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Posts published in “Day: October 9, 2007”

Spokane smackdowns

Dennis Hession

Dennis Hession

Mary Verner

Mary Verner

The Spokane mayoral race has become increasingly heated, but it seemed to take a distinctly new, and fierce, turn on Monday. That came during one in a lengthy series of debates (another was scheduled for tonight) when Mayor Dennis Hession said that Council member Mary Verner, who is running against him, proposed establishing an Indian casino in a downtown building. (Verner, we should note, is staff director for a regional inter-tribe organization.)

The exchange (audio is available online) was launched with a question from Hession to Verner: Last year, "you approached me on behalf of one of the gaming native tribes about purchasing the Rookery block for the purpose of developing the area as a gaming site. What is your position about gaming in the downtown area and the city of Spokane?"

Verner: "First, I unequivocally deny that I ever approached you on behalf of any of the tribes regarding a gaming facility in downtown Spokane, and I defy you to produce any evidence that I did so." She said that so far as she knew, none of the tribes she works with has ever approached the city with such an idea. (Hession acknowledged that he had no concrete record of the conversation.)

Here we have some high drama, of a sort you only occasionally see (less often than many people would say) in political campaigns. This isn't a difference of opinion of a matter of interpretation: Only one of these candidates can be telling the truth.

They've got some interesting debates ahead of them, don't they?

Spokane voters may wish they'd been issued a lie detector along with their ballots.

Careful what you propose . . .

There's a sensible political idea among some Democrats that they might be well advised to enter into the ballot issue arena, turf where so many of the Northwest's recent issues have been right-originated. That can make some sense for either side.

Assuming, of course, one chooses one's issues wisely. On that front, Democrats might want to take a deep breath before they choose what they want to be identified with.

Ted Blaszak of Democracy Resources posted the general idea at Blue Oregon, along with responses to a question his group posed at the recent Democratic gathering at Sunriver: "Do you have a good idea for a progressive ballot measure?" He got responses. Some of them may be fairly unobjectionable: "Increase tax incentives for homebuilders who use sustainable methods". Or just intriguing: "Fusion voting."

But there are some others here - and to be clear, these were only suggestions from individuals, not endorsements from any Democratic group - but worth noting here since Blaszak went quit public with them at Blue Oregon - that Democrats might want to think about carefully before aligning with:

bullet "Abolish the kicker"

bullet "Fine adults who don't vote"

bullet "Increase the gas tax to pay for local public transportation"

bullet "A progressive sales tax"

bullet "Require a supermajority for tax cuts in the legislature"

You can just see the counter-storm clouds forming . . .

THAT SAID Check out the Blue Oregon post linked above, and read through the comments. you will be find a slew of fascinating ideas and useful policy discussion. Useful ballot issues could easily come out of this kind of back-and-forth.

Risch’s entry

Jim Risch

Jim Risch

Talk many years ago about Jim Risch, a couple of decades or so back when the subject came up about what the then-state senator might one day run for, didn't center on governor. The word was that the job he'd really be interested in above other things was a seat in the U.S. Senate.

He may become one of the few Idahoans ever to do both. With his announcement today for the Senate, Risch becomes the presumptive Republican nominee and the immediate frontrunner for the job.

Idaho politics having recently gone through such a, ah, peculiar time this last month and a half, it's worth stepping back and taking stock here of what's not been upended (yet, at least) as well as what has.

The path to Risch's announcement was most immediately cleared by Senator Larry Craig's announcement, alongside his declaration of sticking in the Senate, that he would not run for re-election in 2008. Risch months ago had said he likely would run for the seat if Craig didn't, so his announcement is in line with that. But it also had two other effects, which he must realize. The state Republican establishment must realize it too, which helps explain the high-level on-site support Risch got today (from Senator Mike Crapo, former Governor Phil Batt and even the theoretically impartial state GOP Chair Kirk Sullivan). One is that it puts a big obstacle in the way of any decision-changing by Craig on the subject of running again. The other is that it may foreclose candidacies from other major figures in the party - the establishment has closed ranks and made its decision, and it will be hard to buck.

There'll probably be something in the way of small-scale candidacies, like that of elk farm owner Rex Rammell (who has indicated some delight at the idea of running against Risch). But we're guessing there won't be one; Sullivan's support for Risch seems a real indicator. Absent a major figure such as Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, the nomination likely will go to Risch without much difficulty.