Here’s a sequel we’ll be itching to read – the followup to today’s piece in Crosscut by Chris Vance, the former Washington state Republican chair and now a political consultant.

His first piece, dated today, is a compelling and useful rundown of the road from the days (pre-Depression) when Washington was a Republican-dominated state, to today, when the party is just short of marginalized. He writes: “I’m not working on a campaign, but I still seem to spend a lot of time thinking about and talking about Washington state politics, and one reality constantly looms: the Republican collapse of 2006. What happened? What does it mean? Can Republicans recover, and if so, how long will it take? This is obviously a subject of some personal interest to me but should also concern anyone who values a competitive two-party system.”

Causes cited in article 1 include Washington’s relative secularism (though he points out that major Republican campaigns in recent years have not been based around social conservatism), Democratic financing and superior Democratic candidate recruitment. We agree with parts of his analysis so far, quibble with others, and think he omits some crucial factors, but overall it is worth a careful read.

We’re eager to see his promised prescription.

(Note to Idaho Democrats: You guys might want to read this two-parter too.)

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Washington

Current major fires

Showing location of all the current “large incident” fires in the United States/NIFC

Driving around the Northwest week before last, we were struck by the amount of smoke in the air. And got to see one substantial-size burn, south of I-84 in the Irrigon-Hermiston area. A hot summer, and dry around the region until the last few days, the fires have had little to tamp them down.

The latest run of showers around the western part of the Northwest seems to have helped. But not everywhere. The National Interagency Fire Center says fires now have become concentrated heavily around Idaho – this map certainly confirms as much. As does the Idaho governor’s office, which has declared fire emergencies in five counties. Such emergency declarations aren’t commonplace in Idaho.

As does the Spokesman-Review‘s Betsy Russell, on Boise’s air quality at the moment.

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Idaho

The Joel Connelly column today on the political significance of advisors – name-checking the Bush Administration, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire and her prospective challenger Dino Rossi – prompts a somewhat related train of thought.

The column focused on advisors to Gregoire and Rossi as they move toward open combat, and mentioned Lisa Grove, a pollster at Portland working for Gregoire, and who worked for Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski in his race last year.

The thought was that the recent Oregon experience of gubernatorial races might be instructive for Washingtonians.

In 2002, the governor’s office was open on the ballot and Kulongoski was opposed by Republican Kevin Mannix. Quite a few independent observers, and quite a few Republicans, thought that year the strongest Republican to run statewide (strongest seeking the governorship anyway) was attorney Ron Saxton. Saxton was running as a relative moderate, and the sense was that he could win the centrist vote better than Mannix, who was running as a conservative, period. Mannix won the Republican primary. In November he lost, narrowly, to Kulongoski, though he did do better than many had expected.

Roll up to 2006. Kulongoski is up for re-election, and both Saxton and Mannix are running again too. This time the Republican primary voters choose Saxton, taking the argument that he is more electable. Saxton runs, however, as (at least seemingly and perceptually) more conservative, which helps in the primary but apparently hurts in the general. Kulongoski wins this time by a bigger margin.

At this point, Oregon Republicans are having a rough time trying to figure out where to go next.

If you’re a Washington Republican, prepping for governor’s race next year, what conclusion do you draw from all that?

In 2006, the governor’s race between Gregoire and Rossi ended in a photo-finish. Rossi’s vote was better than many had expected beforehand, exceeding expectations. His mission, should he decide to accept it, is to better that performance in 2008. So how does he do that?

Does he tack more strongly to the middle? There’s little evidence that, in this new decade, that is working for Northwest Republicans.

Does he try to keep the base together by sticking with it philosophically? That doesn’t seem to accomplish much either, beyond the primary. But early indications, as Connelly’s column suggests, indicate that may be the route he’s taking.

Well, he has to do something (assuming he runs). And there’s not a lot of evidence right now to indicate what the winning strategy is.

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Lane County population
Five times between here and mid-September, the Lane County Commission will hold meetings around the county to discuss what should become of Lane County government.

