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Posts published in “Day: August 20, 2007”

On today’s Riley

Afew quick thoughts on the just-posted Riley Research Associates statewide Oregon poll on presidential, Senate and ballot matters around the state. (Happily for analysts, crosstabs are included.)

bullet The size of the undecideds in the presidential and Senate contests. After all these months of intensive headlines, we're struck by the large number of people who have yet to make of their minds, maybe most notably in the presidential contest - on both sides. (Maybe the Republicans especially: Nine polled-for candidates and 35% - among women, 46% - can't express support for any of them? Not that the Democrats are so very much stronger.) That suggests some serious fluidity in the two contests; a lot is up for grabs and can happen. We're not quite sure what to make of the seeming runup in former Senator John Edwards' numbers.

bullet The low Smith numbers. Out of context, the matchup of Republican Senator Gordon Smith and Democrat Jeff Merkley (no Steve Novick numbers, unfortunately) at 38% to 19% looks not bad for Smith. But add the context. Merkley has just entered the race, and remains hardly known outside his Portland-area state House district. (His best numbers are in the Portland metro.) The polling does include Independent John Frohnmayer (7%, which sounds high), who may or may not enter. The undecideds are at 35%, which ought to be a huge red flag for Smith - undecideds usually break for challengers. Smith's 38% isn't good. And don't get us started on his 44% in central and eastern Oregon, which usually runs 65%-75% for upper-ticket Republicans. This has the look of a highly competitive race.

bullet Backers of the ballot measures, 49 (land use) and 50 (tobacco tax), have work to do. We've suggested from the start that these measures are passable if a solid campaign for them is staged. But they are not done deals, and the current 58% for the first and 53% for the second, with substantial undecideds, isn't strong enough to allow their supporters to coast.

UPDATE Should have noted here some of the difficulties with this poll and for that matter with any poll so early - none of them would be suitable for taking to the bank. We find the numbers interesting, but no more than that - very far from conclusive. There's a useful detailed critique of this one specifically on the MyDD blog by Oregon blogger torridjoe.

Sali primary: A name attaches

Pat Takasugi

Pat Takasugi

When you have a primary challenge to an incumbent higher-level elected official - U.S. representative, say - from someone who has yet to be elected to anything and isn't really a public figure, there's a usual tendency to shuffle it aside as a matter of attention. And, usually, for good reason: Such races only rarely go anywhere.

Matt Salisbury of Nampa, who has said he will run in the Republican primary against Idaho 1st District Representative Bill Sali, has fit the criterion; after a small flurry of attention in early July when he announced, we've not heard much more (nor been able to locate a campaign web site, we should add).

We have not been given a lot of rationale for Salisbury's race, mostly what can be implied from some early comments to the Associated Press, that he “described himself as a ‘Lincoln Republican’ who believes politicians should stay ‘out of your bedroom and out of your social mores.’ ‘Idahoans deserve a candidate who doesn’t represent social engineering, who doesn’t represent anything other than carrying out the public trust.'" (Which seemed to set him up as running to the left of Sali, at least as assessed by Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance: "These phrases, of course, are right out of the playbook of secular fundamentalists, who do not want to give religious convictions any place at all in public policy debates.")

We do now, however, have a more visible public figure associated with the race: Former state Agriculture Director Pat Takasugi, who also is a former chair of the Canyon County Republicans, who has signed on as campaign chairman. Interviewed by the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Takasugi (like Salisbury) didn't much get into specifics about why Sali ought to be ousted.

What we'll have to watch at this point is whether he is able to pull other prominent Republicans into Salisbury's race. That's not a given; but we'd have to put the Salisbury campaign into a new category at this point.

A call to impeach, no less

Last week Oregon Senator Ron Wyden held town hall meetings in-state about Iraq. Wyden was among the minority of senators opposed to war in Iraq from the beginning, among those most consistently critical. He seemed to barely escape with his skin intact from the Portland event (more than 300 during a noon hour), and Eugene wasn't a lot kinder: Wyden wasn't nearly critical enough of the Bush administration to suit these Oregon crowds.

Said one: "Do you have any idea how angry we are at the Democrats?" - for not being sufficiently fierce in opposition. He went on to ask: "How do you sleep at night?" Oregonian columnist David Sarasohn suggested that "the audience members demanding impeachment were the moderates."

We're not suggesting here that those 300 were typical of all Oregon voters. But we do think there's a change in the political center of gravity, that some ideas and concepts not quite mainstream even a few months ago may be becoming so.

Call that preface to today's announcement from the new Jeff Merkley Democratic campaign for the Senate (against Republican incumbent Gordon Smith) calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. (Specifically, he's supporting the resolution introduced a few weeks back by Washington Representative Jay Inslee.)

"Only through impeachment proceedings will we be able to hold the Attorney General accountable for his actions. I applaud Oregon's four Democratic Congressional Members for their early leadership in co-sponsoring the Inslee resolution in the House," he wrote.

Three or four months ago, you might have called that daring. Today, it's a signal that Merkley's aiming for the Oregon Democratic mainstream.

Persistence

Check out by all means the fine appreciation piece Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer runs today on Karen Marchioro, a former state Democratic chair and probably as active in party politics recently as then (in the 80s).

When Washington Democrats were wounded and bleeding after the 1980 election, Marchioro led the party through a decade-long recovery, into strong majority status again by the time she retired as chair in 1992. Then came the 1994 crash and Republican triumph. Signal for Marchioro (and her husband, Jeff Smith) to get to work again. And after another decade, Democrats are back.

Connelly: "The lady is tenacious, but lately has slowly given ground to the most relentless of adversaries: She has cancer. It's time for an appreciation - of Marchioro, to be sure, but, by implication, of those across the spectrum who keep a democracy renewing itself and never crawl into a corner after losing."