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Posts published in “Day: September 19, 2006”

Partisan balance

As this is written a couple of counties, Asotin and Skagit, are still out, as are some additional scattered precincts. But there's enough in to get a fair idea of the partisan balance in this primary election - the first time Washingtonians have had to choose between parties in the primary.

Neither party had compelling primary contests; there's no reason one ought to have outpolled the other based on immediate reasons. So how does the state break down?

Grand total (again, at this point, just before midnight election night): 304,208 Democratic ballots to 236,203 Republican - 49% to 38% (the remainder choosing neither party's primary).

Most of the counties - especially most of the rural counties - held a Republican edge. Those were counterbalanced by the larger counties including King (41,761 to 14,697), Pierce (41,455 to 27,914), Snohomish (36,569 to 21,748), Kitsap (21,048 to 11,150) and Clark (27,855 to 19,816). The biggest Republican county was Spokane (26,902 to 35,055).

A playground for political analysis. We'll be back to this.

No sale

This isn't a runaway; at this writing, the Alexander-Groen contest for Washington Supreme Court isn't yet settled. But while a broad swath of opinion suggested that the swampingly large pileof money supporting John Groen's effort to oust incumbent Chief Justice Gerry Alexander would be enough to prevail, indications now are that ... it was not.

Gerry Alexander Several possible conclusions can be drawn from this. We'll highlight two that could be significant for the election, and the election cycle, ahead.

One is that the message got through that a narrow band of interests was the basis of the Groen candidacy, and that was wrong. This may be somewhat unfair to Groen, who likely has interests and abilities well beyond those of concern to his supporters. But it isn't unfair to the movement that backed him, and to them this result - so far (with thousands of ballots yet to come), an Alexander win at about 53% - serves as a rebuke.

Separately, this race together with the other one hotly contested, involving Justice Susan Owens and her main chellenger, state Senator Stephen Johnson, should generate concern to Washington's Republicans. The judicial positions are of course nonpartisan, but to a considerable degree the lines behind the incumbents and the challengers seem to have matched with partisan lines - Democrats probably voted strongly for the incumbents and Republicans for the challengers.

Considering that neither party had within its own ranks any strong primary contests (the U.S. Senate primaries were non-events), the judicial battles served to a degree as useful surrogates. in that battle, the challengers (the Republican side) had significant advantages. In seat 8 (Alexander-Groen) the challenger had a huge money advantage, and in seat 2 (Owens-Johnson) the incumbent was considered the most liberal member of the court and his challenger won a raft of newspaper endorsements, along with other advantages. Neither were enough. To be sure: The Owens-Johnson battle isn't over, since she didn't reach 50% of the vote (other candidates were also running) and will face Johnson again in November. But the margin at present is 45.6% to 32.6% - a big lead, hardly a promising start for Johnson.

An early indicator for November 7 in Washington? Wouldn't be surprised.

Back channel?

So why, coincident with his refusal to join in a debate on Idaho Public Television (sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters), did Republican gubernatorial candidate C.L. "Butch" Otter agree to a debate with Democratic candidate Jerry Brady on KTVB-TV?

There's been a lot of discussion about that. There's the idea that Otter has effectively taken a shot at the Idaho Press Club, but that doesn't seem right; he's gotten some bad press this year all right, but the Press Club isn't responsible for that and he'd be facing journalists at the KTVB event too.

Then there's the idea, floating as well, that he's just more comfortable with Boise's Channel 7; a number of people who have been key long-time staff there have had substantial conservative and Republican associations. That's not an accusation of skewed journalism, but even if the product is solidly neutral, there may be on a personal level a feeling of greater comfort for Republican politicians.

We were inclined to dismiss that theory too, but the surfacing Wednesday of the Otter-KTVB emails, by rival KBCI-TV does give us pause. Someone apparently leaked a batch of communications (18 faxed pages) between Otter's campaign and people either at KTVB or associated with its planned debate, written and sent in August and early September. (more…)

Sprawling out

Agreat deal of the residential development growth in the Boise area has centered on projects to the east, north and west. But let us not forget the south.

Pleasant Valley South LLC is asking for zoning permission and annexation for about 800 acres south of Boise, along the southern reaches of Cole Road (due south by a miles or so of Governor Jim Risch's residence). Some business development and about 1,800 homes would be built there, presumably providing residence for about 5,500 people. The legal process involved is underway at Boise city hall.

Boise is already considering annexation of an area just north of that.