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Posts published in “Day: May 5, 2009”

Leiken into the 4th?


Sid Leiken

You have to suspect that the entry in the Oregon 4th of Springfield Mayor Sid Leiken is premised on (a) an open seat or (b) building for the future.

By all accounts - and this is a guy Oregon Republicans have wanted for years to run for higher office - Leiken will be a serious candidate and a real part of a generally limited Republican bench in Oregon. As Roll Call, which broke the announcement (hat tip though to Jeff Mapes at the Oregonian) suggested, "a run against DeFazio may seem like a fool’s errand."

That would be Peter DeFazio, the Democrat who has held the 4th district seat since 1986, and won in landslides every election in the last 22 years. And that district, which has been described as lean-Republican in the past, now leans Democratic. On rare occasion, a long-time member of Congress will be defeated, but that usually happens upon becoming neglectful of the home district, something DeFazio doesn't do.

So how would this make sense? We'd suggest, two ways it could.

First is if DeFazio decides to run for governor, opening the seat. He has not ruled out a gubernatorial run and has expressed some interest. If the seat opens, an early-early start by a decent candidate like Leiken could situate him well.

Second consideration is that, after such a long run, DeFazio won't be there forever, and sometimes an initial run for an office can help pave the way for another one later - or for another major office.

Leiken's race will, in any event, be worth some attention, more than most Republican candidacies in the 4th have been for some time.

A divided camp

Tea Party II at the interim statehouse in Boise was, by several accounts, lightly attended, but it was a marker of one side of an opposing group: the Idaho House Republicans, who are representative in Idaho conservative circles of more than just themselves. On the other side is Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter and another substantial cadre. We'll not get into civil war comparisons here, but there are two distinct sides here, and the sense that there's more to it than just as a disagreement over a few pennies of gas tax.

Now, let's switch to another arena, the presidential.

When the 2008 presidential campaign started to crank up, a large portion - maybe an outright majority, but certainly the largest segment - of Idaho Republicans happily jumped in with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The upper levels of the state Republican structure was solidly represented in Romney's campaign, until he withdrew. After that, and after John McCain's nomination, the new vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin of Alaska, became highly popular among Idaho Republicans. Maybe Romney's Mormon faith and Palin's Idaho background contributed, but those weren't the only factors behind the support. But they also are highly distinctive personalities, suggesting the question: How could someone be an enthusiastic supporter of both? And what would happen if time came to choose?

Re the latter, here we are. From Politico: "In the latest instance of a high-profile GOP member taking a passing swipe at the party's 2008 vice presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney jokingly dismissed Sarah Palin’s inclusion on Time’s list of influential people in an interview broadcast Sunday. He asked, was 'the issue on the most beautiful people or the most influential people?'”

And some blowback from the Palin camp.

So, how do Idaho Republicans choose? Or split? And if they split, would the split bear any resemblance to the Otter-House breakdown?