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Posts published in November 2006

Tonight, tonight, tonight

In the three states of the Northwest, the magic - or witching - hour is 8 p.m. That's when the polls close and, soon after, numbers start to roll. (In Idaho, where most people are in Mountain Time, numbers usually do not much roll until
9 p.m. Mountain time, in consideration for the people up north whose voting deadline is an hour later.)

polling place image - Washington Secty State officeWe will, of course, be getting a sense of the national trends before that, since many eastern polls will be closing around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Northwest time.

Expect that Oregon numbers will be among the first out; its vote counting procedures allow the count to begin on Tuesday well before the polls close. (And remember, only ballot in the hands of county officials by 8 p.m. today will count - in contrast to Washington, where a Tuesday postmark traditionally has sufficed.) Of some interest: With its new heavy reliance on mail voting, how early will be the Washington votes?

Of course, be sure to check back here: As per usual, we will be tracking results mostly on line. In between a short TV appearance and a stop at a political event, our regular stops this evening will include:


  • The Secretary of State' s office did a fine job of updating on primary election night; it's our top stop in the Gem State.
  • KTVB-TV traditionally has some of the best and fastest election night results in the state.
  • The Idaho Statesman will have information posted on its front page.
  • In eastern Idaho, try KIFI-TV.



A VIEW FROM CONGRESS Also, this could be interesting: Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) says he plans to blog regularly during election night. Could be interesting to pull the take from his angle.

Oregon punditology predicts

We on this site usually don't get into flat predictions, preferring to deal in odds and probability for events which haven't yet occurred. But for those interested in predictions - something to tide you over till polls close, Punditology has just the thing.

Around Oregon 346 politically involved and interested people filled out a survey on Monday on how they think the election will go (not to be confused with what they'd prefer), in Oregon. It seems to be the largest and most detailed late-date prediction set in the region, and it probably does constitute a late-game conventional wisdom. Check it out, and then this evening watch it get variously upheld and overturned.

OTHERS David Postman's Seattle Times blog offers a prediction contest, and some commentary is attached in comments. A thread of Idaho predictions can be found at the Democratic Red State Rebels.

Wining & dining all over

Funny business becomes possible anywhere you have the point of decision on how to spend money. A fresh insight along these lines, from the office of Washington's insurance commissioner, Mike Kriedler.

title insurance reportLast month Kriedler released a report, "An Investigation into the Use of Incentives and Inducements by Title Insurance Companies." Title companies? You usually think of them - and most of us rarely do, other than when buying or selling real property - as stolid, staid, boring, nondescript. (Which is what they should be; and isn't in any event meant as a swipe: Your scribe's sister worked at title companies, in Washington and Idaho, for a number of years.)

But because of the way the marketplace in title insurance is structured - and like much else in the "free marketplace" the structure has evolved in coordination with governmental law and regulation - shady business actually is made much more likely.

Here's the background.


. . . this time, it’s personal

You hear the phrase on trailers for action movie sequels when it comes to battle scenes. Here's an instance where it applies to politics.

Comments from Idaho Senator Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, on lasy-gasp radio ad from Laird Maxwell's pro-Proposition 2 organization:

Once again, the promoters of Proposition Two have taken the low road in an effort to deceive voters. But this time it is personal.

I debated promoter Laird Maxwell on two different Idaho Falls radio stations for an hour each time regarding Proposition Two. Obviously, I was opposed to it and he was in favor. Now his group is taking quotes out of our debate and using them in their mail-outs and actually using my recorded voice on their radio ads to make it sound like I am in favor of Prop. 2. For instance, I said somethng to the effect that, “We are on the same page on this one. Proposition two should not affect existing planning and zoning ordinances.” I was referring to the fact that the proposition is not retroactive like the one in Oregon, but they are quoting it as if I were supporting the whole Proposition.

I have had a number of people call saying they heard the radio ads and were disappointed that I was supporting Prop. 2. You can imagine how angry this makes me. I trust people to be honest in presenting their positions and now I find that some cannot be trusted. It is disheartening to me.

I want to make it clear to my friends and constituents that I am against Proposition 2. I believe it would damage the vitality and economic health of Idaho. I have actively opposed Proposition 2 and urge you to do the same.

