Washington presidential contributions

Washington presidential contributions

We’re not many days away from the next round of releases of campaign contributions numbers for the presidential candidates. Before wading into and being swamped by that, we decided to take advantage of a new tool by the Federal Elections Commission and take a look at the contributions reported by the candidates from around the Northwest.

We weren’t surprised to find the three states have highly distinctive patterns, but maybe a little to find that the state most different from the other two was Washington.

It was the one state of the three in which Democratic presidential candidates out-raised Republicans ($655,370 to $401,715). (A note: The Fred Thompson activity is too recent to show up in these numbers.)

Like the other two, the biggest single recipient here is Republican Mitt Romney, who who raised 68% of all Republican presidential money. (That percentage is bigger in the other two states.) Strikingly, his treasure chest wasn’t King County or even the Puget Sound area overall (where most people in the state live) – or even east of the Cascades. His big source was Clark County, Vancouver and Battle Ground, which accounted for $139,525, about half of his total.

By contrast, all of King County (with about five times Clark’s population) accounted for just about $100,000. Overall, King County yielded about $178,000 for Republicans, while Clark donated $142,715; practically all of Clark’s Republican money went to Romney. In contrast, second-place Republican raiser John McCain pulled about two-thirds of his money from King.

(Small but interesting: Republican Tim Tancredo, whose big issue is immigration, drew only small contributions statewide, but while he pulled almost nothing from Seattle, he drew much more from the Eastside and from Leavenworth.)

Among the Democrats, King County was central, accounting for 79.3% of the total for Democratic presidential candidates. The rest of the state broke out much like the area’s population.

Democrat John Edwards ran hard behind Romney in Washington on fundraising. The bulk of his money, more than three-fourths, comes from King. That was also true for Barack Obama and even more for third-place (amond Democrats) Hillary Clinton (81.5% from King, almost nothing from east of the Cascades.)

Oregon presidential contributions

Oregon presidential contributions

Oregon’s pattern was a little different. There, Republicans overall outraised Democrats (nearly 2-1, by $292,300 to $154,701).

But here too Romney was the big frundraiser ($212,920) – outraising his nearest competitor (Democrat John Edwards) by more than 3-1. He raised 72.8% of all the money raised by Republicans for president in Oregon.

Maybe in some reflection of Romeny’s strong support across the Columbia in Vancouver, he pulled about three-fourths of this money from Portland and nearby areas in Clackamas County. (Not so much from Washington County.) After that, it thins out.

Second-place fundraiser McCain has a big base in Lake Oswego – of his money raised in Oregon, about $16,800 – a third of his total – came from there.

As in Washington state, Edwards led in fundraising among Democrats here. Close to two-thirds of his money came from the Portland area. Relatively little came from Eugene, more from Medford, and almost nothing east of the Cascades. Similar patterns apply among his competitors – Obama took about half of his funds from Portland (and more than Edwards from Eugene), while Clinton took almost two-thirds of hers from Portland.

Idaho presidential contributions

Idaho presidential contributions

In Idaho some of the Oregon patterns reappeared, but more strongly. There, the Democratic presidential candidates raised only 11.8% of the Republican total. And among Republicans, Romney’s dominance was overwhelming. Of the total $268,166 raised by Republicans, $236,158 – 88.1% – went to Romney.

Something more remarkable than that: Of Romney’s $236,158, some $118,050 comes from the Idaho Falls-Rexburg area. Less than $24,000 came from all the rest of eastern Idaho including the Magic Valley.
It is also more than all of SW Idaho – Ada/Canyon and the surrounding area. (What does this suggest about Romney’s base?)

Second-place McCain drew more than half his $17,685 from Blaine County; third-place Rudy Giuliani did likewise.

On the Democratic side, half of all the contributions statewide came from the Ketchum-Hailey area. Obama came in highest at about $14.800, then Clinton at about $11,700, Bill Richardson at $1,500, and Edwards trailing – fourth – at $775.

Raw material for thought.

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Kate Brown

Kate Brown

Here’s a guessing game: What’s the reason Oregon Senator Kate Brown said, as she did this evening, that she will step down as Senate majority leader (and apprently from the Senate)? She said today that she’s doing it, but not why.

Let’s see. Such moves sometimes happen on occasion of scandal, except that there’s been none (that we know of) in this case. Or on occasion of some awful political reversal (as last session’s House Speaker Karen Minnis left leadership when her party lost the chamber), but that’s not the case here either. Or there could be personal reasons, though nothing there has yet come to light. Another prospect is an impending run for higher office, an idea which is bound to raise some interest. Does she have interest in the U.S. Senate next year, or something else?

