Archive for March, 2010

Mar 17 2010

Resume man, issues man

Published by under Washington

Denny Heck

Denny Heck

Craig Pridemore

Craig Pridemore

Democratic activists around the country have been about as worked up, in both directions, about their own representatives in Congress as they were about Republicans (in one unilateral direction) before 2009. Are they on board with health care reform (and, notably, a public option) or not? Are they in favor of major financial regulation reform, or not? And so on. More than a few question how helpful many of the congressional Blue Dogs, for example, really are in pushing a governing agenda.

This dynamic (the Republicans have a different variation, partly because they’re out of power) may have an effect on the November election. But its force, major or minor, is first most likely to be felt in Democratic primaries around the country. And of those, there may be not many better examples than in the Washington 3rd – southwest Washington.

The House seat has been held by Democrat Brian Baird, who likely could have been easily re-elected this year but opted out instead. On the scale of activist faves, Baird scores weak, with his break from many Democrats over Iraq a few years ago, and his recent reluctance to back his caucus’ health care legislation. (Presumption here is that he will vote in favor, ultimately, but that’s not nailed down in his public statements.)

The two main Democratic candidates – the nominee will very likely be one or the other – are former legislator and businessman Denny Heck from Olympia, and current state Senator Craig Pridemore of Vancouver. The in-party contrast between them will make for an interesting study, one that national observers ought to pay some attention to.

Heck has gotten Baird’s endorsement, and his background offers rationale for that. He is a former state legislator (a decade’s worth), a former gubernatorial chief of staff (for Democratic Governor Booth Gardner), a co-founder of the fine C-SPAN-like TVW network (and a visible presence for some years on it), and a participant in a number of businesses, enough to make him fairly wealthy and allow him to partly underwrite his campaign. He underlines all of this in his campaign announcements and statements, which tend to lead off with a discussion about the need to improve the area’s jobs picture. He seems clearly intelligent and informed.

That last – a statement that economic development is very important – is about as far as he seems to go toward issues, though. Scan his web site, watch his video, read the news stories about him, and there’s very little to say about what he actually would do as a member of Congress. In the current context: Would he be a backer of health reform legislation, and if so, what kind? Where is he on finance reform? The answers to such questions seem awfully elusive.

Pridemore is a different case. A state senator and a Clark County commissioner before that, he too has an impressive resume (if maybe a little less striking than Heck’s). The key difference is pointed up by the first thing Pridemore says in his new video: “When you listen to me talk, when you listen to me explain my feelings about the issue, I think you know I’m telling you what I truly believe.” (Pridemore’s web site has a page on “issues,” but intriguingly, Heck’s does not.)

Pridemore’s stances on those key current issues (pro-reform bills, in health and finance, among other things) has been made totally clear. And, while running in the primary, he has used lines (in his campaign web site’s video no less) like this: “I was disappointed in Democrats. I was disappointed that we didn’t have people there willing to stand up and tell the insurance companies and tell the health care industry that this program is not about them.”

The importance of job creation is major and real, of course, but nobody thinks otherwise – it’s a commonplace.

So figure Pridemore along the lines of the center, possibly center-left, of the House Democratic caucus, and Heck more likely to the center-right (on balance), around where Baird is. As best we can tell. In the context of the Democratic primary 2010, that’s where their relative handling of the issues would suggest they would be.

This will be a tough and maybe close race. Heck will have more money and may get more support from a number of party leaders. Pridemore will get the activists. And we’ll see what happens this summer.

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Mar 16 2010

F-35, yes or no

Published by under Idaho

Idaho public officials have been jumping at the opportunity to pull in F-35 military aircraft, which would be based at Gowen Field at Boise. One indicator has been the Idaho Legislature, which passed (House unanimously, the Senate on voice vote) House Joint Memorial 10, urging the planes be based there.

That would lead you suggest that the proposal – which does have its downsides, notably some very loud noise across a good deal of Boise – is overwhelmingly popular. But that may not be right.

Take a look at the forum on the subject at the Idaho Statesman web site – the comments are running decidedly in opposition. A number of commenters suggested that Mountain Home Air Force Base, about 35 miles away, might be a more suitable location.