It’s a more practical question than you might think. With funding (especially federal) diminished, the county is in a budget squeeze, and the commissioners are divided over how to deal with it – even over such basic matters as whether employment or compensation should be trimmed first. So each commissioner will be hosting, starting on Wednesday and evening September 12, a public meeting on what priorities ought to be. All of that will precede the commission’s first round of talks (earlier than usual, in October) on next year’s budget.

Voters here have recently, and a couple of times, rejected income tax increases – so that option appears to be out. But what’s in?

The Eugene Register-Guard has a useful overview out today on the commission’s split viewpoints (though two commissioners weren’t talking) and the options before it. It’s a good look at the kind of discussions many of the federally-reliant counties will be having in the months ahead.

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Oregon

99 and Federal Way Somewhere there exists – we’ve seen it but can’t find the name – a book on the part of Highway 99 that runs through the Northwest. You can find on Amazon.com two books covering the road’s mileage in California; writing on the northern stretch remains elusive. More is merited: There’s a lot of history here, and a lot of connection with the present.

Wikipedia says the road was built roughly out of the ages-old Siskiyou Trail, connecting Native Americans from the Puget Sound south into central and southern California. Settlers from the east dug the path more thoroughly, and in the car age it became the Pacific Highway, linking the borders at Mexico and Canada with everything between. It expanded, grew, was designated U.S. 99, and eventually in the mid-60s was superseded by Interstate 5. U.S. 99 was turned into state highways, California 99 and Oregon 99 and Washington 99 (and a bunch of county and city roads, in many places), and split in some areas (most of the route in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is divided between 99W and 99E).

When practical (often when time is not tight), we prefer taking 99 over the freeway alternative. You can see a lot more of what’s really there from 99. In many places, the beauty of the Northwest is much more evidence from 99 than from the interstate. (Some of the controversy too: Alaskan Way in Seattle is on 99.) The highway runs smack through the center of many communities, not skirting them. 99 is educational.

And more, as writer John Moe explains today in the Seattle Times.

Moe, now a Seattle writer, originally is from Federal Way, a fact he admits to fudging at times – “‘Seattle,’ I tell them, before adding very quietly, ‘area.'”

Federal Way today is a large city, estimated at 86,530 people, the 11th largest city in the Northwest and one of the fastest-growing, but still little known – probably few people outside Washington or with little personal connection to it know much of anything about it. It is a new city, incorporated only 17 years ago out of southwestern King County sprawl; development of a genuine civic identity remains an ongoing project.

Moe addresses this, noting first that Federal Way is a city named for a road that runs through it – the local section of Highway 99 – and asks, “Where is Federal Way’s soul?”

Replies one person he knows: “Isn’t SeaTac Mall really the soul?” Another: “Well, there’s always Federal Shopping Way or whatever they call it now.”

Well, that’s a lot of what you see from Highway 99, which runs very much through town. If you look quick you can make out the new city hall structure, and the attempts at creating a downtown center – worthy enough plans. But most of Federal Way looks like an endless retail highway, with houses bundled up behind; some of all of this old, some of it new.

Where is Federal Way’s soul? Look maybe to Highway 99, its older as well as newer incarnations. It’s a real road with history and life; we’re not kidding when we suggest that you might just find some actual soul there.

[Map/city of Federal Way]

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Washington

The Seattle Weekly has totaled the numbers on legislative campaign finance so far, and come up with this:

“. . . the House Democratic Campaign Committee (formerly the House Democratic Caucus Campaign Committee) already has more than $450,000 in the bank— 10 times more than the Republicans have saved up. The House Republican Organizing Committee reports just $40,621 for the period ending June 30, according to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission.”

Slipping into extreme minority position makes the work a lot harder – a sequence of negative expectations starts to kick in. As hole get deeper, they get ever-harder to climb out of.

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Washington

Part-way into this fine Vanity Fair piece on the development of torture as a foreign policy tool (you’ll find the start of it on the second page), you’ll run into something startling – the strong Spokane connection to the torture research & development industry.

