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Posts published in “Day: March 4, 2008”

Noting the hired help

Steve Marks

Steve Marks

The second Democrat into the 5th District House race, Steve Marks, has a plenty interesting background, but what jumped out at us was a name from his list of advisors.

Marks, best known around Oregon as a chief of staff for former Governor John Kitzhaber, goes up against state Senator Kurt Schrader, who jumped in last week. (And one of them presumably will be up against either Mike Erickson or Kevin Mannix, who each seem to be after the Republican nomination; at present, they look to be the two most likely major contenders.) Schrader has a strong reputation as a legislator, and he's a proven candidate, winning strongly in what had been considered Republican turf.

Marks may be able to pull in some of that Kitzhaber magic. But we also took note of this paragraph in his announcement statement: "Overseeing the Marks' campaign is Joe Trippi who is heralded as the man who 'reinvented campaigning' by The New Republic. Most recently, Trippi worked with the John Edwards campaign. He earned a national reputation for his work on Howard Dean's presidential campaign for his internet campaign inventions. Trippi knows the 5th Congressional District well, Marks noted, from Trippi's previous work on behalf of Congresswoman Darlene Hooley."

High-powered help with relevant Oregon background. We'll be watching.

Westlund and the Republicans

Ben Westlund

Ben Westlund

When Oregon state Senator Ben Westlund completed his journey from Republican (which he was when last elected to the legislature, in 2004) to Independent and then to Democrat, Senate Republican leader Ted Ferrioli had a witty riposte: "I can only wish him all the best success and hope that he is able to do for the Democrats what he has done for Republicans."

Wrapped inside that was the recognition that Westlund had turned on his own, and the followup implication that this would not go without response, of the serious campaign kind. Of all the Democrats running for major office in Oregon this year, Westlund should logically be the target of the fiercest Republican opposition.

Yet Westlund, who formally filed for state treasurer last November 9, and publicly announced his candidacy more than a month before that, still hasn't drawn a filed Republican opponent. He still may, of course, and probably will, since the candidate filing deadline is yet a week off. But the absence of Republican response so far is striking.

And so was this: A substantial batch of Republicans who have endorsed him.

When you see a "Republicans for" or a "Democrats for" list of cross-party endorsees, they're usually lower-level and no longer active, and often philosophically close to the other party anyway. This list is a little different. It actually includes incumbent Republican office holders: Senator Gary George (Newberg) and Representatives Patti Smith (Corbett), Bill Garrard (Klamath) and Bob Jenson (Pendleton). (George is especially striking; by about any measure he's among the most conservative of senators.) And there are recent former former Representatives Alan Brown (Newport), Rob Patridge (Medford) and Lane Shetterly (Dallas) and former Senator Len Hannon (Ashland). Three other figures move a little further into the past, but are major names: former Secretary of State Norma Paulus and two former House Speakers, Lynn Lundquist and Mark Simmons.

So far, the Democrats don't have a lot of cause for dissatisfaction.

OPPOSITION? At his blog, the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes is reporting that Allen Alley, a Republican who has been deputy chief of staff to Governor Ted Kulongoski (who has endorsed Westlund), may enter the race for treasurer. No final word on that yet, though.

Alley would have substantial self-funds from his business (he was a founder of Pixelworks) but he has never run for office.

Education out of towners

Correspondent Laurie Boeckel, who intensively follows Idaho education matters, had a suggestion following up our recent post about out of state organizations which have a lobbying presence in Boise: How about those from out of state that have an interest in Idaho education?

There are several, and worth noting. Here's some of what she pointed to, and some of our notes:

bullet Data Recognition Corporation (Maple Grove, Minnesota). It remarks, "We customize state testing programs to meet your requirements and exceed your expectations. DRC currently partners with state departments of education across the country to develop and administer full-service large-scale student educational assessment programs." This is the firm that underlay some of the big headlines connected with state Board of Education budgeting problems and overspending; it had a $22 million contract with the board for managing the Idaho Standards Achievement Test. In January the board voted 5-2 to amend the contract, canceling testing in the second and ninth grades. Talking with legislative budgeters about the testing situation, Board President said that "Somewhere within the (contract) response, those things were overlooked." Lobbyists: Lyn Darrington, McKinsey Miller.

bullet K 12 Corporation (Herndon, Virginia). You hear a good deal in the headlines about the Idaho Virtual Academy, an on-line school which has considerable support among top Idaho elected officials. The company that provides the curriculum, that is essentially the key plyer at the IDVA, is K 12. Lobbyist: Suzanne Budge.

bullet Connections Academy, LLC (Baltimore, Maryland). Another cyber-school, with programs in Idaho. Lobbyist: Jeremy Pisca.

bullet University of Phoenix (Phoenix, Arizona). A note here: The University of Phoenix home base is listed in lobbyist reports as Meridian, Idaho, where it does have operations, but the organization is based in Arizona. (Idaho is one of 39 states with UP locations.) It is owned by the Apollo Group, which has its own fascinating history. Lobbyist: Jeremy Pisca.