One commenter: “I retired from the Air Force 6 years ago. One of the reasons I came here is because there are no jets! If they fly F-35’s out of Gowen Field it will be heard everywhere in the valley, not just around the airport flight paths. If they do a ground engine test at 50% you will hear it in Idaho City. In England, the Air Force was sued because F-111s were rattling the old churches apart in towns miles away. In New Mexico the F-15’s were causing Cows not to milk as much – that’s what the farmers said anyway. My parents live near Eglin AFB, FL where the city of Valpariso just sued the Air Force not to put F-35’s there. The F-35’s are the loudest Air Planes I’ve ever heard. Think straight exhaust without any muffler or baffler and multiply it by a thousand.”

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Mar 15 2010

OR gov: An opening round

Published by under Uncategorized


At the debate: John Kitzhaber (left), Bill Bradbury/Stapilus

The two main Demcratic candidates for Oregon governor, former Governor John Kitzhaber and former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, have debated before and fairly recently. But this evening at the Multnomah County Courthouse was the first since filing for the office closed – since, you might say, the campaign period more or less formally begins.

Both, at a crowd somewhere upward of 100 people, were readty to roll this evening.

Both put some emphasis, opening their discussion, on Democratc bona fides. Kitzhaber painted himself, for one thing, as the bulwark against the Republican tide of the mid-90s, saying of his many vetoes, for example, that “without those vetoes Oregon wold be a far different state today”. (Although he would speak later, passionately, about working with Republicans.) Bradbury spoke about a range of fronts, from his Bank of Oregon proposal to his call for much higher education funding levels. Both made a point of addressing the state’s economic problems.

Bradbury was quick to be up front about his muscular schelosis, point out his entry into the room on his segway. But he said the disease was diagnosed back in 1980 and didn’t stop him from serving as Senate president or secretary of state.

The most striking single policy idea (not new to this debate, but highlighted at it) was Bradbury’s for a Bank of Oregon, as a means of keeping Oregon money in state to a greater degree. Kitzhaber said he thought it was an idea worth investigating further, among others, but noted that North Dakota (the only state now with a state bank) and Oregon may have a number of structural differences.

Broadly, they agreed on quite a bit – both, in loose terms, are liberal Democrats. (Their disagreements had mainly to do with means, not ends – Kitzhber sometimes questioning the practicality of some of Bradbury’s ideas.) But Bradbury’s framing sounded more like traditional Democratic talk (he, more than the crisply wonkish former governor, had that earnest-Democrat sound), while Kitzhaber’s approach and conceptual framework was a lot different on a range of issues. One brainy Idahoan was asked, years ago, whether in the area of utility regulation he considered himself a consumer advocate; he said not really, because he wasn’t a fan of consumption – his way of looking at issues was simply different. Analogous with Kitzhaber, who seemed to scale down the current talk on health insurance (considering it one one slice of the issue), for example, in favor of a large-concept look at health in terms of promoting better health as the essential solution to the problem.

Kitzhaber was asked about the choice between bipartisanship and sticking with principles; he described it as a false choice, that “we have to recreate some kind of a political center.”

Bradbury’s supporters seemed more in evidence than Kitzhaber’s. They were sign-waving outside, and they were more evident in the commission meeting room too (they live streamed the debate). But the crowd seemed laid back; it was a group of Democrats, do supportive of both candidates, but didn’t seem strongly weighted toward either.

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Mar 15 2010

The Idaho roster

Published by under Idaho

Monday candidate filings for office in Idaho yielded a few nuggets worth note here:

bullet There are now two Democrats filed to take on Republican Senator Mike Crapo, so he won’t be unopposed again in November as he was six years ago. But which will it be? Tom Sullivan of Tetonia, an unknown factor in state politics? Or maybe a guy who did get some headlines a few months back: William Bryk of Brooklyn, New York?

bullet There’s a Supreme Court contest: Justice Roger Burdick is being opposed by 2nd District Judge John Bradbury. Loads of hard feelings lie in back of this one. In 2008, Bradbury ran against and came very close to ousting Justice Joel Horton. Last year, Bradbury was the subject of a complaint that he didn’t live enough in his formal county of residence, Idaho County – a complaint the Supreme Court snarkishly upheld (in which we view as one of its weaker recent decisions). And there’s more back of all this. Could be lots of snark unloaded in this one between here and the May primary. [Note: Corrected to refer to Bradbury, rather than Burdick, as subject of a complaint.]

bullet Only a few more Democrats filing for the legislature. Maybe notable: In Idaho Falls, Jerry Shiveley, who in 2006 became the first Democrat elected to the legislature from that area in decades, won a central-city seat, which he lost in 2008, and now is filing for again.