Two of the main figures involved, “James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen played a key role in developing the Air Force’s sere program, which was administered in Spokane, Washington. Dr. Bryce Lefever, command psychologist on the U.S.S. Enterprise and a former sere trainer who worked with Mitchell and Jessen at the Fairchild Air Base, says he was waterboarded during his own training.” (Much of the article’s focus, by the way, is on how invalid most torture-obtained information is.)

Hat tip to Jack Bog’s Blog, which has been following this.

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Washington

Steve Novick

Steve Novick

From an e-mail Democratic Senate candidate Steve Novick shot around Oregon today, making the point that one’s friends can be as much a hazard as the other guys.

(You get some sense of Novick’s personality in the process . . .)

So today “Just Out,” the Portland newsweekly of the gay community, puts me on the cover, which is nice, but then quotes me as saying that we need to “ask people in this country to pay higher taxes” and that “our opponents will convince the public that we’re doing things that are way too dangerous.” Of course, what I actually said was that we need to ask SOME people (e.g., people who make all their money from capital gains) to pay higher taxes, and that if we try to really deal with the problems of the country – health care, global warming, the Federal fiscal mess — our opponents will TRY TO convince the public that we’re doing things that are way too dangerous. (If I were convinced our opponents would always win, I wouldn’t run!) I’m
sending you this note as a pre-response to the Smith ad next year highlighting the tax misquote … Still, it’s nice to be on the cover holding my copy of the Schlesinger book on Bobby Kennedy …

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Oregon

City clubs with their luncheon speakers like to say, through their slogans, that nothing happens until people start talking. There’s truth in that. But also in this: When people abruptly quit talking, something almost certainly already is happening.

Eyes once again, then, to Micron Technology at Boise.

The Boise Idaho Statesman this morning ran a richly provocative interview by columnist Dan Popkey with Gordon Smith, a board director at Micron, and formerly an executive at the J.R. Simplot Company. A view into the company via the Statesman at all is rare these days, since it hasn’t been officially talking to the paper or most anyone in the Boise media except for KTVB-TV (Channel 7). But Smith, speaking for himself, did speak up, and he had some fascinating things to say. (The paper ran a story on the Smith interview, but the transcript is the thing to read.)

In a sense, there are no surprises here; but hearing it from the inside – of the board – did give confirmation to the already widely suspected.

Such as this: “This [layoff] is probably the first cut, and I’m not saying that there’ll be more, but certainly I would guess that what Steve (Appleton) has got in the back of his mind is there will be jobs that will be transferred — say they’ll either be outsourced or they’ll be transferred to other countries. Some of these jobs the people may have a chance to keep the jobs they have, if they’re willing to transfer. Very possibly to a foreign country, Southeast Asia. That’s kind of the hotbed for the tech industry. China. Singapore. Taipei. You know, all those places.”

And, “I’m gonna kind of step out of line here just a little bit, but this board that we have now in my estimation is very passive. They all come from big companies. They’ve all got their own problems. And for them to turn around and get right into the middle of the Micron problems I think it’s a little more than what they want to take on, OK? Now that’s my opinion.”

And talking about the long-time CEO, Steve Appleton, “moving on.”

And saying he was unaware that the company hadn’t been speaking with the media (excepting KTVB).

Micron officials were asked for comment, and declined.

The story prompted a rush on Gordon Smith by other news organizations, television and the Idaho Business Review, and he initially agreed to at least one interview. Then spokesmen for Micron and Smith called back: No interviews for Smith, none for Micron. The cone of silence had descended again.

And a city watches, and waits.

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Idaho

Larry Craig

Larry Craig

Senator Larry Craig‘s Senate floor statement on the consequences of destabilizing Iraq – throwing the supply of oil into that mix – is less sweeping or conclusive than some sites are suggesting. The indication is that Craig was saying we’re in Iraq because of oil; a reading of his floor statement shows that he didn’t say that. (His floor statement in full appears after the jump.)

Some of what he did say was striking enough, though.

Craig is a capable, even gifted, floor speaker, and some of his comments – especially in the earlier sections – wandered and recycled quite a bit. He was quick to say the late-night Senate Iraq debate was political, which of course it was at least in part. He also entered a shot that the Senate was trying to get into battlefield decisions (which it wasn’t; it was debating the policy matter of whether the country should be in the battlefield at all). And there was some discussion about veterans legislation, which didn’t seem on point to the issues at hand. He reiterated some “cutting and running” rhetoric.