It should be personal, at well, to the people the ad was intended to deceive.

UPDATE A reply from Laird Maxwell:

For the record, Sen. Brent Hill was clearly identified as an OPPONENT of Prop. 2 in our radio ad.

Below is the script and attached is the radio ad.

Lastly, we sent out a bulk mail letter where we again quoted Sen. Hill and identified him as an opponent. Here is the excerpt of that letter:

Let's give credit to one politician who's opposed to Prop 2, but who admitted the truth on the air.

Last Tuesday on KZNR Radio in Blackfoot, state Sen. Brent Hill said: "I think that (Prop 2 supporters) and I are on the same page on this one. …This should not affect any planning, zoning, or other land use laws that are already in existence."

Senator Hill is right . By its own clear language, Prop 2 will not affect existing zoning laws. That includes, by the way, the current zoning laws that make it illegal to "turn any Idaho property, including farmlands, into junkyards, power plants, or high rises."

In other words, he confirms that that TV spot you've been seeing is a lie.

I know that Sen. Hill is a square shooter, unlike Nampa Mayor Tommy Dale. I have a deep respect for Sen. Hill and we were square with his quote by identifying him as an opponent. I also believe that by clearly identifying Sen. Hill as an opponent in made our point stronger, in contrast, that many of the other opponents, like Tommy Dale were lying.

What the vets say

Polling tells us that the conflict in Iraq is top of mind for Americans as they vote or prepare to. That suggests we might take a minute to peruse the congressional rankings of what may be its single most relevant private organization, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

They are self-described as "Founded in June 2004, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is the nation's first and largest group dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those Troops and Veterans." And it says that "The IAVA Rating is based on this legislator's voting history on issues that affect US troops, Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, and military families."

Like other interest groups, they track legislation and congressional action, and also like many, they rate the members of Congress, in this case by letter grade. Here is how they rate the members of Congress from the Northwest.

office Idaho rating Oregon rating Washington rating
Senate Craig (R)
Wyden (D)
Smith (R)
Murray (D)
Cantwell (D)
House Otter (R)
Simpson (R)
Wu (D)
Walden (R)
Blumenauer (D)
DeFazio (D)
Hooley (D)
Inslee (D)
Larsen (D)
Baird (D)
Hastings (R)
McMorris (R)
Dicks (D)
McDermott (D)
Reichert (R)
Smith (D)

“Condomnation” (per The Stranger, and stranger)

The odd ness just keeps on coming. In fairness, Washington state Senator Brad Benson, R-Spokane, spoke on this subject - Planned Parenthood condoms - last spring, not last week, so he apparently isn't trying to . . . (oh, hell, verb your own entendre) this into the campaign. But it's pretty reflective anyway.

Brad BensonSeattle's The Stranger weekly newspaper has posted on its web site a clip of Benson, a former state representative who was appointed to the state Senate last year to replace newly-elected Spokane Mayor Jim West, speaking to a group of backers. In his talk he said that condoms distributed by Planned Parenthood have an 80% failure rate. This is, apparently, deliberate: "They have an interest in the follow-on product. That's why they give out 80% failure rate condoms." The "follow-on product," presumably, would be abortions.

Wonder which brands those are? And whether Benson has filed a complaint about the manfacturers with the attorney general's consumer protection office? (And where, we wonder, is Idaho's Bill Sali on this? Sounds like his kind of turf.)

Planned Parenthood, naturally, has replied that "The condoms we use are as effective as any other condoms." Absent something resembling evidence, we'll assume that they are.

Political question: What's the impact now in Spokane? There, the Spokesman-Review's newspaper blog has noted the discussion and one poster inquires, "This seems worthy of a Spokesman-Review follow-up story for Monday, no?"

Flipping the House

Of the six legislative chambers* in the three Northwest states, just one appears to be seriously up for grabs - in partisan control - on Tuesday: The Oregon House. So what are the odds Democrats will wrest control of it, for the first time in 14 years, from the Republicans?

Oregon HouseWe think: Slightly better than even, with a distinct chance of split chamber control such as the Oregon Senate had the term before last.

