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Posts published in “Day: December 11, 2007”

On the Merkley side

Jeff Merkley

Jeff Merkley

Speaking generally, endorsements in political campaigns don't count for a lot; they matter more in what you might call the odd case, than in the general run. A major official of the other party endorses you, yeah, that's a substantial deal.

And in a primary, if a very large and crucial organization that works with your party take sides before the nomination, that can be important. And the Oregon AFL-CIO definitely qualifies as a big deal in Oregon Democratic primaries, which is why its endorsement today of House Speaker Jeff Merkley, in his primary contest with Steve Novick for the U.S. Senate nomination, carries some real weight.

The Oregon AFL-CIO has 145,000 members, and it's an active organization. In 2004, the Democratic primary in the state drew (depending on the race) between about 300,000 and 380,000 votes; so the union's votes together with its ground army could matter a great deal. So will the money it raises. The group also noted, "Our endorsement process is stringent and democratic: Candidates must earn the vote of more than two-thirds of our member representatives. Our members’ votes in favor of Jeff Merkley’s endorsement exceeded this threshold."

They also pointed out that they did a comparable endorsement two years ago in the heated primary Governor Ted Kulongoski was caught in; the governor wound up winning it decisively.

Novick is running an energetic and issues-strong campaign, and his press release today on the Superfund and polluter obligations (or what should be obligations) is a good read. But he's running into danger of becoming outgunned.

Another Texas incident

Latest in the sequence of events at a Texas private prison, where Idaho has chosen to house a number of its inmates. From a state Department of Corrections release:

The Idaho Department of Correction has dispatched a deputy warden to Bill Clayton Detention Center (BCDC) in Littlefield, Texas to investigate an incident involving Idaho inmates.

The company that operates the prison, GEO Group, Inc., says at about 7:30 PM Monday a BCDC lieutenant was assaulted by two Idaho inmates. After the lieutenant was assaulted, about 10 to 15 other Idaho offenders refused to return to their cells. They complied when BCDC’s response team arrived on the scene.

The Littlefield Police Department is investigating the incident, and the inmates involved in the assault may face new criminal charges. Other inmates who refused to comply with staff orders will likely face disciplinary sanctions.

373 Idaho inmates are incarcerated at BCDC.

Sounds as though there's a long, ugly story back of this one. Probably a story not everyone in Idaho will want to hear.

Public radio per capita

How it is that Eugene is unable to support one left-of-center AM talk radio but prospectively could support three public radio stations, is a little unclear. And yet those points are related.

KOPT AM 1600 in Eugene has been an Air America station, though apparently not for much longer. It has been bought by Oregon Public Broadcasting (an unusual move - how many public broadcasting purchases of commercial stations can you think of?). OPB, which has in some ways been scaling back some of its public affairs activities (Oregon Edition is no more), bought it to bring a National Public Radio schedule, and related programming, to Eugene.

Okay. Although, KLCC FM 89.7, a public radio station which is licensed to Eugene's Lane Community College but is not part of the OPB system, already broadcasts public radio programs. KLCC is not a tiny player, either; its web site says its 81,000 watts make it "the most powerful public radio signal in Oregon." It is also a charter member of National Public Radio.

If you get the feeling there's a good deal underlying all this, you're probably right. We're wondering, too. There's a useful discussion of it all underway at Oregon Media Insiders.