Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in October 2006

Under the rug

Google never forgets: Politicians should remember that and act accordingly.

Consider this page (link and pointer courtesy of Horse's Ass), whic contains pictures of Washington 8th District Representative Dave Reichert, plus a businessman, and - former Florida Representative Mark Foley, recently resigned after being outed as a pedophile. The picture was taken in 2005, and there's no reason to think Reichert had any idea what his colleague was up to.

You can understand why Reichert would doubtless, now, rather forget he ever met Foley. Better, though, to have posted an additional message on the existing page - something, maybe, about how you just never know about people - than to have erased it and hope no one would notice. These days, people notice.

THE FOLEYS: Curious that no one in Washington seems to have remarked yet about a curiosity of names. From 1965-95 Washington had a 5th district congressman named Foley - Tom Foley - who became speaker of the House. In 1989, a Republican National Committee staffer shopped around a memo that connected Foley's legislative record to openly gay Representative Barney Frank's, and suggested Foley "come out of the liberal closet." After uproar, the staffer was fired, and the Floey/gay linkage evaporated.

Now a congressman from Florida, the far side of the country, a Republican named Foley, and ... you can fill in the rest.

Evidence wanting

In the flurry of discussion about the new hot Oregon TV spot, one key point should be brought central: There seems to be no evidence that the problems it cites are in any way real.

This isn't true of most TV political ads, which generally cite evidence (maybe in the form of news stories) where specific allegations are made. Ron Saxton, the Republican challenger to Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski, has typically done this too, as on his ad about Kulongoski and taxes.

Not so on his new ad, now in heavy rotation, on illegal immigrants. There have at least been some past reports (one, as cited, in the Oregonian) suggesting - using statistical estimates, of course, not a census - that the number of illegals immigrants in Oregon is about 175,000. Of course, no one - no one - really knows if that's an accurate number. The Saxton ad cites it as established fact.

Then: "Under Governor Ted Kulongoski, Oregon gives drivers licenses to illegal aliens who use them to get state services and even vote. This costs Oregon taxpayers millions of dollars every year. Ron Saxton believes that illegal means illegal."

On the latter point, actually, so does Kulongoski, who has said his administration enforces the law against unauthorized immigration as best it can. Beyond that are some specific allegations: that illegals actually obtain drivers licenses; that they use them to obtain services; (implicitly at least) that they vote; and that this costs the taxpayers of the state millions of dollars annually.

These sound like documentable facts, if true. State officials, including Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, say they're not true. In the Oregonian today, "'I looked at the past 15 years of general elections,' Bradbury said. Of more than 10 million votes cast, only 10 prompted investigation into citizenship, he said, and of those 10, only two were prosecuted."

We've seen in recent reports no rebuttal about the facts of the matter from the saxton campaign. So this morning, we posed the question: "Concerning the current ad on immigration: What are the specifics on illegal immigrants voting or obtaining drivers licenses? The charges have been criticized as unfounded; what foundation do you have for them?"

The campaign responded promptly. In full: "Here is a quote from Sec. Bradbury. This seems to refute his statement to the paper. On Saturday, Secretary of State Bill Bradbury urged participants to take a stand against proof of citizenship and other identification requirements 'designed to reduce participation' in elections. - Salem Statesman Journal, 01/08/06 "

But that's a puzzle: Bradbury seems to be suggesting that the ID proposals have as their real purpose a suppression of voting, a suggestion he would make only if he thought their surface purpose - to keep non-citizens from voting - was not a real problem. It seems consistent with his statements to the Oregonian.

Not much of a response - no facts at all, not even any anecdotes, to demonstrate that illegal aliens have been obtaining drivers licenses, have been getting state services (as, probably, some have), have been voting, or have actually cost Oregon taxpayers a dime.

Maybe, in fact, they have - but so far that's guesswork. Until we see more, we're going to have to assume that on the subject of illegal immigrants, the Saxton campaign is simply making it up because the words "illegal alien" are a hot button in a tight race.

Buying TV

By all means run over - when you're done here - to the post at Loaded Orygun about how much candidates and committees have been spending in Portland's television media market.

There are some some limitations on this as an absolute overview of Oregon TV buys this campaign season. The big one is that there are other, albeit much smaller, TV markets in Oregon as well - Eugene, Medford/Klamath Falls, Bend (and the latter should no longer be an afterthought). But as an indicator of who's buying, this Portland survey will do well indeed.

The first stiking item is who's buying big. Three entities have bought over 1,000 spots on Portland TV so far - Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton, Oregonians Against Insurance Rate Increases/No on 42, and Mike Erickson. After those three, the number of spots by a specific buyer falls by mre than half.

One thing all three of those campaigns have in common is this: They are underdogs with deep pockets.

