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Posts published in October 2011

The quarterlies

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.

Review: Andrus, by Chris Carlson

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.

A race in the 1st (Idaho’s)

Farris
Jimmy Farris

Idaho's 1st congressional district has a 2012 race: There's now a Democratic candidates to go alongside the Republican incumbent, Raul Labrador, who presumably will seek re-election.

Jimmy Farris, 33, now living in Meridian and a former NFL wide receiver (for a bunch of teams including the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins) said in a conference call with reporters that he's in, definitely - "We're filed, I'm in." He said his next steps will include fundraising and becoming known around the district, which seems reasonable enough. He said he has a current staff of five (geogrpahically scattered at present), and there's a website.

"This about convincing people that I'm the best person to represent people in this district in Congress. And that's a 50-50 proposition, they either vote for me or against me," he said.

Well ... as any number of Idaho Democrats would attest, it's a little tougher than that. Well, a lot tougher.

He comes across as a nice guy, more easygoing and pleasant than you might expect from a stereotypical NFL player, and those things - with some celebrity - would be assets. He is an Idaho native. And he sounds plainspoken and transparent; you don't get the sense of someone making excessive claims (as has happened in this district before).

On the other hand. He may be an Idaho native, but he hasn't lived in the state between leaving for college more in Montana more than a decade ago, and this summer, when he moved to Meridian. His interest in politics, he said, is quite recent, to the point that he only election he's voted in (in his recollection) was in the 2008 general election; he did not vote last year.

"What I really want to do is make a difference," he said. He expressed concern for the economic state of the country, but beyond saying very generally that he would support a jobs bill, had little specific by way of prescription. He acknowledged he has a good deal to learn yet about a wide range of issues.

Why is he Democrat? "I want to make things easier for other people," he said. "I'm a Democrat because im interested in the lives of everyoday people." If that sounds a little vague, it's not clarified by his view of his opponent, of whom he offered little direct criticism: "It's not about challenging Congressman Labrador." (Actually, it is: By running, he's asking voters to fire him.)

Getting to the NFL has to be a very hard proposition. This may be harder.

Carlson: Passing the test

carlson
Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

The “chattering” class of political pundits and prognosticators is in full lather these days offering uninformed assessments regarding former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s prospects for winning the presidency given that so much of the GOP base today is comprised of self-described Christian evangelicals.

For these folks, most of who are in the south, Mormonism is a cult, not a religion. Some experts think over half the delegates to the National Republican Convention in 2012 will be self-professing evangelicals. Polls show only about 20 percent of this core base of the GOP could vote for a Mormon to be president.

Much is being written since a prominent Southern Baptist pastor with ties to Texas Governor Rick Perry charged that Mormonism is a cult, not a Christian faith. While the self-anointed political experts commenting on this may know something about analyzing polls, most are uninformed when it comes to actual knowledge about Mormonism.

Permit this pundit a few observations.

First, Governor Romney can win the 2012 presidential election for the simple reason that a desire to retire President Obama will trump all concerns regarding his religion. Regardless of one’s political bias, most objective perspectives would concede that so far Romney’s campaign strategy has been smart, well-implemented and soundly executed. (more…)

Allegations of cultishness

Most of what we've heard about this has come from southern religious conservatives. But Seattle's Mark Driscoll appears to be weighing in as well, with implications in this part of the world too.

The subject is the Mormon church - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - and its role in the presidential campaign, and in Christianity. Our view here is that in the former it shouldn't be a consideration (we in this country have no religious test for public office, and for good reason), and in the latter is a subject for consideration by individuals. (A column by Chris Carlson on the subject generally will be up here shortly.)

The presidential candidacies of two Mormons, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, has made the subject irresistable to any number of conservative Christians, however, and a number have weighed in to argue that the LDS Church isn't really Christian, and may even be a cult. Most of these speakers have come from the southern Bible Belt.

Enter Driscoll of Seattle's Mars Hills Church (which has been expanding south to Portland) on the subject:

The danger facing the Christian church is always to capitulate to culture. As Mormonism becomes more culturally acceptable, the temptation will be to make Mormonism more acceptable to Christians as well. This can’t happen if the Church is to preserve it’s witness in the world to the true triune God of the Bible as worshipped by Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians alike.

Many mormons are good neighbors, friends, and fellow citizens. But, we cannot go so far as to call them brothers and sisters in a common faith. To do so is to not only confuse real Christians, but to also diminish the importance of lovingly speaking with Mormons about the errors of their belief in hopes of seeing them come to know the real God of the Bible and avoiding eternal damnation for worshipping a false god.

