Writings and observations

A few thoughts on review of the quarterly federal congressional campaign reports – the receipts and spending by candidates up to September 30.

• In Washington’s 1st district, an open seat with the gubernatorial run of Democratic Representative Jay Inslee, there are a wealth of reports from Democrats – five of them – and just one from a Republican. Laura Ruderman, the former state representative and secretary of state candidate, has raised the most money ($182,675), followed fairly closely by current state Representative Roger Goodman ($162,127). There are three other candidates, two also legislators, but the early numbers suggest Ruderman and Goodman are the two to watch most closely. For now anyway. And: Not much financial action yet for Republican James Watkins, who also ran last cycle.

• Oregon’s 1st district features a special election, with the primary election period starting this weekend – the crisis period has hit. Top money raiser so far is Democratic state Representative Suzanne Bonamici at $600,404, though a third of that is a loan from the candidate. Second (among the Democrats) is state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, at $378,678 – not far behind Bonamici in terms of ternal money raised. Also of interest is the very serious money coming to Republican Rob Cornilles (the 2010 nominee) – $505,556. Cornilles raised upwards of $1 million for his unsuccessful run last year; he seems on track to raise as much or more this time. High competition is being signaled here, just around the bend.

• Oddly, no new report yet from Washington Senator Maria Cantwell – and none from any prospective challenger. It’s getting awfully late to raise serious money for a U.S. Senate race.

• Along that line, a bunch of representatives have no report-filing opposition yet. In Washington: Jaime Herrera Beutler (3rd), Doc Hastings (4th), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (5th), Jim McDermott (7th), Dave Reichert (8th). Oregon: Greg Walden (2nd), Earl Blumenauer (3rd), Kurt Schrader (5th). Idaho: Mike Simpson (2nd). And, 1st District Representative Raul Labrador has a filed opponent, Jimmy Farris, but Farris reported no contributions by the cutoff date.

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Andrus book

The title, Andrus: Idaho’s Greatest Governor, would give you to think that this is a biography, albeit a hagiographic one. It is better taken as the writer, Chris Carlson (whose columns show up here about weekly), indicated in his substitle, as a reminiscence – a work of memory, through his eyes, in considerable part unchecked in any rigorous way. And, within that frame, it might be taken as this: The story of the mentor relationship between Carlson and Cecil Andrus. That’s the thread that runs through the book.

The first part of the book, about Andrus’ early life and early political years, is relatively biographical, and those interested in Andrus’ background will find plenty of new material here. Carlson has a number of stories to tell from his years working for Andrus, mainly in a press and public relations capacity. He also tells some of his own story, his short time on the Northwest Power Planning Council (as it was called then), the founding of the Gallatin Group, and more. There’s a long chapter as well concerning concerning the campaign surrounding the Washington death with dignity/assisted suicide ballot issue (Initiative 1000, which passed in 2008); Carlson was one of the leading organizers against it. Andrus did not take a role in that campaign (so far as Carlson relates), but the lessons he imparted over the years were taken into that campaign.

That suggests some of the results of the mentoring relationship that is Carlson’s main subject here. Andrus, elected governor four times and Interior secretary for a full presidential term (the only one to last all of Jimmy Carter’s administration), is one of the strongest personalities Idaho has had in the last half-century. If he enters the room, you know it – and you enjoy it (ordinarily). He’s among the rare people seemingly at home anywhere, with just about anyone. And he learned, along the way, a lot about how the world works – another major theme of Carlson’s.

On one occasion, some years back, I had occasion to ask Andrus for advice on a matter relating to a political campaign. The exact bedeviling problem at hand is now forgotten (by me anyway), but Andrus’ advice was not, and especially the effect it had: It lasted no more than two or three sentences, and he hadn’t finished speaking before I knew he was exactly correct. And he was. It was the gift of cutting through clutter.

Carlson also subtitles his book, “Idaho’s Greatest Governor,” and the back cover text says he “inarguably, has had the greatest impact on Idaho in modern times.” That raises a subject we’ll be addressing here a few months from now in another book, looking at the influential people in Idaho history. However exactly you rank him, Andrus has been powerfully impactful on the state. And, as this book maintains, on a lot of individual people as well.

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