Writings and observations

the giant worm

the giant worm

The chatter by stevenl on Olyblog about designating the mountain beaver as Washington’s state rodent – and please don’t tell anyone in Oregon that the beaver is a rodent – is one thing.

But we can tell you right now why this second idea is a political non-starter: What politician would want to give his constituency nightmares?

That may be why newspapers seem to have been a little wary in their coverage of newly-found cases (first in a couple of decades) of the giant Palouse earthworm (Driloleirus americanus). This charming creature is reported to grow as long as three feet (though usually half or less of that), and “is albino in appearance, and when handled it gives off a scent similar to that of the lily flower. It is reported to be able to spit in self-defense.” (The worm is listed as somewhat threatened, officially “vulnerable.” Some people may feel better knowing that.)

stevenl offers, “The beauty of making both of these uniquely Pacific Northwest animals official state symbols is that they will represent both sides of the state, mountain beavers on the wet side, giant Palouse earthworms on the high and dry side.”

Hmm. Wonder what the people in Colfax and Pomeroy would say about that. One of Olyblog’s commenters wrote, “That’s one frightening worm. I’m going to have nightmares tonight.” (Ever seen the movie Tremors?)

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Washington

Oregon politics watchers need to read a Thursday piece in the Ashland Daily Tidings, taking a look at the shifting politics in Jackson County (the Medford/Ashland area).

And they do seem to be changing, matching with our vote tracking. The Tidings piece doesn’t overstate – Medford, and Jackson County as a whole, still has a Republican registration advantage and elects overall more Republicans than Democrats. But the percentages have been changing, and Medford has been gradually moving increasingly in the direction that other Northwest urban centers have, to the point that Democrats have become competitive in the county.

Consider this from the story: “Brian Platt of Medford, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party, agrees that the local GOP has seen a deflection locally, but argues that just because some voters might have left the Republican Party officially does not mean that they are now voting Democratic.”

But if they’ve gone to the trouble of formally cutting off from the Republican Party, that certainly can’t be taken as much of a sign that they’re planning to continue voting for Republicans as they traditionally have. (Hat tip to Blue Oregon.)

REGISTRATION STATS Statewide and in most counties, the number of registered voters in Oregon declined from January to July (the most recent numbers available) – mainly, presumably, as voters were cleared off the rolls because of moves, deaths and so on. Maybe notable, though, is that while Democratic statewide registration fell by 10,021 to 756,108, Republican registration fell 11,676 to 691,450. The Democratic registration advantage seems to be gently expanding.

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Oregon