Archive for February, 2008

Feb 23 2008

OR 24: Worth watching, again

Published by under Oregon

Al Hanson

Al Hanson

In mid-2006 we suggested some attention be paid to Oregon House District 24, a Republican-leaning area where the seat was held by apparently entrenched Republican Donna Nelson. Turned out she wasn’t quite so entrenched: In November she won, but only barely, her usual margin trimmed to a sliver.

Next cycle on, we’ll suggest again that attention be paid to this district: It looks to be up for grabs, though for reasons somewhat different. This time, Nelson apparently is not running for re-election. (She’s been less that completely conclusive on that, but her own caucus is presuming she’s out.) Instead, two little-known candidates have emerged on the Republican side: Ed Glad, a carpenter who has done some statehouse lobbying, and Jim Weidner, a restauranteur and software developer. Both come from the small community of Yamhill; neither is a local household name. Since their announcements of plan to run, neither has been especially visible. But either, presumably, would have a significant boost from their party’s nomination, since this central Yamhill County district is more Republican than Democratic.

However, the just-announced Democratic candidate could have the assets to counter that. He is Al Hanson, an attorney and an eight-year member of the city council at McMinnville, which is the district’s population center; people in about half of the district, in other words, have been voting for him. He also has a long list of civic activities, and in this tightly-connected community Hanson has the local establishment (including at least some of the local Republican business establishment) behind him. Continue Reading »

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Feb 23 2008

A run that wasn’t dry

Published by under Oregon

Oregon statehouse Reading yesterday a few hours before the Oregon Legislature adjourned – late on Friday night – about what the session did and didn’t accomplish, a blunt assessment jumped out: “As the February session winds down, there is an emerging consensus that a month-long supplemental session doesn’t work.”

That showed up at the Conkling Fiskum & McCormick Insider blog, and carried the weight of opinions from some skeptical legislators about their experimental session. The second paragraph added, “To the relief of Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and others who championed the experiment with annual sessions, the February session hasn’t been a disaster. But virtually no one thinks it has been very productive, either.”

Hmm. That would depend on your perspective, and if the perspective lies in comparing a session that ran 19 days – just two-thirds of the shortest month in the year – with the traditional half-year model, then no, it wasn’t very productive. But that’s not much of a comparison.

The suggestion in the Insider piece, and in blogging by the Oregonian‘s Jeff Mapes, is not so much that the annual session idea is bad but that the experimental session may have been too short. There’s something to that. Washington state has a regular truncated election-year session but gives it about two months to do its work, and a tight series of deadlines are imposed through the process to help guide lawmakers to getting things done. Part of the problem with the one-month – pardons, three-week – Oregon session is that the time frame wasn’t institutionalized, so lawmakers and others probably weren’t well set up to handle the specific requirements of it. But two months, or maybe three, might be a better option. Mapes reports that he’s heard just this sort of things from legislators and others: “But I have been struck by how out-of-sorts many legislators and lobbyists feel. They’re used to certain rhythms and it’s hard for them to figure out something that is neither fish nor fowl. This is not a one- or two-day special session with a rigid agenda, nor is it a wide-open regular session where you have months to develop ideas.”

So some tinkering probably would be helpful. But before calling the experimental session a failure, it might be helpful to look at what Oregonians did get out of it. Continue Reading »

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Feb 22 2008

Annexing the problematic

Published by under Oregon

Drive in Eugene from the University of Oregon area directly east over the Willamette River and you’ll soon land in the city of Springfield. But before you get there you will have passed over, and probably not even noticed, another community, called Glenwood.

Not often would a local daily newspaper call one of its home communities “problematic,” but the Eugene Register-Guard is using the word to describe the unincorporated Glenwood area, and it makes some of the case for the city of Springfield’s plan to annex the area. There are a number of reasons, but one of them is visible for those who take the look: A growing homeless community along the riverfront.

Just down the hill from the popular panhandling spot sit about 10 more men, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and drinking beer at the base of the north bridge.

These are the men who pester passers-by for money. Who sometimes fight and go to jail after downing one too many underneath the bridge. And who have long posed a dilemma to local officials stymied over how to deal with the Eugene-Springfield area’s most visible homeless camp.

Springfield officials responsible for planning Glenwood’s future say the situation has dragged on long enough. Following years of watching county and state agencies struggle to keep the bridge area safe and clean, the city is now ready to take the lead.

That isn’t a fair description of all or most of Glenwood. Some of it is a long-running, traditional blue collar community with real traditions of its own. But as the article suggests, it may need some help.