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Mar 15 2010

Baird: Odds are, on board with bill

Published by under Washington


Brian Baird

Outgoing Washington Democratic Representative Brian Baird was among the Democratic “no” votes on the House comprehensive health care bill some months back. Now he’s one of the critical four voters House Democrats leaders hope to flip on the upcoming House health care vote – needed because of prospective losses elsewhere.

Baird’s public statement on the subject is a little cagey, although he does say, “The legislation that is currently being discussed in the House of Representatives is far different from the bill I voted against in November 2009.” He seems to be leaving room for voting in favor.

Meanwhile, the Democratic representative from the district immediately north – Adam Smith – says that “It’s possible I vote for the Senate bill and against reconciliation.”

Even so, the pieces appear as though they’re coming together. Those two seem to be, at this point, the only two northwest members of Congress whose votes (whether up or down) look seriously in doubt.

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Mar 14 2010

“Nothing regular about this regular session”

Published by under Washington

sp sess

Special session announcement/TVW

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire got off a pretty good line – “There was nothing regular about this regular session” – although it may be twisted considerably for comic effect before long . . . in announcing the special legislative session coming up this week.

The revenue shortfall remains $2.8 million. They have a week now to fill it (starting Monday at noon).

Or presumably another round after that if need be. But the guess here is that the prospective embarrassment will limit them to one.

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Mar 13 2010

Klamath water users like decision

Published by under Oregon

An Oregon Supreme Court decision in the case Klamath Water District et al v. United States, a case referred to it (partially) from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, is being roundly praised by water user advocates.

The Oregon court said the referrals “ask whether, as a matter of state law, the farmers and irrigation districts that use water from a federal reclamation project have an equitable property interest in a water right to which the United States holds legal title and whether an equitable property interest in a water right is subject to adjudication in the ongoing Klamath Basin water rights adjudication.”

In background, the court said “The Federal Bureau of Reclamation manages the Klamath Project, which stores and supplies water to farmers, irrigation districts, and federal wildlife refuges in the Klamath River basin. The plaintiffs in the underlying federal litigation are farmers and irrigation districts that use water from the Klamath Project for irrigation and other agricultural purposes. As a result of drought conditions in 2001, the Bureau terminated the delivery of water to plaintiffs that year in order to make water available for three species of endangered fish. Claiming a property right in the water, plaintiffs brought an action in the United States Court of Federal Claims, alleging that the United States had taken their property in violation of the Fifth Amendment and, alternatively, that the United States had breached its contractual obligation to deliver water to them. The United States asked the federal claims court to abstain from deciding plaintiffs’ takings claim until an ongoing state water rights adjudication determined what, if any, property rights plaintiffs had in the water from the Klamath Project.”

In response, the court concluded: Continue Reading »

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Mar 12 2010

The challenge

Published by under Idaho

It’s gotten a good deal of attention in Idaho, some in Washington and a little in Oregon. But from any of those angles, Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter‘s “Love Letter to Our Neighbors” merits a little thought.

The core of it is business solicitation, specifically going after businesses in Oregon and Washington which are seeing their states raise taxes, while Idaho is not: “We now are reaching out to hundreds of Oregon businesses, and will do the same with those in Washington if the legislature there follows Oregon’s lead. We aren’t offering many bells and whistles, but what we can offer is a business-friendly State government, a highly qualified and motivated work force, and communities where people understand that while government cannot be the solution to their problems it can and must be a champion for their own solutions.”