Deepest of all is the insurance industry, which has been spending millions to oppose Measure 42 - the one that would bar insurance companies from using credit ratings in setting coverage or premium levels - while its backer, Bill Sizemore, says he's literally spending nothing. What that tells us: This is an idea popular enough that budgets of millions, will be needed to keep it from passing, and that still may not be enough. It is the most remarkable such case on the ballot.

Not quite as deep are the pockets of Mike Erickson, whose hardcore air war against Democratic Representative Darlene Hooley - reciprocated fully - will be interesting to watch play out. We're skeptical about its efficacy.

Saxton, who has been a candidate for governor in the current cycle for a year or so, has been consistently behind Democratic incumbent Ted Kulongoski - although apparently, according to the latest polls, not by much. This effort is the leverage of raw money to win points, or at least lower the gap, and that he may have done to some extent. His 2,879 spots in the Portland market matches against Kulongoski's 387 - a gap of more than 7-1. That Kulongoski apparently remains ahead, and that the race has changed so little fundamentally, (and that the governor has spent so little of his own money so far, probably keeping him competitive in the next few weeks) may say something.

A recent lesson from across the Columbia may be pertinent. In the couple of months leading up to the mid-September Washington state primary, Chief Justice Gerry Alexander was the target of millions of dollars of broadcast attack ads, to which his side responded but with far fewer dollars - maybe about a third as many. Alexander won the election decisively.

There may be limits to how many votes these spots can buy. We'll know more about that, soon.

Helen Chenoweth-Hage

Quite a lot will doubtless be said soon about Helen Chenoweth-Hage, who died in a car crash this morning near Tonopah, Nevada. The former U.S. representative from Idaho's 1st district (1995-2001) was a distinctive and strong personality, and it seems peculiarly unfitting that her passing occur as a passenger in an auto accident; that's simply tragic.

Helen Chenoweth-HageWe recall her most specifically in connection with one arrival and two departures.

The arrival was political, in the year 1994, when she entered the race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House. At the time she did that, her prospects seemed dim. Though she was a veteran Republican worker and staffer, she was the least-known of the three Republicans seeking the nomination, the less funded, the one everyone figured would be in third place - the fight, said the cognoscenti, would be between the other two. And whichever won would be unlikely to unseat the incumbent, Democrat Larry La Rocco, who had won easy re-election in two years before.

So much for all that: Helen Chenoweth (as she was then) ran an energetic race and took the prize. It was a cationary note, in a sense, to be careful who you underestimate. Which sets up the two departures ...

In 2000, she was facing a situation many of her colleagues were: In 1994 a lot of Republicans elected to Congress pledged to serve three terms and no more. In 2000 a lot of Republicans broke that pledge. Helen Chenoweth-Hage (as she was by then) did not: She kept her word and stepped down. She's had no lack of critics over the years, but they've all had to moderate their criticism of her with that tough-minded show of integrity.

As a private citizen, she remained vocal and tough-minded, and not just on a public platform. One day, not so long ago, she was at the Boise airport preparing for a flight back to Nevada, where in recent years she has lived with husband Wayne Hage. Arriving at the search area, she was instructed to submit to a search she thought was unreasonable. She asked the officials there: What is your authority for asking for this? (That being a question any citizen should always be able to ask of a government official and expect a clear answer.) She was told: We won't tell you. She then did what a liberty-minded American citizen should always do in such a situation, and what all too few actually do: She picked up her bags, walked out and drove to Nevada.

There was a day, in the early and mid parts of her congressional tenure, when Helen Chenoweth's critics were unflagging in their blasts at her. We suspect that a lot of them, reflecting today, wish she were still around to take up the battle. She will be missed.

Cantwell up by 10

Or so reads the latest poll on the Washington Senate race, by McClatchy-MSNBC. It gives incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell 50% and Republican challenger Mike McGavick 40% - close to where they have been, on average, through most of the campaign season.

Barring some really unexpected last minute quirk, the race looks close to done. McGavick has campaigned intensively and advertised intensively, but all of his efforts have moved the needle hardly at all.

One part of the reason may appear in other results in the poll: "The poll showed sharp dissatisfaction with President Bush, his Iraq policies and Congress among Washington voters. It also showed deep concern about the future of the country, with nearly 60 percent of those surveyed believing it was headed in the wrong direction." Our observations and what we see of polling results suggest that this election is becoming quite nationalized.

A slight delay

We had been expecting to start parsing the Oregon campaign finance filings tomorrow. Well, we may start, but probably won't be finished.

A post on the secretary of state's site says why: "The Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has reported to the Secretary of State's Office that emails sent through the state system are being delayed in their delivery to various state agencies, including the Division of Elections. DAS is hoping to solve the problem as soon as possible. This technical problem may affect the Elections Division's receipt of electronic campaign finance reports that political committees are filing in advance of Monday's 5pm deadline for first pre-election reports for the General Election. Electronic filers are encouraged to file their electronic reports on a CD or diskette by Monday's 5pm deadline."

We'll be watching whenever. Some items of major itnerest should be turning up.