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Feb 22 2008

Abrupt shift

Published by under Oregon

The argument that Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith changes his voting pattern as re-election time approaches will find some support in a new round of online stats released by the League of Conservation Voters, which charts congressional environmental voting.

In the first two years of his current term, Smith pulled a 28% grade from the LCV, and 37% in the next two. For environmental votes last year, that jumped through the roof to 73%.

That wasn’t because of the issues on the table or ome other fluky factor. Oregon’s other senator, Democrat Ron Wyden, actually scored lower last year (87%) than in the four years previous, though his ratings throughout were quite close. Idaho’s two Republican senators (who scored low in in the LCV ratings) and Washington’s two Democrats (who scored high) all, like Wyden, stayed fairly consistent throughout that period in their ratings.

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Feb 21 2008

Tamarack, the layout

Published by under Idaho

If the news stories you’ve seen so far about the bankruptcy filing by the owners of the Tamarack Resort near Donnelly have seemed a little . . . vague, you’re not alone. But if the subject is of interest and you want at least a framework for thinking about, help is available.

The Boise Guardian web site asked for some perspective from a bankruptcy attorney, Randy French, and wound up with a solid overview. You won’t find definitive answers about what the filing means, but that’s largely because too many pieces of the puzzle are not visible. But French does provide the legal and business framework that’ll help you make sense of whatever does come next.

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Feb 21 2008

The Mannix rationale

Published by under Oregon

Kevin Mannix

Kevin Mannix

Sounding definitive, Jason Williams reports on Oregon Catalyst that former legislator and multi-office candidate Kevin Mannix will go after the Republican nomination for the U.S. House, for the seat being vacated by Democrat Darlene Hooley. The probability has been noted before; this suggests an announcement is imminent. Which would make sense, since the field is yet to fully emerge, and early announcements can sometimes cut off opposition before it develops.

We were more struck, though, by the strategic rationale behind the candidacy: “This has been the result of a long career of activities as a lawmaker, state party chair, statewide candidate for various offices, and promoting many ballot measures for nearly 20 years. It has been speculated that Hooley’s surprise late announcement would handicap a Republican challenger. Mannix’s early name ID and ability to fundraise negates this handicap.”

Of course, this being a federal race, the looser Oregon state campaign finance rules aren’t applicable, which may mean Mannix’ past fundraising approaches may need some adjustment.

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Feb 20 2008

Liking Ike

Published by under Idaho

With the recent mass rally for Barack Obama still in Boiseans’ minds, the archives at Boise State University tracked down some pertinent exhibits and has now placed them on line: Photos of the one political rally in Idaho history even larger than Obama’s. Timely stuff.

The circumstances are worth recollection. That was an outdoor rally at the Idaho Statehouse, for the Republican presidential nominee, Dwight Eisenhower. Ike was drawn in part because Idaho’s governor then, Republican Len Jordan, was one of his most vocal backers among upper-level elected officials. Also, maybe, the fact that Idaho then was a state up for grabs in presidential politics. Idaho had voted solidly for Franklin Roosevelt and also for Democrat Harry Truman in 1948, but it had veered strongly Republican in the 1950 elections. A substantial visit was more than a ceremonial visit.

Eisenhower’s win in 1952 in Idaho (as well as nationally) started a Gem State trend, lasting to this day. With the sole exception of 1964, when Lyndon Johnson barely squeaked past Republican Barry Goldwater, Idaho has voted Republican for president ever since.

Could it be that another rally comparable in size launches . . . nah . . .

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Feb 20 2008

WA: The Obama/Clinton split

Published by under Washington

The vote count in Washington is still a long way from finished, so some of the county notions on the map below cold jump back and forth. But the questions are likely to remain.

Remember that Washington voters, some of them anyway, got the chance to vote twice for president in their nomination process – caucuses a week and a half ago, and primary on Tuesday. The rules were different, though, for each party. For Republicans, both contests counted, since delegates would be selected based partly on the caucuses and partly on the primary. For the Democrats, the primary had no practical effect – all delegates were assigned based on the caucus.

Still, in each case, we had two bites of the apple, and for both parties the bites looked different. Continue Reading »

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Feb 19 2008

A little bit more, a little bit less

Published by under Washington

So what’s the matter with King County election reporting this time? As of this writing – about 10 p.m. – returns in Washington’s largest county have been stuck at a little over two percent of precincts reporting. Slow, slow . . .