After all that, he found some focus on a serious and difficult question: What happens after departing Iraq? “What happens if we don’t find a strategic way out?” he asked. “It is important that we put ourselves in perspective of the world that involves Iraq and its surrounding neighbors. You have heard a lot of rhetoric about the instability, about the role of Iran and certainly what’s going on in the north here with the Kurdish population and what Turkey is doing, amassing troops along this border. You’ve heard about what’s going on in Lebanon and certainly the traumatic reality that is happening there. Premature withdrawal from Iraq would risk, I believe, plunging this–that Nation into chaos which could spill over its borders into the gulf region that you see here.”

Serious points. From there he moved to this:

Tehran would extend its destabilizing activities to another very important part of the region – Kuwait – and the oil-rich regions of eastern Saudi Arabia along this border here, one of the larger producing oilfields in the region and the kingdom could well fall. And those are the realities we face at this moment that I think few want to talk about. Let’s talk about another consequence.

I will put the balance of my statement in the record. But the other
consequence, Mr. President, that we’ve not talked about is what happens when 54 percent of the world’s oil supply goes to risk with a collapse of the region. And this is a reality check that we only talk about in hushed terms, because we don’t like to talk
about our dependency on a part of the world that is so unstable.

Not the same thing as saying, “this is why we’re there.” But it does translate to saying one of the key reasons we’re still there is, “because of oil.”

And that does provide his Democratic challenger, Larry LaRocco, with the grounds for responding (as he did to New West) with this: “Craig’s silence all along on the Iraq war and his failure to challenge the Bush administration’s failed policies – even after the casualties mounted – led me to suspect there is something else beyond terrorism in his silence. And now we know.”

Craig’s floor statement:

