Writings and observations

There was this tag for a Betsy Russell compendium about the doings of the Idaho House, all of which happens to be good reading. But really, what more do you need than this tag on her blog?

Here’s a link to my full story on today’s Rev & Tax hearing and passage of the new grocery tax relief bill, in which Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, says, “If we go ahead with this bill, it would be like throwing a pound of hamburger to a junkyard dog to get him off your tail.” And you can click below to read a pair of stories from the AP’s John Miller today, one on how the House Health & Welfare Committee cut short a debate on an abortion bill so GOP members could catch a private plane to a partisan rally, and another on how 10 Republican lawmakers flew across the state for that party event on private planes owned by Frank VanderSloot and one of his closest associates, at a time when the Legislature is considering a bill VanderSloot is pushing regarding employee non-compete agreements. Hours after they returned on the planes, three of the lawmakers voted in favor of the bill.

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Idaho

Our sense of the Portland mayoral race, up to this point, has been that probably it wasn’t going to be much of a race . . . only to be gradually shaken from that complacency. Maybe a little like four years ago.

Back then, when the seat was also open due to the retire of an incumbent (then Vera Katz, now Tom Potter)there was a guy named Jim Francesconi, who was a member of the city council, well-known and mostly well regarded in town. He amassed loads of prominent endorsees and a huge campaign budget, and he was better known than any of the 20-plus other contenders. Looked like a slam dunk. Except that it didn’t turn out that way. The mega-campaign actuallybackfired, and a likable challenger, the former police chief Potter, came within shooting distance in the primary and beat Francesconi decisively in the general.

This cycle, no sooner had Potter opted out – literally no sooner than – City Councilman Sam Adams roared in as something approaching mayor-in-waiting. His odds have looked awfully good. He is a finely-skilled candidate, a good organizer and doubtless has plenty of bucks in the bank. So we’ve been wondering about how much attention sh0uld be paid (regular, even heavy-duty, coverage in the Willamette Week and Mercury notwithstanding) to the seeming insurgent candidacy of businessman Sho Donozo. (Some of that has been negative in tone, concerning questions – now apparently resolved – about Donozo’s campaign finances.)

Unless, of course, you bear in mind Portland political history. And the endorsement out today from Mayor Potter.

Not that the endorsement itself is a major electoral lever; hardly any endorsements for any office really are. But it does seem an indicator that Donozo is punching some significant buttons and it could be an indicator that anyone in the city displeased with something in the record of Council member Adams might now have a designated opponent to support. Or at least the potential is there for a replay of four years ago.

Of the race between Potter and, uh . . .

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Oregon

If you’re into tracking the candidate filings in Idaho – if you’re reading this, there’s a fair chance you are – you can see regularly updated filings from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office posted online.

The two most interesting times during filing, which started today and ends on the 21st, usually are around the beginning and end. A sizable chunk of the known quantities – those who of course were going to run for something – often show up in the first few days, partly so as to send the word to other prospects that no, this seat isn’t open. (A large bunch of legislative incumbents already have filed – they make up most of the early filers.) The other interesting stretch comes near the end, when the seats get filled and last-minute decisions are revealed. The final afternoon can be the most interesting piece of all.

The most interesting note in early filings was the appearance of a Supreme Court contest, in which Lewiston attorney John Bradbury is filing against newly-appointed Justice Joel Horton. This may have a different dynamic than most recent Supreme Court contests.

Back with more, as it develops.

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Idaho

We’re always interested in those lesser-known names creating and pushing things that become important and sometimes even visible. The Seattle Times has a good piece today on one such – Gordon Bowker.

No, we’d not heard of him. But he’s been around some interesting places in Seattle. The Times: “After co-founding Starbucks, he co-launched Redhook Ale Brewery and pushed David Brewster to start Seattle Weekly — investing in and freelancing for the tab. He served on the board of Childhaven, a nonprofit that cares for neglected and abused children, and renamed it.”

He’s been a quiet guy, and from the sounds of it the Times had to work for a while to persuade him to a sitdown. The resulting story may persuade you it was a good idea.

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Washington

Following up on an earlier map at the Spokesman-Review‘s web site – matching Obama and Clinton votes – there’s a new one, matching up ballots cast for Republicans and Democrats.

It shows what you might suspect it shows. But it’s well worth a look anyway.

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Washington

Those tsunami warning and tsunami route signs around the northern Oregon coast may need some readjustment, if today’s news on new state geology estimates are anywhere near correct.