On Monday, Otter wrote that “Last month, for example, Oregon voters approved their legislature’s decision to raise taxes on the wealthy and on many businesses by $727 million. The immediate result was that my phone started ringing – and so did phones over at our Department of Commerce. It seems that word has spread about our Project 60 initiative, and that we are open for business, including theirs! The businesses that have called are emotional about this subject, and they have every right to be. Rising costs – especially during a recession – could put some employers out of business, or at least prompt layoffs. More than 2,000 Oregonians joined a Facebook group to protest the tax increase and commiserate about the repercussions. No less an Oregon business icon than Nike’s Phil Knight calls it ‘Oregon’s Assisted Suicide Law II’.”

On Tuesday, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire fired back. She said that “I’m not an expert on Idaho,” but pointed out “It looks like they have a corporate tax of 7.6 percent, a sales tax of 6 percent, an income tax ranging from 1.6 to 7.8 percent,” she said. Washington doesn’t have an income tax (though it has a comparable business and occupation tax), and its sales tax isn’t a lot higher. She mentioned (as she often does) the Forbes business rankings of states: “We’re now the second best state in the country and they went from seventh to 11th. They’re going down in the rankings. Regulatory environment we’re ranked 5th, they’re ranked 35th. You get my point?”

(Otter’s letter refers to studies ranking Idaho lower in tax rates than the others. Note to all: If you want to go state tax-survey shopping, you’ll find you can get whatever ratings you want if you look hard enough.)

Oregon’s officials by and large haven’t expressed terrific concern over this, though House Republican leader Bruce Hanna of Roseburg (who opposed the tax measures) did say in an Oregonian opinion piece today that “As a business owner, I recently received a letter from Idaho Gov. Butch Otter inviting me to bring my company and my jobs to his state. Although I have no intention of leaving Oregon, I’m deeply concerned when other states and cities are actively courting our businesses.”

A whole lot of posturing going on. But is any of this likely to make much difference in terms of business opens, closes or moves?

Not likely. Continue Reading »

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Mar 11 2010

If he doesn’t

Published by under Idaho

UPDATE He has: Otter filed for re-election this (Friday) morning. What follows may still be food for thought, though.

This post may be rendered useless speculation tomorrow or next week, and odds are it will be. Can’t help posting it, though, just because it seems to shine some light on a political dog that didn’t bark in the night-time. [see edit at end of post]

That would be C.L. “Butch” Otter, the governor of Idaho who is widely expected to run for a second term. He has nowhere said he won’t, has indicated he will, and has six filing days left to do it. But when asked about his campaign, he has sounded reluctant to the point of diffidence. Yeah, odds are he will.

But it’s quite a contrast with the last cycle for the office, when Otter, just re-elected in 2004 to the U.S. House, made clear he wanted to run for governor. Hardly had his re-election to federal office been certified than he was on the run, the happy warrior doing everything he could to lock down at least the Republican nomination for governor. Then-Lieutenant Governor Jim Risch, who also wanted the job, was simply out-maneuvered, and in November 2005, after strongly suggested he was in the race, dropped out. It was the logical move: Otter had moved very aggressively to sew it up.

Compare that to this cycle: What looks very like an oh-I’ll-get-around-to-it sort of approach, almost an unwillingness. The contrast couldn’t be much greater.

So what if Otter – and the decision is singularly his – decided: To hell with this garbage everyone insists on putting me through? What if he decided not to file?

What a fun time we’d have. Well, some of us. Continue Reading »

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Mar 11 2010

And candidates trickle in

Published by under Idaho

Monday was a deluge, the rest of the week a trickle, in Idaho candidate filings. That’s not unusual; the pace doesn’t ordinarily pick up again until near the end, which is a week from tomorrow.

No posts on this the last couple of days because there wasn’t a lot to say – the fitful filings have been mostly as expected.

Following up on a Kevin Reichert post yesterday, though: The bulk of the legislature does seem to be running for another go-round.

Unless my count was somehow side-tracked, I’m now counting 82 current legislators having filed for another run at the legislature. That includes Democrat Anne Pasley-Stuart in District 19, currently a House member running for the Senate seat, but not Senator Nicole LeFavour, who plans to swap offices with Pasley-Stuart, but hasn’t yet filed. o you can bump that up to 83.

