Writings and observations

There seems to be an almost mathematical logic to legislative special sessions: The more precisely they are planned and mapped out beforehand, with goals specifically worked out and votes counted, the more likely they are to succeed. The last special sessions in Oregon and Idaho worked out well on that logic, both getting the anticipated jobs done with dispatch. The last one in Washington state (this year), though only a little hazier in intent, was just fuzzy enough in its route to completion that it took weeks longer than anyone had expected. Or wanted.

Which translates to no surprise when legislators in Oregon now have shot down the idea of a special session there, for more formal legislative review (and maybe revision) of spending cuts in the wake of revenue shortfall. Governor Ted Kulongoski, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Dave Hunt all had advised against. On one level budgeting is, yes, a legislative function. But on the other: What exactly would the legislators be attempting to accomplish? No one really knows.

In a statement out from the Oregon House this afternoon, “Oregon House members have rejected a call for a special session to begin by June 14, according to information released late this afternoon by Chief Clerk Ramona Kenady. As of 4:00 this afternoon, 34 House members had submitted ballots opposing the call for the special session. Only 17 members voted yes to come into special session. Nine others did not submit ballots and are counted as no votes.”

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Oregon

A new poll just out on the Idaho 1st District race, the first since the primary, and again suggesting the hard-to-call nature of the beat.

Conducted by Greg Smith Associates, it gives Republican nominee Raul Labrador 39.5% support, to Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick‘s 29% support. (That includes both hard and soft support.) Undecided amounted to 30%.

Smith’s comments: ““These findings are particularly surprising to us, since a poll we commissioned in early May showed Minnick leading ‘the Republican candidate’ by a margin of 50% to 20%. Certainly, the publicity surrounding the recent GOP primary, the renewed attention on Raul Labrador and his viewpoints which are clearly in step with the majority of Idahoans, and the trends nationally toward Republican candidates all play a role in these findings. However, these findings are by no means a guarantee of victory by Labrador. Minnick’s current domination in campaign funds, combined with his voting record which has not been deemed highly unsatisfactory by the Idaho electorate to date, make for a formidable candidate.”

A Minnick erosion of 20 points since early May certainly doesn’t seem likely. But you do get the sense of a district somewhat torn and somewhat up for grabs. Suggesting that this is a race yet to be won or lost.

Specs: “among likely 2010 general election voters in Idaho. The poll was conducted June 7 and 8 among 400 randomly selected and statistically representative 1st Congressional District general election voters eighteen years of age or older. The results of the study have a maximum margin of error of + 5.0% at a 95% confidence level.”

UPDATE A comment from John Foster of the Minnick campaign on the Huckleberries blog: “It’s long past the time for people in Idaho media to continue giving Greg Smith ink and bandwidth. Set aside for a moment his years of inaccurate predictions. On their own, his most recent two polls should provide a clear answer to anyone who is uncertain as to his accuracy. Before the primary he had Walt at 50 percent among GOP primary voters, and now claims that, in a matter of weeks, Walt has fallen to half that support among ALL voters? That is a massive drop in a very short amount of time, with no explanation. In other words, not statistically possible.”

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Idaho