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I stand in front of a desk in which a
former Idaho senator by the name of William E. Borah stood. He was
renowned for a variety of things after the turn of the 19th into the
20th century. He was an outspoken isolationist and opposed Woodrow
Wilson and led the battle to destroy the League of Nations. He was
successful. We never joined the League of Nations. America came home
from World War I, pulled up its bridges and it remained a relatively
isolated island in a world until World War II.
We know times have changed. We also know that great debates about
foreign policy have occurred on the floor of the Senate down through
the centuries. We have had a very valuable debate over the last 24
hours in large part about foreign policy but in a surprising way about
military tactics.
There is one role that we play here in the United States Senate and
that role is a political role, it is not a military role. Not 535
generals. There are a few of us–I’m not one of those–who’ve had
extensive military experience and who might have the kind of strategic
knowledge necessary to make decisions that are general–that our
generals could and are making on the field at this moment. But I am
always suprised when we decide to become tacticians, when we decide to
use the floor of the United States Senate as a command center, when we
meet in secret rooms around the Capitol to decide how troop movements
out to happen and what the rules of engagement ought to be. No, we
shouldn’t be playing that role. That’s why when we confirmed General
Petraeus unanimously in the Senate, we said to him very clearly, you go
to Iraq in relation to a surge that is being implemented and you come
back to us and give us your honest and fair assesement in September.
So why then the last 24 hours have we been deciding or trying to
prejudge Petraeus, to jump in front of him acting like the general that
he is and the general who is on the ground in Baghdad as we speak? It
is raw politics. That’s what it is all about. And that’s what you have
seen played out here in the last 24 hours. Now, I would be the first to
tell you that good politics sometimes doesn’t produce good policy,
especially if you’re reacting at the moment–if you are reacting at a
snapshot of a polling data where the American people are reacting
because they have been fed information instantly about something that
may or may not be true in the broader perspective.
But that’s what we’re doing here, and that’s what we do best. But let
me suggest that sometimes good policy–so why then the last 24 hours
have we been deciding or trying to prejudge Petraeus, to jump in front
of him acting like the general that he is and the general who is on the
ground in Baghdad as we speak? It is raw politics. That’s what it is
all about. And that’s what you have seen played out here in the last 24
hours. Now, I would be the first to tell you that good politics
sometimes doesn’t produce good policy, especially if you’re reacting at
the moment–if you’re reacting at a snapshot of a polling data where
the American people are reacting because they have been fed information
instantly about something that may or may not be true in the broader
perspective.
But that is what we’re doing here, and that is what we do best. But
let me suggest that sometimes good policy–good politics does not in
the long term produce good policy. It is with that point in mind that I
hope that the Levin-Reed Amendment goes down that it doesn’t gain the
necessary votes to proceed to a final vote.
We ought to be focused on the content of the National Defense
Authorization Act and all that it means to our country and to our
veterans because of a variety of key amendments that have been placed
in this very important document. And I think that America, if they’ve
been watching C-SPAN for the last 24 hours have not heard one word or
very few words about the embodiment of this bill and its value and what
it will do to the long-term stability of our military and the care of
our veterans.
I was once chair. I am now Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs
Committee and Senator Akaka and I have put a very large and valuable
amendment in there that deals with traumatic brain injury and the
extension of eligibility of the eligibility of care as we work to
create a seamless environment between men and women coming out of our
armed services and becoming veterans and becoming eligible for the care
that our Veterans Administration can provide for them. Mental health
evaluations, trying to get ahead of traumatic brain injury that may not
manifest itself for months and years after men and women come out of
the armed services. Dental care for our returning service members and
homeless programs and all other kinds of things are embodied in this
very important legislation.
So, I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, you have had
your 24 hours of politics. Now I hope we can have a vote, move on, and
get to the final passage of the Defense Authorization Act that is so
important to our country in the short term and in the long term, and I
would hope that this Senate shows some consistency in what we do, and
that consistency would be to wait until September in what I think will
be a fair and honest and factual evaluation by General Petraeus as to
the situation, the current environment and the future in Iraq. And at
that time, as a United States Senator representing the State of Idaho,
I am prepared to make decisions that are different than those today as
it relates to our involvement in Iraq, if the facts so demonstrate it.
General Petraeus has a lot of credibility, not only with this
Congress but with the American people and the polls are showing that.
While Americans are very frustrated over the war in Iraq, they don’t
want to cut and run at this moment, and that’s what Levin-Reed is all
about, cutting and running.
And what happens if we do that? What happens if we don’t find a
strategic way out? It is important that we put ourselves in perspective
of the world that involves Iraq and its surrounding neighbors. You have
heard a lot of rhetoric about the instability, about the role of Iran
and certainly what’s going on in the north here with the Kurdish
population and what Turkey is doing, amassing troops along this border.
You’ve heard about what’s going on in Lebanon and certainly the
traumatic reality that is happening there. Premature withdrawal from
Iraq would risk, I believe, plunging this–that Nation into chaos which
could spill over its borders into the gulf region that you see here.
Iran, which is a threat to vital U.S. interests and continues to
provide lethal support to Shia militants who target and kill U.S.
troops and innocent Iraqis, would exploit our premature departure to
dominate and control much of -Iraq. Here they are, a very large nation
with very powerful forces and resources, just waiting for the
opportunity to fulfill their historic Persian vision of the region.
Tehran’s terrorist proxy to Hezbollah continues to foment in
instability in Lebanon. They’ve already leapfrogged Iraq. They’re over
here, creating tremendous influence in that region. Hamas, another Iran
proxy, continues to kill and maim innocent Israelis and Palestinians
and is attempting to establish a jihadist state in the Gaza.
Here we are–another leapfrog over Iraq. Iraq is simply in the way of
Iran. It’s quite plain. It’s quite simple. And it is very visual when
you look at the map. And without some stability in Iran–in Iraq, the
ability of it to control itself and its borders, the ability to govern
itself, the reality of what could happen in the region is in fact
dramatic consequences, a collapse, a major war within the region, not
only a civil war within Iraq but the ability of Iran and Syria to
exploit the situation that would occur there. Tehran would extend its
destabilizing activities to another very important part of the region–
Kuwait–and the oil-rich regions of eastern Saudi Arabia along this
border here, one of the larger producing oilfields in the region and
the kingdom could well fall. And those are the realities we face at
this moment that I think few want to talk about. Let’s talk about
another consequence.
I will put the balance of my statement in the record. But the other
consequence, Mr. President, that we’ve not
talked about is what happens when 54 percent of the world’s oil supply
goes to risk with a collapse of the region. And this is a reality check
that we only talk about in hushed terms, because we don’t like to talk
about our dependency on a part of the world that is so unstable. With
those thoughts, I yield the floor.
What happens to the world energy supply if Iran does gain more
control in the Middle East? What are the realities of the consequences
of an Iran that possibly could gain control over 54% of the world
energy supply? They could place a choke hold over the Strait of Hormuz
and possibly in sea lanes in the region, severely limiting the supply
of oil to the world market. That is not just a reality that the United
States must face, but a reality for the world. I have worked very hard
with my colleagues to lessen the U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
However, we are not yet capable of raising production in the United
States because we have been blocked by the other side of the aisle from
doing so. Therefore, a premature withdrawal from Iraq could have dire
consequences with our economy and energy supply; but would also have
the same effects on the world economy.
The facts are, Mr. President, that the war we are fighting in Iraq
has serious and real national security implications and we cannot
prejudge our best and brightest military commanders by playing politics
with their duties and best judgement. We should not preempt General
Petraeus’s progress report coming in September and I hope that the
Senate will go on record today as saying we are not a body of generals,
we do not know best how to conduct a war and determine how many troops
it will take to secure Iraq. I hope that my colleagues will join me in
voting down Levin-Reed.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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Idaho