Since there are just 105 legislators, and since six more filing days (out of a total of 10) remain, that gives good odds the next legislature will, as Reichert suggested, closely resemble this one.

There is also this:

Total number of legislative seats (out of 105 total) for which Democratic candidates (including incumbents) have filed so far: 20. Seats for which Republicans (including incumbents) have filed: 79.

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Mar 09 2010

OR: We have a roster

Published by under Oregon

Candidate filing in Oregon is done for this cycle, barring unusual circumstances, and not counting appearances from the minor parties. Now we can take a quick first run at what’s emerging among some of the 306 candidates . . .

U.S. SENATE Ten candidates for the U.S. Senate this time, including one overwhelming favorite – incumbent Democrat Ron Wyden – and a cast of lesser-knowns. Two – Loren Hooker and perennial Pavel Goberman – are primary contestants. Among the seven Republicans, most of whom list no previous governmental experience, the most likely nominee will be former law school dean Jim Huffman. Although, in what’s apt to be a low-key primary, you’d be hesitant to post a flat bet on any result.

U.S. HOUSE 1 All five House seats wind up contested, and more candidates filed in the 1st than any other. Democratic incumbent David Wu seems, again, strongly positioned (the Oregonian actually put a positive-spin headline about him on the front page this week) – he’s been underestimated in most of the last few cycles. David Robinson of Beaverton will opposed him in the primary. Four Republicans filed here – Stephan Andrew Brodhead, Rob Cornilles, John Kuzmanich and Douglas Keller; Cornilles seems to have developed the best organization and campaign effort so far, but all are newcomers to campaigning and the primary outcome is far from certain.

U.S. HOUSE 2 Republican incumbent Greg Walden seems unassailable in this strongly Republican district, but the Democrats did come up with a candidate, Ashland writer Joyce Segers. Those two will proceed to the general.

U.S. HOUSE 3 Earl Blumenauer, the Democratic incumbent in this strongly Democratic district, has another low-key primary challenger (John Sweeney) and – second time around – Republican Delia Lopez, who lives a couple of hours south of the Portland-based district in the small city of Oakland. (Yes, she can legally file for the seat, but expectations of victory ought, of course, to be modest.)

U.S. HOUSE 4 Only a few months ago, Republicans were looking at this seat with some realistic hopes, back when veteran Democratic incumbent Peter DeFazio was considering a run for governor instead, and Springfield Mayor Sid Leiken looked like a strong nominee. Neither circumstance came to fruition, and now DeFazio is back as an extremely-hard-to-beat incumbent, and Republicans have two little-known challengers (Jaynee Germond of Dillard and Art Robinson of Cave Junction) headed to the primary. Doesn’t look like a lot of excitement here.

U.S. HOUSE 5 This could be the one really hot congressional race in Oregon this year. Democrat Kurt Schrader is in his first term in a district still pretty closely balanced between the parties (though Democrats have been picking up). Republicans have their strongest congressional challenger anywhere in the state (and probably their strongest challenger in Oregon period above the legislative level) in state Representative Scott Bruun, a relatively moderate and strongly articulate and knowledgeable legislator from West Linn. Bruun has a Republican primary with Fred Thompson of Salem, which may help him organize earlier around the district. Unless Thompson delivers a shocker in May, the Schrader-Bruun contest will be one of the best to watch in Oregon this year.

GOVERNOR No fewer than 13 filers for governor this year, and so few with any realistic shot of getting past May. Among the Democrats, there’s former Governor John Kitzhaber, who has the best odds, and of it isn’t him, it’ll be former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. Two other Democrats – Steve Shields (thought he’d pulled out?) and Roger Obrist – are in the primary too. And then there are nine Republicans; of them, five are little-known, one (Bill Sizemore) has some name ID but not in politically helpful ways, and then there are the three invited to speak at the Dorchester conference: Allen Alley, Chris Dudley and John Lim. The race upcoming seems likely to revolve heavily around either those three, or maybe evolve into a de facto two-way between Alley and Dudley.

