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Posts published in June 2010

Huffman on BP

Jim Huffman

You'd think you'd want to pause for just a moment before jumping to the defense, these days, of British Petroleum. But Oregon Senate candidate Jim Huffman, the Republican nominee (against incumbent Democrat Ron Wyden), does just that. (Hat tip here to Blue Oregon.)

In a report in the Medford Mail Tribune, Huffman said that the federal government ought not be "a dominant player in our lives," and beyond that "the federal government can't solve any problem."

And: "Funding bike paths, taking over General Motors and telling BP to pony up $20 billion to a fund that the president will hand out — these don't fit the enumerated powers of the government in the Constitution."

So if a BP virtually destroys vast stretches of our common property, just who is it that should deal with the situation? And is he really arguing that the federal government never has solved a problem - that it cannot? If that's the case, why is he bothering running for office in an organization so completely pernicious when it's not ineffective? Why waste your time?

Friends of BP

Curious at all about who in the Northwest political sphere that British Petroleum - they of the endless Gulf oil spout - consider their friends?

You can probably make some assessment through looking at whose campaigns they have contributed to.

In the current cycle, according to the invaluable Open Doc Hastings, R-WA6 ($1,000); Rick Larsen, D-WA2 ($1,000); Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA5 ($1,000); Greg Walden, R-OR2 ($1,000).

In the 2008 cycle, you get these: Larsen ($2,000), McMorris Rodgers ($1,000), Walden ($1,000), Jay Inslee, D-WA1 ($1,000), and former Oregon Senator Gordon Smith ($2,000). No one in the Idaho delegation in either cycle.

Rossi’s semi-campaign

The Seattle Times questioning whether Dino Rossi is really even interested in the Senate campaign? It did in an article today, following up with this:

"Since declaring his candidacy May 27, Rossi has scheduled few press events, skipped some chances to debate his GOP rivals and kept his campaign web site practically devoid of content. Meanwhile, he has found time to speak at real-estate seminars teaching investors how to make a profit off buying and selling foreclosures."

That latter point has been happily seized on by Democrats, and may have left some Republicans wondering - why would he do it? Why go so far out of your way to deliver the opposition a talking point?

Another point in the article, about Rossi's no-showing at events this season aimed at Republicans, may be more telling.

One such event is slated for this evening, directed toward Tea Party enthusiasts and other conservatives, and is expected to draw the other two significant Republican contenders, Clint Didier and Paul Akers. Rossi's response to his nonappearances has run like this: "There is no Republican primary. There is no Democratic primary any more. It's been wiped out," Rossi said. "I would like to be in situations where I can compare and contrast with Patty Murray."

On a formal level Rossi is, of course, correct: The August primary will not decide party nominees, only a top two, and Rossi is highly likely to clear that bar.

On a more pragmatic level, though, Rossi seems to be kissing off the people in his own party - the most activist segment of it - who have been arguing that people like Didier or Akers are the real conservatives and Rossi just an establishment RINO. Rossi will need those activists in November, more than he will in August, and he's not been laying down much ground work for developing them into a loyal base. Call that a factor in the eventual Murray-Rossi contest.

How much a race in OR 1?

So is the race in Oregon's House 1, between incumbent Democrat David Wu and Republican Rob Cornilles, heating up?

Chris Cillizza's Fix at Washington Post certainly advances the possibility: "Oregon Democratic Rep. David Wu is among the more unlikely GOP targets but a new internal poll for his opponent's campaign suggests he might be in a real face this fall. Wu takes 46 percent to 40 percent for sports business consultant Rob Cornilles in the Moore Information survey, which was obtained by the Fix ..."

Obtained, presumably, from the Republican sources Cornilles' campaign is closely tied to. Cornilles, unlike some other Republican primary contenders around the country (see Vaughn Ward in Idaho, for example) was very much the preferred choice of the national Republican establishment, and he has a solid campaign staff (including some Oregon-experienced staff) with significant Beltway links. For a Cornilles-run internal poll (which it was) to take substantial mention in the Post or National Journal isn't especially unusual. (It does indicate a campaign staff alert to pushing all the buttons it can.)

That said, the results in themselves should be treated, as intentionally released campaign-generated numbers always ought to be, with deep caution. The sense here is that Cornilles is further back than he seems to be; Wu has for a decade now been regularly described an advance of elections as more vulnerable than he turns out to be, even in years of bad headlines, which this one isn't. The appearance of the numbers, though, does say this: The Cornilles people are working, and if a large enough anti-incumbency opening does appear, they're positioning themselves to take advantage of it.

Comings and goings

A great resource for visualizing where people in the Northwest are coming from and where they're going: A map on generated from Internal Revenue Service Data. county by county, it shows where people around the country are arriving from, and where they're headed.

