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Posts published in February 2008

ID 1: Lewis out

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.

A different kind of Port Townsend

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? (more…)

Markets for winners

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.

When historic isn’t

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."

An Andrus blast

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.”

OR 5: The Republican sift

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. (more…)

The March hearings

Cascade Locks report

Cascade Locks report

On seeing the schedule for hearings on the proposed new casino at Cascade Locks, the first sensible question is: Will they matter? After all, the decider on this thing - Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne - seems pretty well positioned against allowing tribal casinos off reservation land (though some recent article indicate some jar in the door).

Worth considering, though, for at least two reasons.

One is the just-released draft environmental impact statement, prepared for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which seemed to take a mostly positive view of the casino plan. That logically should have some effect on decision-making higher up. (Snark on this already anticipated and borne in mind.)

The other is a simple reality: A year from now the strong odds are there will be a new Interior secretary. What he or she might do about the casino proposal isn't, of course, known. Might be a reasonable question (in the context of Indian gaming more generally) for the presidential candidates.

Institutionalized gentrification

As amusing as may be the idea of a war between Jack Bogdanski (of Jack Bog's Blog) and the Portland Mercury's Blogtown may be, the really striking thing in this post was the idea of a blog devoted to the subject of gentrification in Portland.

Turns out, in fact, that Portland Gentrification and Other Problems is well worth the props - some good, sound material here. Sample post heads: "Go East, Young Diversity Statistic"; "Yes I'm A Crackpot - Show'n'tell from the Archives"; "The Flipping Scene 2008; and, Jackpot Gets Bumped."

Joins our blogroll.

LNG getting toward explosive

We'll be back with more on this before long, but for now attention should be paid to the protesters - increasingly loud and angry - of plans to run liquid natural gas lines through Oregon. This is a rising movement, and it has the feel of something just this side of a serious growth curve.

Lead from today's Astoria story on this: "Opponents of a liquefied natural gas terminal near Astoria complained at a public hearing about the number of state and federal agencies involved in the project, saying none has responsibility for a complete project review." Hint, hint.

Yellow, not black and white

Athoughtful read in today's Nicole Brodeur column in the Seattle Times, on the idea - mulled around by Washington legislators - to allow judges to order a special, bright yellow, license plate be affixed to the cars driven by DUI convicts.

Sounds on its face like a reasonable idea, at least in some cases. And after reading the column, it still sounds good - on balance. But even such a simple idea has its nuances. The column is a good runthrough on why public policy so often isn't quite as clearcut as it initially appears.

Northern adjudication forges on

They probably did the right thing, but even though the policy is clearly right - water rights in the Idaho Panhandle ought to be adjudicated - the execution is likely to be a problem. Usually is when you've got large-scale revolt on your hands, as seems to be happening.

As Idaho moves toward conclusion of the massive Snake River Basin Adjudication - which ought to be called one of the most successful water law actions this country has ever had - the state has started toward a legal adjudication of water in the northern part of the state, the main region untouched by the SRBA. But fears have been stirred, along with regional resentments, and in recent months county officials have pressed for reversal of the law setting up the North Idaho Adjudication, which has been scheduled to get underway . . . oh, around now. The reaction has been strong enough to get regional legislators to call for a slowdown, and the state water resources department to put on the brakes.

And that has looked like the direction of things, except that today the Senate Resources & Environment Committee has decided otherwise - to proceed with the adjudications (apart from one small basin at the far northern tip of the state).

The key lever: Water users in Washington state taking legal action to protect as much of their water rights as possible. Senator Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls: "The problem is that the Washington people are already looking at that as their aquifer. And, in fact, they got a little panicky when we started on this adjudication path and began their own adjudication path to protect themselves as they search for the same water that we have."

Hammond's point was sound, and evidently enough to convince quite a few legislators. Will it be enough to defuse a rebellion, one that could turn political this year?


Those who have heard the radio shows of Lars Larson (solidly to the right) and Thom Hartmann (equally so to the left) may get the stunned reaction of Lynn at Oregon Media Insiders to this bit of news. From a post we just caught:

Remember Shawn Taylor, Lars Larson's longtime producer who got fired the Friday before Christmas? Someone reported in that thread that she got hired on to be EP of Thom Hartmann's nationwide Air America show. I pinged Shawn and she said that it is indeed true.
And I have to say: That is the most hilarious thing I've heard this week.