Not many answers yet.

UPDATE The first reports on this suggested a resignation from the leadership but not necessarily from the Senate. The Oregonian reports today that later Sunday she confirmed she’s planning to leave the Senate as well; this post has been updated to reflect that.

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Increasingly looks as if Idahoans are going to have to choose their parties if they’re going to vote in primaries – the closed primary system.

We don’t think a majority of Idahoans would like the concept – to the contrary. But we take this quote, from the Coeur d’Alene Press by former state Senator Rod Beck, very seriously: “We now have a party rule that is in conflict with state statute. The only way to resolve that conflict is to have a court declare that statute unconstitutional.”

We noted in a past post that the Idaho Legislature is unlikely to do that, but Beck’s implication here is on target: A court probably would. Courts in a string of other states, including Washington, already have. Confirmation comes from Secretary of State Ben Ysursa – Idaho’s long-time elections guru – who said that a lawsuit was “inevitable” and that the current relatively open primary voting system will be hard to defend in court.

We half suspect the papers are being drawn as you read this . . .

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Dennis Hession

Dennis Hession

Al French

Al French

Mary Verner

Mary Verner

The last time Spokane voters re-elected a mayor was 34 years ago – 1973. (Compare that to the re-election-as-norm in Seattle, Portland, Eugene, Vancouver or Boise.) The incumbent mayor who is running this year, Dennis Hession, was appointed to the job in the middle of the current term, not elected, meaning both that he wouldn’t necessarily have to beat history to win, and also that he’s untested in a run for the top job.

Which may sound like an either-or, but we have some ease in suggesting the odds favor him.

One reason is the math of conventional political calculation. When an incumbent is on the ballot, the race almost always centers first around that incumbent – whether that person should stay or go. Hession, who is a former city council member (its president at the time he was chosen mayor, by a vote of the council), is opposed by two current council members, Al French and Mary Verner. Incumbents are ordinarily best-served by a divided opposition, and there’s a good chance that will play out in this case.

There are other considerations, a few of them countervailing.

bullet An era of good feelings. Hession’s predecessor was Jim West, who was for the most part a highly capable mayor but whose final months were swamped by scandal, and who was recalled by the voters. City politics was poisonous. Hession had the disagreeable task but political advantage of draining the swamp, and he benefits by comparison with what came before. Hession has had some missteps, but nothing that looks especially horrible in context.

bullet Similar backgrounds. Three years ago, all three of these candidates were on the Spokane city council, and they were not at war with each other. All had plenty of civic pushups under their belts, all were reasonably well known in the city, and all were operating on the inside of city hall; none is so easily definable as a “change” candidate. All are prominent professionals: Hession an attorney with a downtown law firm, French an architect fairly prominent in the business community, and Verner is an attorney and executive director of the Upper Columbia United Tribes.

bullet Hession and French seem more “alike” than either is with Verner. And it’s not just the gender thing (not to entirely discount that). Hession and French seem to have more a downtown business perspective, while Verner’s seems more shaped by policy activism, such as the environmental and resource staff work she did earlier in her career. (Echoes of it continue to show up – consider the long list of policy interests on her web site.)

bullet Verner has also had more negative headlines. The key here is a complaint filed with the new Spokane Ethics Commission (which is still in formative stages) saying Verner should have recused from voting on a city contract on archeological services, which went to a company endorsed by the Spokane Tribe, which is a member of the Upper Columbia United Tribes. Verner has called the complaint a smear, and the Spokane Spokesman-Review pointed out that the Spokane Tribe isn’t the same thing as the regional tribe organization Verner works for. Politically, in a scandal-sensitized Spokane, any bad headlines can hurt, however valid the charges. And that said, we may not have seen the end of filed complaints.

bullet The firefighters like French. The city’s firefighters Local 29 has donated big to French, $5,000, and – though interviewing both him and Verner – didn’t even invite Hession to a sit-down. (They’ve amassed a list of complaints against him.) French is undoubtedly glad to have the money, but to what extent could Hession counter by saying he’s a tough manager and negotiator?

So, in all, there’s some interest here, plenty of time for more twists and turns, and indications that the race isn’t a runaway.

For the moment, we’ll stick with the presumption of incumbency. Even if it Spokane.