Click on Multnomah County, and you can see where people in Portland are coming from (mainly California and the Washington/New York pole), if you can work through the heavy run of stats (represented here by black and red lines). But some of the most interesting bits are in the smaller counties. Idaho County, Idaho, for example, sends people to other nearby rural counties but draws them from more urban places, notably the Boise area.

Lots to play with here. (Hat tip to Jack Bog's Blog.)

“He did nothing wrong”

Not entirely by way of defense of the two women who were not behaving ideally in their interaction with a Seattle police officer . . . but is this really what a Seattle police union rep really ought to be suggesting about the officer in this incident - wherein he slugged an apparently unarmed woman - in this video:

"He did nothing wrong. If anything, I think he maybe waited a little too long to engage in force because I think he was trying to defuse the situation and calm people down . . ."

Seattle is lucky a riot didn't erupt then and there. Historically, riots have been sparks by just such incidents . . . even when not caught on video.

Felon on the run

Jesse Miller

Meet a new (since last month) state House candidate in District 29 in Tacoma, Jesse Miller, a civic activist, at Olympia and locally, working behalf of the poor. She is outspoken about racism. She runs a business, albeit one unusual for a legislative candidate: A rap record label called Felony Entertainment. Her roster of community activism - a lengthy list - includes Social Justice Fund-Leaders Under 40, Chair of the Board for Statewide Poverty Action Network 2004-2008, Springbrook Project 2008-, member of Black Collective, The Matrons Club, Praxis Project, Vote For A Change Campaign, Accessing The American Dream Project, Hip Hop Pioneer.

And one more thing, in no way being hidden by the candidate: About 15 years ago she was convicted on a drug charge (cocaine delivery) and served two years in prison. She's fulfilled all her obligations but, as the Felony Entertainment site quotes her: “'I found my options were slim,' she said, noting employment offers were limited to flipping burgers and other minimum wage jobs. 'That felony conviction followed me around'.”

The district is pretty solidly Democratic, but this is a very edgy candidate for the Democrats anywhere in Washington, no?

Well no. She's running as a Republican, challenging incumbent Democrat Steve Kirby, who actually was supportive of some of Miller's proposals last term. (Miller has an interesting runthrough about the party choice on her Facebook page.)

A 2009 law opened the door to voting and even running for office for people who have a felony conviction in their background. Not everyone supported it; Representative Christopher Hurst (a Democrat, and a police detective) told the Tacoma News Tribune that a felony conviction “should be a lifetime disqualifier . . . There are plenty of other people who could run for public office.”

There are, but the kinds of people who wind up in most legislatures tend to be . . . a lot alike. And if a person has gone through the strenuous process of societal repayment, has stayed clean and is up front about the record - why exactly should the citizen be denied the run, and the voters given the option? The point of having a lot of people in a legislature - 147 in Washington's case - is to collect a wide range of experiences, and people who have responded (hopefully successfully) in various ways.

A lot of material for discussion here.

Green prisons

Of interest: Oregon's prisons are moving toward solar energy.

It doesn't seem an obvious fit, but it apparently can work. In this high-priced arena, significant energy costs at a few of the facilities already have been trimmed back. The Two Rivers Correctional at Umatilla has has a good enough experience with it that others are now sending out requests for bids.

One more thing in a prison system that isn't reliant on an external network. There could even be a security advantage in that.

This week in the PADs

weekly Digest

This week's Oregon, Idaho and Washington Public Affairs Digests are out, political news continues regionally as Washington Republicans hold their convention in Vancouver and the Idaho 1st district contest continues to take shape.

There are also reviews of the Oregon state government 9% solution, school closures in Portland and elsewhere, the shift of Boise State University athletics to the Mountain West Conference, new filings in the Lowe court case, the dispute over trust lands in the Okanogan territory and much more.

As a reminder: We're now publishing weekly editions of the Public Affairs Digests - for Idaho, Washington and Oregon - moving from a monthly to a weekly rundown of what's happening. And we're taking it all-electronic: The print edition will be moving to e-mail.

That means we can include more information, and get it out a lot faster: The weekly Digests will be in your in-box first thing Monday morning. If you subscribe, of course: That's $59 a year, for 50 issues and the yearbook. Yes, including the yearbook. The Idaho Yearbook, which we published for years up to 2002, will return early in 2011 - in printed book form - and Digest subscribers get it for free with their subscription. And the Oregon and Washington yearbooks will be coming out at the same time.

If you'd like to take a look at one of the new weekly Digests, here's a link to the Idaho edition, to the Oregon edition and to the Washington edition. If you'd like to subscribe, here are the links (through to PayPal) for Idaho, for Oregon and for Washington.