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Posts published in “Day: December 10, 2009”

Allred’s entry


Keith Allred

With word out about the entry of Keith Allred, founder and leader of the Common Interest group, into the race for governor as the first substantial Democratic candidate, some scattered thoughts come to mind. (More collected thoughts will follow, later.)

bullet It may go without saying but should be noted that Allred is the nominee-in-waiting. All the major eminences of the state Democratic party (Cecil Andrus, Bethine Church, legislative leadership, others) already are lined up behind him. His announcement grows out of a specific search for a candidate by the party. Allred will be the nominee barring some unusual or unexpected development. He will be trying to unseat a governor, Republican C.L. "Butch" Otter, something not done in Idaho since 1970.

bullet He will be the fourth Democratic nominee in a row who doesn't currently hold public office, and third in a row who's never run for any office before. Businessman Jerry Brady, nominee in 2006 and 2002, had never run for office before. Attorney Robert Huntley (1998) had been a Supreme Court justice and legislator, some years before.

bullet Name ID will be a factor: Allred is well-enough known in political circles, but not much outside of them. That available blank slate is both advantage and liability, depending on who takes best advantage.

bullet He will need a bumper-sticker message to complement his existing messages. And there are existing messages via Common Interest; Allred will be tightly associated with them, and even seems to encourage identification with them in a letter to Common Interest members (as: wouldn't it be great to have a governor who can get all this done?). How the Republican members of CI respond will be worth watching. So also the picking-apart of CI's long and wonkish white papers on various issues; they are thoughtful and interesting and few Idahoans probably will read them.

A quote from Kevin Richert's Idaho Statesman blog: "If Otter is a populist's populist, then Allred is a wonk's wonk." That may be what Otter is counting on.

bullet Allred's background does not grow out of any rooted connection to Idaho Democrats. Will the base be wary, in an election when many in the base will be struggling with what to do about the one Democrat they did elect to major office, Walt Minnick. And how will Allred relate to Minnick? From day one, this will amount to walking a thin line.

More to follow.

Defining unsupportable

Each December, the governor of Washington has to release a proposed state budget. (Earlier there than in Oregon or Idaho, and probably a better schedule.) Those budgets have to work within expected state revenues. Usually, that's not much of an issue, even if the governor is proposing a tax increase. This year . . .

Governor Chris Gregoire's proposed budget (supplemental, for the latter part of the 09-11 biennium) reflects the $2.6 billion spread between the money available and the money which has been expected for spending, through huge cuts:

"Among the programs targeted for elimination are the state Basic Health Plan, which provides health care coverage to nearly 65,000 individuals ($160 million); Apple Health for children, which provides health care coverage to 16,000 low-income children ($11 million); and the General Assistance Unemployable program, which provides cash grants for 23,000 adults and medical services to nearly 17,000 adults ($188 million). In education, funding would be eliminated for 1,500 3-year-olds participating in the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program; the kindergarten-through-4th grade staffing enhancement that reduces class size in the early grades; and levy equalization, which provides extra support to districts with a lower than average property tax base."

Gregoire is expected to propose tax increases of some sort, but the idea appears to be that she wants the effect of the cuts to start to sink into public consciousness first. That could change the feel of the either-or decision.

Peter Callaghan of the Tacoma News-Tribune writes today: "If that was the plan, it worked. Within 90 minutes of the press conference I’d already heard from the Friends of Basic Health Care Coalition, the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, the Washington State Hospital Association, the state nurses union, AARP and University of Washington President Mark Emmert."

The battle is on.