STATE TREASURER The unexpected race (noted in previous posts) will feature three Democrats: new incumbent (and former Multnomah County chair) Ted Wheeler, state Senator Rick Metsger, and former Treasurer Jim Hill. We’ll start with an incumbent’s presumption, but there’s plenty of room for surprises here. Republican state Senator Chris Telfer of Bend will face one in November.

LEGISLATIVE Not many stunners here – we’ll cut short this too-long post before getting into the details – but will note generally that Republicans have improved their candidate filings for legislative seats, a roster than sank to mediocre levels in 2008. In fact, if an initial check is right, Republicans have filed candidates for all but one of the 60 House seats, which means more ballot lines filled than the Democrats have done – a real achievement. And they’ve done not badly with filling slots on the Senate side too.

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Mar 09 2010

A treasury of candidates

Published by under Oregon


Ted Wheeler

And with the speed of superglue – hastened by the 5 p.m. candidate filing deadline – a whole section of Oregon politics for the months ahead is snapping into place.

The reason, as noted here earlier, is the combination of a candidate filing deadline today, plus the death on Sunday of state Treasurer Ben Westlund. He was probably one of the most-liked people in Salem, but the law didn’t allow for time to pause and grieve, only time to decide and file.

The first key action today was Governor Ted Kulongoski’s appointment to treasurer for the period from here until after a new treasurer is elected. That went (in what felt like a small but not large surprise) to Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler. Wheeler hadn’t been much involved in politics on the state level up to now, but he has gotten good headlines at Multnomah since he took office there in January 2007, leading a commission which had been a trouble spot for some years, and smoothing out and broadening its activities. He was already running for re-election to the county office this year, and had drawn only slight opposition. The appointment is likely to get positive media attention.

It is professionally defensible. From Wheeler’s own statement on the appointment: “I imagine in some corners of the state, people will ask: ‘Who is Ted Wheeler?’ The short answer is that I currently serve as the chief executive officer of the largest county in Oregon, that I was a senior manager of an investment firm in my private sector career and that I have graduate degrees in government and business. In short, I’ve got a good resume for this job. Frankly, I’ve thought for some time that I might run for Treasurer at some point in the future. I never expected it to be this soon.”

He is also running for it, and as an incumbent is likely to be well-positioned. His ties to the Portland business community are likely to generate a large campaign treasury, and he probably will be able to look to labor for substantial support too.

Not of that is stopping other candidates from entering, two of them state senators: Democrat Rick Metsger of Welches and Republican Chris Telfer of Bend. And there’s former state Treasurer Jim Hill, who can point to his past experience there. Al three can be considered serious candidates, but our guess is that Wheeler will enter as front-runner.

Wheeler’s departure at Mulnomah leaves open his seat at the chair, and another commissioner, Jeff Cogen, and a former state senator, Margaret Carter, are in for that.

More on candidate filings once the deadline is past, later today.

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Mar 08 2010

ID: And they’re off

Published by under Idaho

Some of them, anyway. This is the first official day of campaign ’10 in Idaho, because it’s the first day candidates were allowed formally to file for office. (In Oregon, they’ve been doing it since last fall.) A good many of them did that on Day 1, but the deadline for filing isn’t until a week from Friday.

The names listed so far on the sheet released twice-daily by the secretary of state offers no big surprises so far. The biggest Day 1 splash was the filing by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred, and three others – Republican Rex Rammell, independent Jana Kemp and Libertarian Ted Dunlap – also filed for the office. But the incumbent, Republican C.L. “Butch” Otter, who generally is expected to run, hasn’t shown yet.

No U.S Senate candidates yet (Republican incumbent Mike Crapo hasn’t turned in yet), but both U.S. House incumbents have filed. And while no one is in yet for lieutenant governor or superintendent of public instruction (where both incumbent are expected to run), the incumbent secretary of state, controller, attorney general and treasurer all filed their papers, and all were unopposed (as of the end of day 1).

Nothing yet by way of judicial challenges, though a couple have been rumored.

If my count is right, 49 of the current 105 legislators have filed for re-election – close to half on day one, a strong showing. But (will this hold up?) only a few challenges, primary or general, materializing as yet.

More as it comes.

