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Puffs of smoke

No, there’s no actual fire yet, at least none visible. But those tracking Oregon legislative races may want to keep a watch on what happens over the next couple of months in the race in House District 39.

Wayne ScottThis is a mildly Republican leaning but almost competitive district on the ground, but not in the ranks of “races to watch” largely because of who holds the seat: House Majority Leader Wayne Scott, R-Canby, a formidable personality, a powerful lawmaker and highly popular at home. Simply, there’s been no good reason to think of him as in trouble. He has drawn a Democratic challenger, Mike Caudle, but he has been considered a relative longshot.

Two considerations are affecting that calculation. One is a new Libertarian candidate for the seat, Wes Wagner, who publishes the new occasional NW Meridian newspaper, which is distributed free in some areas around the Portland metro area. Scott has been effective enough in his role as majority leader, and co-leader of the legislature’s budget panel, as to be a serious negotiator and compromiser, and some in his base are less than thrilled. To quote one commenter from the right: “He’d probably be more fiscally conservative than Scott or any other Republican in the O legislature.” Wagner’s votes, however many there are, would come out of Scott’s base.

That still likely wouldn’t be enough to matter but for the ominous puffs of smoke. Those might be dismissable except for the source, the well-connected I Am Coyote at the NW Republican blog. He was all over the Kevin Mannix finances expose in the Oregonian weeks before it happened – nailed it cleanly. Now, here’s his note on Scott: “There are now a small handful of newspaper reporters snooping around Rep. Scott. Some of the stories coming out of the transom seem to indicate possible problems with the EPA and some folks inside the fireworks industry that are not too happy with him.”

What that all means, we’re not sure. But the blogger has a track record on this sort of thing, and its not to take lightly. If something related to Scott blows up, Oregon House Republicans could have a devil of a time – House Speaker Karen Minnis and Majority Leader Scott in a battle for survival simultaneously.

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