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We should not leave unnoted – how could we? – the reports this week of the Virgin Mary siting at Twin Falls.

From the Times-News: “Late Monday night, a man left a message at the Times-News saying he’d seen an image of the Virgin Mary on a rock at Shoshone Falls. He did not return calls made on Tuesday to the number he’d left. However, along the winding road leading to the falls, a handmade cross rests against the base of a massive basalt slab – on which appears a human-like figure. It’s under the only tree along the road.”

The paper posted a picture of the rock in question (it appears at the link above); to our eyes, it simply looks like a colorful stain.

But perhaps it depends (as the Roman Catholic clergyman at Immaculate Conception Church at Buhl suggested) at least in part on what you’re looking for.

On the front page of the Times News site is a list of the most recent reader comments, which suggests area topics of concern: “On this parade controversy [concerning a gay orgainzation’s float]: Can we stop the hatred?; Accepting discrimination like this is outrageous; Religious miracle or natural phenomenon?; Push for homosexuality support worth fighting; Becoming ‘pobody’; Being homosexual is not a choice; DOE’s rich tapestry of broken promises; People at heart of parade angst are your neighbors . . .”

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Friday may have been a landmark day in Oregon public policy, not to mention the health of Oregonians, with passage of Senate Bill 329 – the comprehensive health bill. When Governor Ted Kulongoski signs it, as he has said he will, prospects for a whole different health system in the state will start to take form.

Only by steps, and not immediately. First will come appointment of an executive director to oversee the effort, and then a board. In 2009 will come the toughest step – money, to be raised by the Oregon Legislature. All of these steps have the potential to become more contentious than SB 329 was this – and that was, in truth, not nearly as contentious as it might have been.

Still, partly because the first step is so often the most difficult of all, it’s entirely possible that Oregonians will look back on June 22, 2007, as an important day.

ADDITIONAL NOTE All that said, by all means check out these comments at Blue Oregon on the evidently impending loss of Senate Bill 27, which apparently will be left hanging at session’s end. Just how key is it to the success of 329? Our sense is, considerable but less than some of the commenters indicate. But by all means read for yourself – there’s a passionate debate here.

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Hillary Clinton at diner

from the Clinton ‘Sopranos’ ad

The Democratic frontrunner, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, finally has a Northwest public figure in her camp. So, of the top three candidates on each side in the race (Fred Thompson isn’t formally in the race yet – though he does have blog/radio support), all now have someone backing them in the Northwest.

She has not, until now, in any of the three Northwest states. But today came word that Washington Representative Jay Inslee has signed on, and was named chair of her energy committee.

Of Washington’s 11 members of Congress, just three – Inslee for Clinton, Democrat Adam Smith for Barack Obama, and Republican Dave Reichert for Rudy Giuliani – have declared support for a candidate. How long will the other eight hold out?

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Afew months back, 2006 Democratic congressional candidate Larry Grant, who lost to Republican Bill Sali in Idaho’s 1st House district, seemed to be rolling unopposed for the nomination to a rerun in 2008. (He has not formally announced, but is broadly presumed to be in the running, and has not discouraged the presumption.)

Matters have changed. An educator at Moscow, Rand Lewis, said last winter he plans to run in that primary as well. Then came last Sunday’s blast from Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey, who recounted a string of self-induced problems from Grant’s campaign last year along with his determination that the campaign was run, essential, just right. That seems to have jogged loose some additional Democratic interest.

The New West site is reporting this afternoon that Walt Minnick, a Boise businessman who in 1996 ran against Republican Senator Larry Craig, is interested in the 1st district Democratic nomination, at least to the point that people on his behalf are calling around to gauge interest. That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily running, of course. But it does tell you something about the present mindset of Idaho Democrats, as regards the Sali race.

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The reach of the Internet is such that tactics that may have worked well once might not work so well now. Case in point, Kari Chisholm’s amusing find on the Oregon legislative press release depository, showing identical press releases – identical, including quotes, except for the name of the senator – giving credit for a bill to each of a number of Republicans.

Problem being that none of them (none of those listed in Chisholm’s piece at least) floor sponsored the bill, or even signed on as formal sponsors.

(A question for Republican readers: Can you find a counterpart case for Democratic legislators, in Oregon or elsewhere? No instance comes to mind, but we wouldn’t be surprised if one or more exists. There are, however, variations: Members of Congress of both parties routinely proclaim how they delivered money and projects back to their districts, or performed various other herculean tasks. Maybe they did, sometimes. But many are certainly, how you say, exaggerations.)