[*The Oregon Senate might be next in rank order, but Republicans appear to have realistic shots at just two Democratic Senate seats, and their odds of picking up either are no better than even; while Democrats have at least an equal chance of unseating one Republican senator. The chance of a chamber flip in either Washington or Idaho, in this election, seems remote.]

In the 60-seat House, Republicans currently hold 33 and Democrats 27 seats. All are up for election. The math is simple: If Democrats manage a net gain of three seats, the House will be under split control; if Democrats gain net four or more, they take control.

The bulk of the 60 seats are opposed by a candidate of the major opposition party, but (as is usually the case) only a minority are so seriously contested as to merit close consideration: In the vast majority of cases, seats will be held by incumbents. Counting those seriously contested seats is the core of the question, and a difficult matter: Good analysts can come up with different numbers.


Catching on

The increasingly worn initiative come-on of something for nothing really does seem to be wearing thin this year. Several Washington initiatives which would seem to have generated plenty of support in years past are encountering static this year (foreshadowed, maybe, by the failure of the 2005 gas tax measure). In Oregon, the most recent poll projects failure for the TABOR and term limits measures.

Jim Risch
Jim Risch

And in Idaho, polls show the land-use initiative, Proposition 2 - the followup to Oregon's troubled Measure 37 - riding on the edge, where once it might have been a presumptive winner. Part of the reason may be the breadth of opposition to it.

Consider today's press conference (we followed on conference call) set up by Governor Jim Risch at his office. The point it sought to make was made, really, even before anyone spoke. The range of people there present to declare opposition was startling, from business groups to environmental groups to quite a few others. Reflecting on a history of publc gatherings on one side or another of major issues (and Risch has been doing this more than a third of a century), he remarked, "I've never seen one as diverse as this group is." (The next two speakers after him were Republican Senator Brad Little and Democratic Senator David Langhorst.

Risch's own stance as a backer of private property rights is too extensive to seriously question, so his stance on Prop 2 carries weight: "This proposition does not enhance that . . . I can say that with a considerable degree of confidence." His main point was that the initiative would destabilize established land and planning practices, deeply upsetting property rights - and that has been precisely the case where Measure 27 has impacted Oregon.

Another bit drew laughter. One question at the conference noted that Proposition 2's backers said that opponents to the initiative were "liberals."

Which drew a big laugh from Risch: "I've been accused of a lot," he said, "and now the list is complete." Which may be one of the more compelling arguments the Pro 2 critics can make: Any movement so detached from reality that it argues Jim Risch is a liberal . . . well, . . .

WASHINGTON ISSUES Idaho's Proposition 2 still looks like a fairly close call - though momentum seems to be running against it - but as noted above, polling has been showing several key Washington state issues failing. For a solid overview of this, check out the latest University of Washington polling, which projects losses for both Initiative 933 (property rights and land use, comparable to Oregon's Measure 37 of 2004 and Idaho's current Proposition 2) by 51%-39%, and Initiative 920 (to repeal the state estate tax) by 53%-32%.

Battle of the write-ins

Election afficianados may want to cast a glance toward a race little noted around the region but abuptly heated and highly unusual, in Oregon's Benton County, for the office of sheriff.

Diana Simpson
Diana Simpson
Randy Hiner
Randy Hiner

The office there is nonpartisan, and currently held by Jim Swinyard, who is retiring from it. His undersheriff, Diana Simpson, is running for the job. For a while after the filing deadline, she had an opponent, but he dropped out last summer. Since then, however, three more candidates have emerged - as write-ins.

The impetus seems to be in part issues of morale and keeping up to date on patrol and investigative operations, and the fact that Simpson rose to the number two spot through the probation office, not through patrol. For her part, Simpson acknowledges improvements are needed, and says she will work on them, and that the sheriff's office does, after all, cover a number of divisions (civil and jail too), as well as patrol.

All this might still be of limited interest outside the county but for the very high-profile campaign one of the challengers has raised. Randy Hiner, an animal control officer, has been running an unusual write-in campaign - high-profile, with loads of ads on Corvallis radio (we heard one as we wrote these words), loads of signs all over the county, and even billboards. Significant money has entered this race. That's a little unusual for a sheriff candidate at all (though Spokane and some other places have seen it this season); it's extremely rare for a write-in.

We'll check back on this unusual race.