"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

Daily Kos/Research 2000 has out a fairly thorough set of polling on the 2010 Oregon governor’s race, which yet remains far from filling in clear contours. Just two substantial contenders – Democratic former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and Republican businessman Allen Alley – are declared at this point, but there’s little sense that the field on either side is near closed. Alley, for some reason, doesn’t even figure in the polling, maybe because his chances of winning the Republican nomination are not great.

That still leaves the pollsters in the position of polling mostly possibilities rather than actual candidates, which could have some results skewed. Still, there plenty here of interest.

The prospects polled were, on the Democratic side, Bradbury, former Governor John Kitzhaber, Representative Peter DeFazio, and 2008 Senate candidate Steve Novick; and on the Republican side, former Senator Gordon Smith (who may have taken himself out of contention), Representative Greg Walden (who seems likely to have done likewise) and state Senator Jason Atkinson, the one person polled who ran for governor in 2006. (Most frequent guesses seem to run against a DeFazio candidacy too, though that’s more speculative.) President Barack Obama also was polled for favorability.

A few observations.

bullet Obama seems to be far more popular (favorable/unfavorable 62-31, or +31) than any of the Oregonians, and practically everyone had an opinion (just 7% didn’t). The Oregon name who really stuck out in terms of everyone having an opinion was Smith, whose “no opinion” was just 13%; but that’s of no help, since his favorable/unfavorable gap is -9, into unpopular territory, no a good place from which to start a campaign. The two candidates with best standing were Kitzhaber at +20 and DeFazio at +25; the difference probably is more or less erased by Kitzhaber’s larger name familiarity around the state (28% had no opinion of him). Bradbury and Novick were in net positive territory, but the more than half of Oregonians polled had no opinion of them, so they would be virtually building from scratch in campaigning terms. Atkinson’s numbers (+10) were in the Bradbury/Novick range, and Walden’s a little better than that (+11) but a favorable still only at 36%.

bullet In head to heads, Kitzhaber and DeFazio were polling at winning not massively but solidly over all three Republicans. Bradbury was seen as winning but within the margin of error in matchups against Smith or Walden but substantially ahead of Atkinson. Novick was polled as losing to all three Republicans.

Of course, all of this is pre-campaign, and these numbers can and do change once campaigns commence. The high no-opinion factor also matters. Even two-term Governor Kitzhaber (who left office back at the end of 2002) will still have some re-introduction to do, to newcomers and some others. But as this begins, the strongest opening hands likely would be those of Kitzhaber and DeFazio; the next question is whether either of them run.

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There’s a tendency among people watching – or even involved in – political activities to throw efforts and initiatives into the “win” or “loss” column too quickly: A natural tendency to analyze and work out who the winners and losers are. The problem is that politics isn’t a one-shot over and out; it is ongoing, an evolution. Wins are hardly final, because so often they can be reversed later. Same for losses.

Today’s case in point is Oregon House Bill 2398, the bill classifying the Metolius Basin near Bend as an Area of Critical State Concern, drastically limited development there. It has been one of the hardest-fought bills of this year’s legislative session, and closely-fought. Environmentalists have supported it, but the Democratic caucus has been split, partly out of concern that the bill would undermine local planning and zoning efforts. (House Speaker Dave Hunt was among the nays. Republicans have been solidly opposed.)

Last week, the bill – which has cleared the Senate – narrowly failed in the House, and the storyline was that Democrats were sacrificing environmental issues this year to make up for their string of tax increases. And that seemed that.

Today, the bill was brought back up on reconsideration, and Representative Larry Galizio, D-Tigard, switched his vote from last week – enough, just enough, to pass it.

A veteran and highly successful lobbyist in another state often counseled: Never give up till the session ends; and even then. Good advice all over the place.

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Maybe call it a lagging indicator – we’re approaching a year when pay indicators for many classes of employees started to skid – but come now a report that pay for CEOs, in the Northwest at least, is dropping.

A Seattle Times study out today said that “Median pay for the chief executives of publicly traded companies in the Washington, Oregon and Idaho region dropped 6 percent to $1.18 million, reversing several straight years of steep increases.”

Top pay for any CEO in the region in 2007 was $38 million (which by itself might have skewed things a bit that year), but this year peaked at $13 million.

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Washington’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council said on Thursday that revenues for the next two years have been recalculated and adjusted downward, by more than $500 million.

An indicator for around the region? Possibly. Consider that the Oregon Legislature is still around, and still working on budget bills, and still debating over those numbers.

A good rundown of reaction to the Washington revisions shows up on the TVW Capitol Report blog. The main official reaction from Governor Chris Gregoire involves a 2% budget cut from previous levels.

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Up to this (late) point in the Oregon legislative session, the legislature’s majority and Governor Ted Kulongoski seem to have been on the same page on almost everything. But now that the last of the budget decisions are coming in, that’s changing.

The school budget will either larger – because a rainy-day fund was heavily raided – or smaller – because it was only lightly raided – at the end of this. Right now, indications are that Oregon’s legislators are in favor of a heavy raid, while Kulongoski is flatly opposed, to the point of veto. The full scale of the conflict is likely to showdown next week.

Who prevails? No certainty, but legislators are likely, for now, to reflect the difficulty of making the more conceptual case for a low raid. It’s a good case. But harder to get through to people on a gut level, at a tough time, just after a string of tax increases already have been approved . . .

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The strands of neo-Nazi activity running around in the Northwest have become well-known, famous even, mainly because of parades and a long shut-down Aryan Nations compound in the Idaho Panhandle. Probably less well known are the many linkage and contacts, formal and informal, they had around the region and around the country.

These days, the anti-immigrant nativist extremes may be the best place to look for a counterpart. It is less visible in the Northwest than the white supremacists once were, but it’s there.

The Orcinus blog (writer, Dave Neiwert) at Seattle today provides a fascinating runthrough of how some of this works, detailing many of the ties and links between anti-immigrant activity in the Northwest and some chilling crimes further south.

From the post: “the recent arrest of Minuteman offshoot leader Shawna Forde for the murder of an Arizona man and his 9-year-old daughter — part of a broader plan to rob drug dealers and use the money to finance their Minuteman operations – has ripped the veneer off the fake walls these nativists use to pretend that they have nothing to do with the racists who seem to swell their ranks as though they belonged there naturally.” The Northwest connections include a Yakima meeting (caught on video) featuring Forde. There are even links running back to the Aryan Nations.

Useful reading.

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