The Boise mayoral debate between incumbent Dave Bieter and challenger (and council member) Jim Tibbs emerged about as lopsided as we suspected it might, and for the same reasons: Tibbs has utterly failed to develop a rationale for his candidacy. A (well-regarded) career in the Boise police force, and a long stretch as a respected community figure, isn’t it, and he’s giving no evidence he knows that.

The 55-minute debate, sponsored by IQ Idaho (a business magazine), is posted on the KBOI radio site; watch for yourself. What we see boils down cleanly.

There are more eloquent speakers than Beiter, but he concise and clear, and displayed a sweeping grasp of the city’s situation and its options. He cited specifics (more park space, Community House resolution, expanded library services among them) in making a fair-sounding case for a successful first term and a rationale for a second.

Tibbs was maddeningly vague. He spoke of how better relations with extra-city officials (other local agencies, legislators and others) would be good; to accomplish what exactly, he doesn’t really say. And how he’s been disappointed that the city hasn’t done better in recent years. Thought it’s done good. Though relations between the mayor and the council (on which he sits) are okay. He guesses. Boise can do better, he said; but how? He never said. What would make it better? Didn’t say. Boise is special, he said; but you’d have to scrape through the debate to get any sense of what he think specifically makes it so. Specifics were so lacking through so much of his talk that in many places you had to remind yourself that this really was a guy with deep roots in Boise – the bulk of what he said sounded so generic it could have been ghost written by someone who’d never visited Boise.

Bieter comparatively was far more specific, clear on foothills developmnt (he’s generally against it), while Tibbs wove between concern for the foothills and private property rights – where he would wind up was anyone’s guess. A Boise mayor probably should be more specific than Bieter is on Boise’s long-range growth, but he has at least a general vision for how it ought to grow, and what specific considerations should be borne in mind. Good luck trying to summarize Tibbs’ view on any of this.

None of these takes are especially unique to this site. New West has said some of the same. And the Idaho Statesman‘s editorial today led with this: “There’s a long way to go until the Nov. 6 Boise mayor’s election.That’s a good thing for City Councilman Jim Tibbs, because he has a long way to go to make a case to replace incumbent Dave Bieter.”

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Idaho

Portland Mayor Tom Potter‘s immediate political future – that is, whether he runs for re-election next year – remains unclear; the man himself isn’t sayin’. But with announcement time presumably getting somewhere near (not long after Labor Day, supposedly), interest is growing.