The statewide core story, nonetheless, seems to be clear enough. Among Republicans, Arizona senator John McCain is getting the strong, decisive him he doubtless hoped for in the caucuses, when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee held him to a near draw. That matters, since about half of the Washington national convention delegates get picked on the basis of this primary. And among Democrats, Illinois Senator Barack Obama was defeating New York Senator Hillary Clinton, though by a much slimmer margin that he did in the caucuses. Unfortunately for Clinton, only the caucuses matter in the Democratic contest.

There look to be some highly interesting variations in the county breakdowns. Which we’ll post on soon, King County returns willing.

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Feb 19 2008

ID 1: Lewis out

Published by under Idaho

Rand Lewis

Rand Lewis

The Democratic race for Idaho’s 1st House seat has simplified, with the withdrawal of Rand Lewis and his endorsement of fellow candidate Larry Grant.

Lewis had some assets as a candidate, and we didn’t dismiss the possibility he might win the primary, campaigns depending. How much his endorsement of Grant, who ran in 2006 and lost to Republican Bill Sali, is less clear.

The third – now second – candidate in the race, Walt Minnick, has gotten off to a strong and energetic start, well funded and strongly organized.

Grant will draw on residual loyalty from last time, and the real campaign skills he did demonstrate. Minnick will have a good deal of party organization support and plenty of cash – more, now, than Sali. This contest will develop a sharp edge over the next few months.

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Feb 19 2008

A different kind of Port Townsend

Published by under Washington

Port Townsend

Port Tonsend city logo

We first visited Port Townsend about four years ago, and on riding up from the south it first had the appearance of a working port town, with an industrial sector and even substantial boat storage and repair businesses. Then proceeded north, into the heart of town, and saw something else.

There we saw what friends had touted for some time, one of the best small0city tourist destinations in the Northwest. Port Townsend once had ambitions to be a large city indeed – it once put in a serious bid for Washington’s state capitol – and you can see that in the downtown business district, where you find one of the best collections of grand old buildings in any city (even many much larger) in the region. Not to mention the restaurants, bed and breakfasts, galleries and other artsy places you’d expect. It’s not all regentrified yet, but the developers there are on their way.

Politically, you can see in the combination of industrial and resort/tourist the kind of voting base that gives Democrats a strong edge, and they do; this is one of Washington’s most Democratic smaller cities.

So what happens now, socially and politically, as that tourist and resort side increasingly looks askance at the industrial/port side of town, the side that was Port Townsend’s reason for existence through most of its history? Continue Reading »

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Feb 19 2008

Markets for winners

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

Maybe the Northwest political blog news today out of Rasmussen Reports will emerge from its new poll of the Oregon Senate race, in which Republican incumbent Gordon Smith takes 48% of the vote against either of the two Democrats, Jeff Merkley (who gets 30%) and Steve Novick (35%). And maybe that’s worthy of note, largely as an indicator of ongoing softness in Smith support.

And, as in a good many other states, Democrat Barack Obama would be projected to defeat Republican John McCain in Oregon, but McCain would be projected to beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But we spent more time with Rasmussen’s markets, a sort of futures market – guesses on who will win. A number of national political markets have sprung up in recent years, with focus on the presidential level. Rasmussen’s are more numerous and detailed. In addition to markets for how each state will vote in the November presidential (the ongoing primary and caucus states too well of course), there are also markets for U.S. Senate and governor races around the country. You can read the “buy contract” numbers almost, loosely, like percentages, since they add up to around 100, not as percentages of votes, but in terms of probability of a win.

In the Oregon Senate race, for example, the bid is 75 if you want to buy a contract on the proposition that the Republican nominee will win the general election, and 24 if you think the winner will be a Democrat. You can read it as what those (anonymous) participants thought were the odds of a victory by each side.

In the Idaho Senate race, the Republican contract is bid at 87.1, and the Democratic at 13.1.

For governor of Washington, the bidding is a little closer: 62.2 for the Democrat, 20 for the Republican.

For the general election for president? In Idaho, it’s Republican 90 to Democrat 2.5; Oregon Democrat 80 and no current Republican bid; Washington Democrat 80 and Republican 10.

Nothing definitive or scientific here, but something worth tracking current and often-changing lines of thought.

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Feb 18 2008

When historic isn’t

Published by under Washington

Afine post in the Slog (of the Seattle Stranger) about the historic area at Columbia City, and the perversity of applying rigid standards in the face of contrary facts.