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Mar 08 2010

For Oregon Treasurer

Published by under Oregon

A sense of whiplash today, so soon after the sad and shocking news of Oregon Treasurer Ben Westlund‘s death yesterday: An immediate, hard, fast for a job no one had expected to be on the ballot this year: Oregon state treasurer.

There are two races right now, in fact: One for appointment to the position, which could happen very quickly, and the other for election to the (partisan) job. That second will play out from here to November, of course, but the participants will have very little time to decide whether to enter. While candidate filing has been open since last September in Oregon, it ends tomorrow. The space of about 48 hours, the office will have come open for election, and the field of candidates for it will be closed. A weird state of events. And the key participants will mostly be people who counted Westlund as a good friend, and really would rather not be contemplating all this just now.

There is also this to consider: When Governor Ted Kulongoski appoints a new treasurer, that person is likely to be given an inside track on election to the job. If, that is, that person is a candidate. No immediate word on a choice from the governor’s office, but the timing puts unusual pressure on his decisionmaking, since running for the office as an incumbent could be a huge advantage.

The first in was state Senator Rick Metsger, D-Welches, who ran for secretary of state in 2008 and is leaving his Senate seat this year (that is, not running for re-election to it). A strong, appealing candidate who came across pretty well in the sec-state race, said he’s running for the office whether appointed to it or not.

At Blue Oregon, Carla Axtman spins out several other prospects too, including Greg Macpherson, the former state representative from Lake Oswego, Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin, activist (and 2008 Senate candidate) Steve Novick, and Multnomah County Commission Chair Ted Wheeler. Any could be solid candidates for the job. Macpherson and Novick have experience running statewide.

But that doesn’t necessarily exhaust the field. We picked up talk this afternoon about another prospect as well, a highly-regarded officeholder, said to have a strong shot at the governor’s appointment. Of course, many such rumors could be circulating at this point.

MIA so far: Serious prospects for treasurer on the Republican side. But there’s no doubt some scrambling to get that ballot line, for an open office, filled quickly.

All of it is happening quickly. Feels as if, too quickly.

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Mar 07 2010

Ben Westlund

Published by under Oregon


Ben Westlund

Ben Westlund, 60, the Oregon state treasurer who died today of cancer, had a cancer outbreak years ago. Part of his response to it was to bear down on developing a serious statewide Oregon medical care program. He was a state senator, and with another senator, Alan Bates, they toured statewide, developed it over a period of time and got it through the Oregon Legislature – an almost astonishing achievement.

Westlund was among the most immediately impressive legislators we spotted when moving to Oregon some years ago, on a range of fronts. He stood out for party, for one thing – he was a Republican, an independent and a Democrat in the legislature. He ran for governor as an independent, and was elected in 2008 as treasurer as a Democrat.

His subject area knowledge was strong enough that you could call him wonkish, but for his manner and approach – energetic, direct and even charismatic. He was a natural to run for a higher office, had he lived longer.

Westlund’s switch to the Democratic legislative caucus prompted a witty comeback from the Republican Senate Leader, Ted Ferrioli, to the effect of: I hope the Democrats get all the joy from him that we did – a reference to how he wasn’t always among the most loyal of troops. But you can read the comment in more than one way. As it stands, Oregon got a good deal from Westlund during the too-short time he was here.

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Mar 06 2010

Another power source

Published by under Idaho

As energy providers look around for new sources of electric power – wind gaining special popularity in the Northwest – here’s one that could be highly useful and available all over the region:

Tapping into methane gas found at landfills, and converting it into energy.

The Kootenai Electric Cooperative, based at Hayden, is planning to use methane gas emerging from the Fighting Creek landfill. The Spokesman Review quotes its marketing manager as saying, “We have a unique situation here, which makes this a wonderful project. We have fuel in close proximity to the power lines. Basically what we’re doing is putting a generator in between the two. So it’s very economical. The power will go right to the power lines.”

That may be a better-than-average situation, but it probably could be managed at many other locations as well. There’s a neat efficiency to the concept, and useful environmental cleanup alongside.