If he doesn’t run, Council member Sam Adams is considered likely to run. Others are out there as prospects, too, including businessman Roy Jay, an interesting personality and prospect.

But will Potter run? The Portland Tribune is indicating not. A reader poll on Jack Bog’s Blog is thinking he won’t run (readers voting that way 89-29).

Increasingly, we’re inclined to agree.

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Oregon

Lane Shetterly

Lane Shetterly

That Lane Shetterly isn’t an Oregon household name is a little amazing, and suggests the difficulty – his resignation now announced – Governor Ted Kulongoski may have in replacing him.

Chosen in 2004 to head the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, he settled into office just as Measure 37, which upended key parts of the agency’s mission, was being passed, and becoming the highest-profile issue in the state. That alone would have been enough trouble for many people to handle. Atop that, Shetterly had another prospective problem spot. He was a Republican, a Republican legislator (one of the declining numbers of moderates) appointed to the directorate by a Democratic governor. Had he slipped seriously, on his trek through the hurricane, maybe Kulongoski would have felt some loyalty and tried to help, but neither political party would have had a great interest in going out of their way on his behalf.

He never really did seem to slip up, though. He seemed to manage the department with caution and care – two excellent attributes under the circumstances – and when he spoke in public, he projected openness and also measured his words. He entered into no big public squabbles. We recall an instance interviewing him during one of the Measure 37 transition points; his responses were clear and comprehensible and met the questions, open without being so casual as to trip any land mines.

If the new Measure 49, revising 37, passes this year, Shetterly’s management at LCD may be one of the reasons.

Formerly a state House member from Dallas, he is returning to his family’s law practice (Shetterly Irick & Ozias: his father was a firm founder, and he worked there too for many years) in that city. Kulongoski’s task now is no less clear but may be more difficult: Finding someone who can maintain so sure a track in the months ahead.

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Oregon

The city of Bellevue appears to be moving ahead on something Seattle has been struggling with: Controlling the explosion in supersized megahouses.

No formal regulations yet; options are still under review. But restrictions do appear to be on the way.

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Washington

Peter Goldmark

Peter Goldmark

Doug Sutherland

Doug Sutherland

The last outcome, last year, wasn’t all that promising: After a strong push and widespread word that the race would be close, Democrat Peter Goldmark didn’t wind up especially close to taking out Republican Representative Cathy McMorris. Of course, he was then running in one of the most Republican parts of Washington, and this time he’ll be running in Washington overall, which could change the picture.

So, Goldmark’s announcement Monday that he’s running for state lands commissioner, the job now held by Republican Doug Sutherland. It could be doable.

On one hand, Sutherland hasn’t been an especially controversial office holder, seems to have generally good relations around Olympia. And he has background in the key swing area of Tacoma and Pierce County, where he was twice elected mayor and twice county executive, respectively. He’s been elected commissioner twice statewide.

But those wins weren’t spectacular. In 2000, he won by a close 49.5%-45.1%, although that involved beating a former (and controversial) governor, Mike Lowry. In 2004, when he might have been expected to do much better, his margin diminished: 50%-46.7% over Democrat Mike Cooper, who never caught fire but did fire shots at Sutherland that have echoes in Goldmark’s now.

Goldmark’s rationale is simply put: “From the perspective of rural communities, school districts, users and neighbors of our state lands, we see a Commissioner that is too tied to corporate interests, too focused on short term profits at the expense of long term planning, and frankly not listening to the people impacted by his decisions in Olympia. I’ll bring a unique perspective to the office-a voice for rural Washington, for long term conservation goals, and sustainable resources and revenues for our communities and educational institutions.”

His early start will help. And hailing as he does from Okanogan County, he may be able to dig a little (not to overstate the matter) into the normal Republican numbers east of the Cascades. And, of course, Washington has been trending Democratic in the last few elections, and Sutherland has scant margin to lose.

Sutherland may need to jump in soon himself, if he wants a third term.

ALSO As David Postman writes, and the Post-Intelligencer has reported, state Senator Erik Poulsen, D-West Seattle, and King County Councilman Dow Constantine have been noted as expressing interest. Will Goldmark’s nearly official entry dampen theirs?

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