For example, in today’s Oregonian story: “Cannon Beach built its new fire station in 1996 high enough to be outside the reach of a tsunami, based on inundation maps drawn up under a 1995 state law. But the new projections show that larger tsunamis driven by a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake would flood the fire station.”

Not good news. Possibly better, though, than later still.

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Falling into the category of speculation and rumor, to be sure, but nonetheless a fund read for the political junkies among us.

The core of it, via McCranium in the Tri-Cities, is what may happen when Republican Representative Shirley Hankins run again this year – or doesn’t, as the case may be. The Tri-Cities doesn’t often see a lot of highly watchable politics, but this post gives a suggestion of where some could, just maybe, develop.

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Washington

Kevin Mannix

Kevin Mannix

Seemed here, too, that Kevin Mannix is more a state-race kind of guy than a congressional race kind of guy. Yes, the geography of Oregon House District 5 is fairly well suited to him. But there’s also the matter his history with campaigns and campaign finance, and federal campaigns work differently than they do on the state level.

So that’s by way of suggesting a look at the Blue Oregon piece on Mannix’ entry in the Republican primary, in which he faces off against 2006 contender Mike Erickson. In all, the Oregon 5th looks like an exciting ride.

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Oregon

Filing time – which starts on Monday – at Ada County is abruptly looking more interesting.

The most thorough rundown seems to be in the last couple of posts from Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman – on legislative announcements generally and David Langhorst‘s run for county office – and we’ll refer you there for a fuller cheat sheet. Here, just a couple of thoughts.

When Langhorst, now the Democratic senator from District 16 (NW Boise, Garden City, nearby), first ran for the job, he was a decided underdog in a district that had been steadily going Republican for state Senate for quite a while. He’s turned that seat into safe, for himself at least, and the district now elects three Democrats – it was majority Republican pre-Langhorst. There have been changes in the district since he first won, but some of it probably had to do with his personal attibutes. 16 will be going through a transition this year, and it’ll be worth watching to see if the Democrats are able to hold it or if Republicans succeed in what we assume will be a serious pushback.

He will be running for the Ada County Commission, currently 2-1 Republican. Reichert accurately charts the difficulty via historic record: “However, the odds don’t favor a Democrat winning a countywide election. Paul Woods won a commissioner’s race in 2006 – but with 43 percent backing in a narrow three-way race. A decade earlier, Frank Walker squeaked out a victory over lightning-rod GOP incumbent Gary Glenn. More than 113,000 residents voted in the race; Walker prevailed by 77 votes.” Boise city (where 16 mostly is) is now majority Democratic, but there’s scant evidence Ada County as a whole is.

Langhorst has a high ambition here. If he wins, he will be a game-changer, throwing Ada County into an overall much more c0mpetitive category. Not only that: If the county is perceived generally as competitive, that could make some of the so-far colidly Republican seats in the western county more competitive over time. Langhorst’s will be a race to watch seriously.

The other item of interest is the seeming shift in the contest for the House seat now held by Republican Mike Moyle, identified as a leader of the anti-tax rural Republicans. There had been a lot of talk that former Eagle Mayor Nancy Merrill might take him on. That possibility seemingly remains, but now an alternative scenario is developing – that Chuck Winder, who has run for governor and mayor of Boise, might take on Moyle instead, with Merrill trying for the other House seat. That could be an equally interesting race, with a battle for the soul of the southwest Idaho Republican Party at stake.

And some other interesting tidbits. Fun times, these filing weeks.

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Idaho

It was a difference of opinion – literally that, on the subject of abortion – between Washington state Representative John Ahern, R-Spokane, and a group of teenagers who (while on January 21 lobbying on behalf of Planned Parenthood) held a contrary view. Both sides got to express themselves, stoutly.

It led to a complaint filed with the Legislative Ethics Board, filed by parents of some of the students. They said Ahern “verbally abused” the students by “by berating them with the question, ‘How many unborn babies did you guys kill last year?'”

One of the parents added, “It was just above and beyond anything a child should have to go through when they visit a state legislator.” (Ahern has noted that this incident could be a factor in his campaign for re-election this year.)

The problem is that “visiting” wasn’t all they were doing – they were trying to engage Ahern in debate. Whatever you think of Ahern’s specific point, it was certainly pertinent to the argument.

Arguments do, after all, from time to time, get testy, notably in the real world of legislating.

The Ethics Board dismissed the complaint, for the (more or less unexplained) reason that it lacked jurisdiction over this case. Why exactly it didn’t say. It also missed an opportunity: To engage in a little educating, of the parents of some students who ventured into the rough and tumble and might themselves have possibly learned something.

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