The site may be historic, but what’s being preserved from development – in the present case – is a very ordinary small strip center; the proposed new development would have a shot at a genuine improvement for the neighborhood. From the Slog:

“While I’m sympathetic to concerns about preserving the historic district (as my coworkers know, I even think they should preserve the Ballard Denny’s), that isn’t what’s at stake here. What is at stake is an ugly plastics warehouse and an uglier parking lot that fronts on a small mall selling hip-hop clothes and cigarettes—both of which are available at many other places in the neighborhood. Both sites are underutilized (Columbia Plaza turns its back on a park that’s a crime hot spot for the area) and would benefit tremendously from new housing. What’s more, the teams associated with both the projects have a history of making developments fit in with the neighborhoods where they’re located.”

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Feb 18 2008

An Andrus blast

Published by under Idaho

Been a while since we’ve seen Cecil Andrus, the former four-term Idaho governor, stride very deeply into highly visible partisan politics. But today, he jumped up on the national stage, letting loose a strong blast at the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Andrus has never been a stong Clinton supporter, so his decision last month to announce for Illinois Senator Barack Obama was no shock. But you get the sense that he’s genuinely ticked at one of the latest argument lines out of the Clinton campaign, that many of the red states (like Idaho mostly won by Obama) are somehow less important than larger blue states. From an Obama campaign email:

Today, former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus called on the Clinton campaign to apologize for remarks made by Joel Ferguson, the Co-Chairman of the Clinton Campaign in Michigan for calling delegates in red states “second-class.” Ferguson said, “Superdelegates are not second-class delegates. The real second-class delegates are the delegates that are picked in red-state caucuses that are never going to vote Democratic.”

This is the latest in a string of attempts by the Clinton campaign to discount the votes of Democrats in the red states. In an effort to spin their losses, the Clinton campaign has repeatedly criticized Senator Obama’s wins in red states.
Governor Andrus said, “Today, a Clinton campaign surrogate took it to another level and said flat out the Democrats in Red States are second-class citizens. This is a step too far. Senator Clinton’s surrogates are telling Democrats in almost half the states in the country that they don’t matter, and that they are second class. Senator Clinton needs to immediately denounce these comments and tell her campaign surrogates to stop taking cheap pot-shots at committed Democrats across the country.”

Andrus added, “We have a senate race and a congressional race that we are going to win. I have been elected four times so don’t tell me a Democrat can’t win. If we tell people that their votes don’t matter, of course they aren’t going to consider voting for Democrats in the general election. This attitude doesn’t just hurt us in the Presidential campaign, but it also hurts down-ballot candidates and our efforts to build the party. We can’t have another polarizing election that starts with a candidate If you tell telling people living in smaller states that their voices don’t matter. Obama has been successful in earning support from voters of all races, genders, in red states and blue states. We need to continue those efforts and not stifle them before the election even begins.”

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Feb 17 2008

OR 5: The Republican sift

Published by under Oregon

Kevin Mannix

Kevin Mannix

Brian Boquist

Brian Boquist

Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson

Vicki Berger

Vicki Berger

There’s excitement among quite a few Oregon Republicans, something few probably were expecting at this point in what mostly looks like a dismal GOP season west of the Cascades. Partly connected with that, there’s some push and some excitement among a number of visible Republicans, at this point anyway, for one particular prospect for the newly-opened U.S. House seat, a man who has lost four statewide races in a row without ever winning an election above the state legislative level, and then mostly as a Democrat.

That would be Salem attorney Kevin Mannix, who after his last loss – for governor in 2006, coming in second in the Republican primary – seemed to be out of major office politics. But more interest seems to be centering around him than the two other most likely prospects (with the distinct possibility of more to come). Those other two are former and unsuccessful candidates for the 5th district seat: Mike Erickson, who ran against retiring Democratic Representative Darlene Hooley in 2006, and Brian Boquist, who ran in 2000 and 2002. A fourth prospect is state Representative Vicki Berger. That all of these would be (for different reasons) serious, substantial candidates says something about the residual Republican strength in the 5th.

Which of them might be strongest in the general election is an imponderable for the moment, since we have no clear idea who the Democratic nominee – or even the Democratic contestants – may be. (Could include one of the Schraders, or maybe Labor Commissioner Dan Gardner, or any of a half-dozen other prospects. We don’t know yet.) But, albeit as a preliminary thing, we can start thinking about how these Republicans may fare facing off against each other. Continue Reading »

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JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
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The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
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Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
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Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.


 

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