News media reporters really should be catching, and reporting on, this kind of stuff.

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Culture battle commentary of the week turns up in the Ontario Argus Journal, where a story on the Fruitland School District’s decision to adopt a dress code and school uniform has drawn a mob of responses.

The most immediate trigger seems to have been this quote from a parent, Terence Eastburn, a recent immigrant from California: “They’re (the students) not able to express their individuality except through their clothing while they’re at school, and they’re trying to take that away. It’s against our children’s civil rights under the 14th amendment, called freedom of individuality. That’s what this is about.”

Yes, we’re tempted to jump in on that, but we’ll refer you instead to the comment section in the link above; the argument there will not bore.

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Before leaving behind this year’s edition of the Willamette Week‘s legislator review, we thought one mostly unexamined aspect of it should be noted: The frequent references to interest (by legislators) in running for higher, or at least other, office. (And note here too: The WW survey covered only lawmakers from the three-county Portland metro area.)

The article noted, in the case of one reputedly ambitious lawmakers, that he is interested in stepping up, just “like about half his colleagues.” So who was noted as on the bench, waiting for the call (or opportunity)?

bullet Senator Kate Brown, D-Portland, Senate majority leader. Was thought to be interested in the 3rd district U.S. House seat, but not now since incumbent Earl Blumenauer seems to be headed nowhere else. WW: “Her next move is up in the air.”

bullet Senator Ryan Deckert, D-Beaverton. Said to be “pondering a run” for state treasurer. (So, word has it, is Senator Ben Westlund, D-Tumalo.)

bullet Senator Rick Metsger, D-Welches. Thought to be considering a run for secretary of state, when incumbent Bill Bradbury is term-limited.

bullet Representative Jeff Merkley, D-Portland, House speaker. Considered a prospect for a wide range of possibilities, including governor.

bullet Representative Dave Hunt, D-Gladstone, House majority leader. Interested, WW said, in the U.S. House 5th district come the day incumbent Democrat Darlene Hooley retires.

bullet Representative Greg McPherson, D-Lake Oswego. Said to be interested in attorney general.

There are of course fewer Republicans than Democrats in the Portland metro. But still: WW mentioned not a one as interested in moving on.

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On the Klamath River

On the Klamath River

As we keep learning about federal policymaking in recent years, the picture consistently darkens, sometimes just by shades at a time. In point, a 2002 decision of consequence for the Northwest, and its origins.

The decision concerned water flows on the Klamath River, in southwestern Oregon and far northern California. The aridity was damaging the farm economy in the region centered on Klamath Falls. It also was damaging prospects for the area’s environment, and especially the region’s Coho salmon. The Bush Administration ordered the water given to the farmers, a locally popular decision and one you might expect the administration – given its philosophical stance – to make.

What emerged a while later was something suspected by the administration’s critics, that White House political director Karl Rove had intervened in the policy decision. More has been emerging since.

The subject of the Klamath policymaking came up in a deposition, released Monday, by former Department of the Interior official Susan Ralston, to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It is best seen in context of the testimony developed from a number of angles. In a piece on line today, reporter Jason Leopold summed:

According to Congressional investigators Rove used the PowerPoint presentation at the West Virginia retreat to solicit Republican donors. But Rove’s priority was to ensure that farmers in Oregon got the additional water they wanted from the Klamath River, so Senator [Gordon] Smith would be reelected. President Bush lost Oregon by less than one percent in the 2000 presidential election to Al Gore, according to polling results from the Associated Press.

Laying the groundwork to get Smith reelected, Rove set up a cabinet-level task force on Klamath River issues to specifically study whether diverting water from Klamath River to farmers would hurt the endangered Coho salmon population. The task force Rove set up gave the impression that the administration was going to take an unbiased look at the situation.

According to Michael Kelly, a National Marine Fisheries Service biologist, that wasn’t the case. Kelly spoke out publicly in 2003 alleging that he was subjected to political pressure and ordered to ignore scientific evidence that said the plan would likely kill off tens of thousands of Coho salmon, and to support the Klamath River low-water plan Rove wanted enacted to help farmers, who Rove saw as a crucial part of the Republican constituency in the state.

In March 2002, in a sudden reversal of a long standing policy, then Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and Senator Smith held a joint press conference in Klamath Falls and opened up the irrigation system releasing thousands of gallons of water to 220,000 acres of farmland.

Connecting the dots.

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