainly should keep the mayor on his toes.

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Idaho

The list of political axioms which includes the notion, “You can’t beat an anti-tax initiative in Washington state,” may have to be revised.

The night is still a little early for flat predictions, but based on which counties are reporting in – and how they are reporting – the anti-gas tax initiative, I-912, looks poised for a loss. It passed in many of the rural and conservative counties, of course, but not all of them (Walla Walla?). It has failed in Shohomish, Jefferson, Thurston and a few others, and among King County absentee voters, which are about 15% of the total. The balance right now is very close, but the key is this: The big chunk of remaining votes coming in will come from King County, that 85% of precinct voters. And if they vote anything like the absentees did – and the absentees went 62% against 912 – then you can stick a fork in this initiative.

If it materializes that way, it will be a remarkable outcome which – together with the possibly-underestimated Sims win – could reshape Washington politics for the next cycle or two.

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Washington

First, some kudos to the Northwest liberal site Pacific NW Portal, which has some of the best local web election results reporting anywhere. Those guys have done a heck of a job this evening in keeping up with prompt results, and their approach should be emulated.

Now:

The marguee race here among candidates is for King County executive, where Republicans have been looking forward for a long time for their shot at Democrat Ron Sims. They really thought they had him this time, with his loss a year ago in the gubernatorial primary, problems in the elections office and other things. Turns out they didn’t have him, though possibly the negative publicity about personal and ideological issues may have wound up hurting Republican challenger David Irons. But the Irons negatives shouldn’t be allowed to become the whole story: Sims, simply, is strong here, as long as he runs for local office. He was tougher to beat this time than many Republicans wanted to admit – King County is majority Democratic, after all – and he will be tougher next time (if there is a next time) too.

The non-personal marquee race, I-912 (roads funding), showed it passing (meaning a defeat for the funding passage) in early returns, but many of those were from rural counties already expected to vote against. The jury is still out on that one.

More soon.

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Washington

All right, the vote counters are being a little slow this evening, but the 10 precincts reported in the Boise council races – since we do know which they are and where they are – do turn out to be enough to let us draw some preliminary conclusions.

That’s because the districts are so widely scattered: three in the southeast, three in the west, one in the north end, the others around the bench and northwest. Politically, they’re a smattering, not unreasonably representative of Boise as a whole, probably de-emphasizing the North End vote if anything.

Those precincts give incumbent Vern Bisterfeldt 76% in his race: He’ll win going away. In the Maryanne Jordan (incumbent)/Brandi Swindell race, Jordan seems to be doing nearly as well, with 73% of the vote against a high-profile, energetic and organized opponent. Guess here is that the 73% will slip, but not nearly enough to cost Jordan re-election. More on this in a bit.

In Jim Tibbs’ effort to unseat long-time incumbent Jerome Mapp, things are a little less clear, though looking good for Tibbs – who has 53.7% – at the moment. I wouldn’t call it yet, but Tibbs seems to have an edge.

Elsewhere in Idaho, Pocatello Mayor Roger Chase looks (based on a third of the vote in) to be cruisng to a landslide re-election. Council member Richard Stallings (a former congressman) appeared to be doing likewise, though conservative Harry Neuhardt appeared to be in trouble.

A shocker in Idaho Falls may be in the making, however, if early numbers hold up. Former county commissioner and council member Roger Shurtleff, who was expected to cakewalk into the mayoralty, looks headed for defeat. We’ll update before long to check if that holds up.

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Idaho

Be sure to check back in after the polls close this evening. We’ll have review and analysis of the Northwest elections, starting as soon as the numbers arrive.

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This time last year Northwesterns were remarking on the dry autumn and the slow start to the snowpack. We lucked out then; the snowpack grew somewhat later in the season. But that was indeed getting lucky.

ODOT Siskiyou PassWe’re off to a better start this season, although drivers are having to struggle. Siskiyou pass on the Oregon-California line has turned snowy and is turning icy; it may be a difficult drive the next few days. And until earlier today, Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades east of Seattle was no pass at all – closed completely owing to a rockslide combined with heavy snowfall. Even now, only one lane each way is open, and it may stay that way for a while.

Still, as the saying goes, we need the water. Or certainly will next summer.

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Oregon Washington

As a matter of politics, you’d think that strip clubs fall onthe minority side of the equation – a form of business that, if voters had the option of simply voting away, would be voted out.

And maybe so. But now comes the Seattle Citizens for Free Speech, which seeks to overturn by initiative the Seattle City Council’s restrictive new strip club ordinances in favor of looser regulation, with what it says are 27,138 petition signatures and more to come – well over twice the number needed to force the election.

That they were able to do this, to generate such substantial numbers so fast, is impressive. In what is likely, then, to be a de facto referendum on strip clubs, should we automatically assume the clubs will lose? And what implications might we draw from that, even if the city in question is Seattle?

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer this morning started a sound-off comment page on the subject, which at the moment has drawn three comments – all on the side of the strip clubs. One referred to the “Taliban-like” council, and another noted, “I do not frequent strip clubs, but I have to object to the defacto closing of the business. I suppose they wanted to have the dancers in full head- to-toe garments that were made of metal or pvc, in order to quell the “immoral fires” being put off my both patron and employee. I think it is safe to say that every patron and employee is aware of the “sexiness” of a STRIP CLUB and what goes on there. This rule is ridiculous and they should be left alone.”

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Washington

Dark days for newspapers have been here so long it’s hard to remember when they were a growing, thriving medium. When was that? A century ago, when most mid-sized to large communities still had two or three? A half-century ago, when all but a few communities were monopoly markets but the papers still had strong penetration into their communities?

Circulation reports for daily newspapers, according to the new FAS-FAX reports, are down almost everywhere, large papers and small alike.

The Portland Oregonian, with the largest weekday circulation of any paper in the Northwest (it ranks 19th overall nationally), dropped to 333,515, about 4,200 less than a year ago – this following year after year of decline.

But that drop was at least only a little over a percentage point; they’d not want to trade places with their counterparts in Seattle. There, the dominant Seattle Times is down in a single year by by 6.7 %, to 215,502. The picture for the Post-Intelligencer is even worse, down 8.9 %, all the way to 119,823 – not much more than half the Times. Not so many years ago, the two papers were at least in the same size range.

The Tacoma News-Tribune (which also declined, but more gently), at 123,213 subsribers, is now larger than one of the Seattle dailies. The only Washington state paper gaining circulation in the last year is the little Longview Daily News.

This has some worrying implications for society’s ability to keep itself informed. Newspapers are the only large, local, comprehensive daily news gatherers we have; others play sometimes important but subsidiary roles. What happens if the day comes when they hit the irreducible minimum?

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