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Posts published in “Day: October 13, 2006”

Farm structure

Best be careful what you sow; the reaping can be unpleasant. Consider this picture from rural Oregon, which today went national and is likely to get a lot of circulation soon around the home state.

migrant housing

That's a picture from the web site of the Polk County assessor, which posts pictures as well as statistical information about places it appraises. It shows a farm building at Rickreall, a small town east of Salem, at a farm which has been owned by Oregon gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton (Republican). The building apparently has been used as housing for migrant farm workers.

This creates a couple of problems for Saxton. One is that a number of people might disapprove of the conditions workers lived in at Rickreall. But that could be the lesser issue.

Saxton has been making a big issue of illegal immigration, flooding the state with TV spots proclaiming that the number of illegal immigrants - 175,000 of them, he said, no more and no less - would constitute the second-largest city in Oregon. They are, he suggested, an imminent crisis, costing Oregon taxpayers millions of dollars. (None of this is well substantiated, despite requests for same from this site and others; the 175,000 number, which did appear in the Oregonian, is only an estimate, a raw estimate.)

So comes now the picture of the farm where Saxton employed migrant workers - many of whom presumably were there illegally - which is sure to get wide circulation.

The Daily Kos liberal site gave that a big boost today, front-paging the story and posting the picture. It also included this couplet of quotes, the first from a Portland Lars Larson radio show:

In January of this year, Saxton told radio show host Lars Larson, "I owned a farm for years, and we used farm labor, we had migrant camp and everything involved. I've got a lot of personal experience involved with that."

When asked on a radio interview on KLCC on Oct. 3 if he had ever hired an illegal immigrant, Saxton said, "Not to my knowledge."

Up to now, Saxton has been beating Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski over the head on immigration. He may want to put on some protective headgear to deal with what could be coming next.

If the tide rises

We're still 25 days from election, but talk nationally continues along the line that a Democratic wave is coming. If so, what effect might that tide of blue have in kiln-dried red Idaho?

We're inclined to think Idaho generally is one of the places where the impact will be relatively slight. But that doesn't mean nonexistent. If the 1st district congressional race continues to close, for example, it might be enough to switch that seat Democratic. (It would take a high tide.)

In August, we listed 10 state legislative seats where the contests appeared competitive; those too could be affected. And among others, a correspondent suggests, let's add a couple of state House seats in an unlikely place: Idaho Falls.

We're talking about the House seats in District 33, which is central Idaho Falls - the most urban area in Idaho (along with central Nampa) that hasn't demonstrated a substantial Democratic base. But even in central Nampa, you can find a significant number of Democratic voters, if not quite enough to elect someone to a legislative district. In District 33, the number has seemed to be just below that threshold. This year, there's the possibility it may poke above.

The Republican House members here are Jack Barraclough, who's been there for 14 years, and Russ Matthews, elected two years ago as a from-the-right challenger to Representative Lee Gagner. This part of Idaho Falls looks and feels not so different from parts of Boise's North End or the upper Lewiston bench, and you have to wonder if the right kind of Democratic campaign might appeal there.

We may find out, as an article in the Idaho Falls Post Register (no link available) suggests. It notes that John McGimpsey, running against Matthews, has substantially out-raised Matthews, and (independently) we have heard he is substantially outworking him as well. Jerry Shiveley's advantages against Barraclough in those categories are lesser, but he is a well-known figure in the area, a retired teacher whose students are voting. The Post Register: "Barraclough’s a successful campaigner, but Shively was an unusually popular music teacher at Skyline High School — and a proven vote-getter on the Idaho Falls School Board. Can a Democrat’s personal popularity trump Republican Party loyalty?"

Both have several issues at hand, notably the recent legislative special session on property taxes which, polls suggest, has not gone over well.

In an ordinary year, these races might be a footnote. This year, they are no slam dunks. But if you see the tide lifting them up on November 7, you'll know it's high indeed; it could get there.

Canary on the campaign trail

The initiation of negative campaigning is a sort of canary on the campaign trail: When it sings, the campaign has some problems.

Most candidates, most of the time, prefer to campaign positively, to talk about their wonderful selves and their wonderful plans. They tend to turn negative, most of the time, when they find that going positive isn't enough to clinch the deal. Going negative can (does not always) work; they wouldn't do it if iit didn't. From this you can draw some conclusions. When you see a campaign heading down the slash and burn highway early on, it's probably one that needs to close a big gap. A late start on going negative can mean the campaign is close but not quite making the sale, or a little ahead but watching the other guy catch up. It's a sign of a campaign scrambling. And add a layer of concern to that if someone other than the candidate is doing the deed - that suggests concerned parties are worried the candidate can't afford to be associated with it.

In Oregon, voters watched as the trailing Ron Saxton (Republican) campaign for governor unleashed a mass of negative ads aimed at Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski, who was running warm-n-fuzzies on his own behalf. Then, as polls showed the race closing, Kulongoski started firing back at Saxton.

In Idaho, the 1st district congressional race (in the general election, not the primary) has been mostly positive, surprisingly so. But it made some sense. The Bill Sali Republican campaign seemed, a while back, to conclude that voters would simply come home to the Republican candidates by election day; and the Larry Grant Democratic campaign seemed to sense gradual building which might take them over the top.

That's gradually changing. From highly cordial initial debates and campaign materials, the heat is starting to pour on, and coming more from Sali than from Grant. There's a distinct change in tone since the last Majority Watch poll showing Sali ahead, but only by 49-43, hardly confidence-inspiring.

Thursday's Nampa candidate forum saw Grant take after Sali for misstating his position on immigration, and ask him to correct it. Sali declined, with this quote: “politics is a contact sport.” (Even real contact sports do have rules.) At almost the same time came reports of massive robocalls, not from Sali's campaign but from the Republican National Campaign Committee. The Grant campaign said there are two message, one starting, “When you go to the polls on Nov. 7 you’ll see the name ‘Larry Grant’ on the ballot. Let me tell you a little about Larry Grant…”; and the other, “Larry Grant needs a lesson in Economics 101…”

The tone is changing. That suggests a level of concern absent earlier.