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Mar 05 2010

The available candidates

Published by under Oregon


A Dudley greeter at Dorchester, early on/Stapilus

There was a tea party and Sarah Palin presence of sorts (the latter being a cardboard cut-out) at this weekend’s Republican Dorchester Conference. But they weren’t in the Necanicum Room, where most of the candidates, organizers and vendors could be found; they were toward the end of a hallway off to the side.

The tea accoutrements weren’t especially visible elsewhere either, at least on Friday, at the Oregon Republican (unofficial but highly established) event, held again this year at Seaside. They didn’t have their kind of candidates much in evidence, either.

Dorchester felt like a contrary mix. More optimism than four years ago, and on surface impression a bigger turnout. (A positive indicator for Republicans – House Minority Leader Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg, said at the Dorchester opening that candidates for 58 of the 60 House seats were present; an impressive display.)

But not some other things.

The nominees for governor (speaking at Dorchester) are Allen Alley, businessman and former staffer for Democratic governor Ted Kulongoski, legislator (Senate and House) John Lim and former NBA basketball player Chris Dudley. Their approaches, and the distinctions among them in the crowd, were clear enough.

Dudley got the loud response – a snap response for him personally. He had a visual advantage, physically towering over the other two. (In his opening statement he added to it by standing in front of the podiums, poised there tieless and coatless in white shirt, the image of Jimmy Stewart. It was a strong image. Continue Reading »

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This will be one of the most talked-about Idaho books in Idaho this season: 14 years after its last edition, Ridenbaugh Press has released a list of 100 influential Idahoans. Randy Stapilus, the editor and publisher of the Idaho Weekly Briefing and author of four earlier similar lists, has based this one on levels of overall influence in the state – and freedom of action and ability to influence development of the state – as of the start of 2015.
100 Influential Idahoans 2015. By Randy Stapilus; published by Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 202 pages. Softcover. List price $16.95.
100 Influential Idahoans 2015 page.

100 Influential Idahoans 2015
"Essentially, I write in the margins of motherhood—and everything else—then I work these notes into a monthly column about what it’s like raising my two young boys. Are my columns funny? Are they serious? They don’t fit into any one box neatly. ... I’ve won awards for “best humorous column” though I actually write about subjects as light as bulimia, bullying, birthing plans and breastfeeding. But also bon-bons. And barf, and birthdays." Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons. by Nathalie Hardy; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 238 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
Raising the Hardy Boys page.



"Not a day passes that I don’t think about Vietnam. Sometimes its an aroma or just hearing the Vietnamese accent of a store clerk that triggers a memory. Unlike all too many soldiers, I never had to fire a weapon in anger. Return to civilian life was easy, but even after all these years away from the Army and Vietnam I find the experience – and knowledge – continue to shape my life daily."
Drafted! Vietnam in War and in Peace. by David R. Frazier; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton OR. 188 pgs. Softcover. $15.95.
The DRAFTED! page.


Many critics said it could not be done - and it often almost came undone. Now the Snake River Basin Adjudication is done, and that improbable story is told here by three dozen of the people most centrally involved with it - judges, attorneys, legislators, engineers, water managers, water users and others in the room when the decisions were made.
Through the Waters: An Oral History of the Snake River Basin Adjudication. edited by the Idaho State Bar Water Law Section and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 300 pages. Softcover. $16.95.

Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh died on July 20, 2014; he was widely praised for steady leadership in difficult years. Writer Scott Jorgensen talks with Atiyeh and traces his background, and what others said about him.
Conversations with Atiyeh. by W. Scott Jorgensen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 140 pages. Softcover. $14.95.

"Salvation through public service and the purging of awful sights seen during 1500 Vietnam War helicopter rescue missions before an untimely death, as told by a devoted brother, leaves a reader pondering life's unfairness. A haunting read." Chris Carlson, Medimont Reflections. ". . . a vivid picture of his brother Jerry’s time as a Medivac pilot in Vietnam and contrasts it with the reality of the political system . . . through the lens of a blue-collar, working man made good." Mike Kennedy.
One Flaming Hour: A memoir of Jerry Blackbird. by Mike Blackbird; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 220 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
See the ONE FLAMING HOUR page.

Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.


by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at (softcover)



NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

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The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through (softcover)


by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through (softcover)

without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.


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The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.

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