Driscoll is certainly free to expound on religion as he will. But there are some serious political and social implications to the description of another religious organization - a large one, with deep roots in the region - as a "cult." Those could turn serious indeed as people start casting votes in the months ahead.

Order: Release those names

As per normal, this decision presumably will be appealed. But it has a ring of eventual finality - given the U.S. Supreme Court's generally open-records recent history.

Released today, the ruling from U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle of Tacoma in Doe v. Sam Reed said that Protect Marriage Washington doesn't have the right to keep secret the names of people who signed a petition to put a referendum on the ballot. The referendum, R-71, was proposed by a group of opponents to gay marriage on the broad extension of the state's domestic partnership rules.

The argument was over whether the names on the petitions ought to be considered private, the way ordinary votes are (votes, say, on the referendum after it was on the ballot). But before it could get to the ballot came a policy choice about putting it there - the sort of policy choice that usually has operated in more sunlight.

PMW argued that people might be subject to harassment if their names were released.

But as in some other cases, evidence of harassment was thin.

"Similarly here [as in other cases], PMW was able to secure 137,000 signers for R-71 and obtained nearly half the vote with 838,842 votes. And Doe has not supplied competent evidence or adequate authority to support its claim that R-71 signers constitute a fringe organization with unpopular or unorthodox beliefs or one that is seeking to further ideas that have been 'historically and pervasively rejected and vilified by both this country's government and its citizens.' "Pretty much the opposite, one would think, and the court found similarities between this case and others were more open rules applied.

Testimony was brought from a number of initiative supporters saying they had been - in their terms anyway - harassed. But as the judge noted, these were all public figures, all well known for their stands on gay-related issues for some time, and little evidence was brought that their involvement in R-71 specifically subjected them to harassment. Besides that, the judge noted that more than 800 contributors had (as per the state's campaign finance law) been publicly listed as backers of the R-71 effort, with little evidence of any blowback.

C-52

And the Idaho redistricting commission's work seems to be done, with a congressional plan that looks a whole lot like the one Idahoans have had for decades, save only some shifting of precincts in central-west Ada County.

That was almost certainly what was inevitably going to happen, eventually, though this one could have headed toward deadlock. The Republicans on the commission were determined that a split-Ada approach would happen, and the Democrats wanted a plan that united Canyon County with the rest of southern and eastern Idaho. The odds of that major shift occurring were ... never high.

So Democrat Ron Beitelspacher switched sides and voted with the Republicans for split-Ada.

Does it make any real partisan difference? Evidently some Democrats seem to think so, but it's hard to see how: Both districts, either way, remain overwhelmingly Republican. Changes on a scale much larger than redistricting can afford would be needed to turn either district genuinely competitive.

Now the question: Will someone sue, and if so over what?

Marching in Roseburg

Donna Nelson
Occupy events at Roseburg/photo by Barbara Rainey

The Occupy movement has spread to some small and conservative communities. A report from blogger Barrett Rainey, who lives in Roseburg, Oregon, and reports on activities there. Cross-posted from Rainey's Second Thoughts blog.

Well, I was wrong. Our little right-leaning community here in the forests of Southwest Oregon really did try its hand at the “Occupy” demonstrations last Saturday. I’d previously said it likely wouldn’t happen here where all things political list to starboard. More of a sharp slant, actually.

A few more than 100 folks from seniors to toddlers gathered at the Douglas County Courthouse, then marched across town to the BLM offices for another round of speech-making and display of signs. They picked the BLM, I guess, as the local representative of federal government. The only local fed site larger is the V.A. Hospital campus and who wants to picket a hospital where some of your friends are? And where you may end up?

The kids at the local almost-daily paper duly recorded the thoughts of a few of the participants and published several pictures. But, as usual, there was more to the story that escaped them. First, a little history.

A few months ago, a dozen or so mostly seniors – mostly Democrats – gathered in a local park to sit at tables and talk politics. And grandkids and the price of gas and other subversive things. Soon they were confronted by mostly male – and completely right wing representatives – with nasty signs and nasty, confrontational words. And a fella who shot a video – of what to normal folks would be an embarrassment – to post on a local fringe website.

When the Dems left the park to reconvene at a private residence, the nut jobs followed, tried to trespass, were turned away and settled for blocking the driveway for an hour or two. For the next several weeks the screwballs were roundly chastised by the local, literate citizenry in letters to the editor.

O.K., back to this weekend’s “Occupy” day. The kids at the almost-daily missed – or deliberately avoided mentioning – the collection of some of these same righties standing – where else – on the fringes. One, who likes to think of himself as the epicenter of all-things right locally – was taking pictures of individuals and making a written list of the names of those he knew. He even tried to bait a few passers by, challenging their right to entitlement programs or their “socialist” demonstration. Nobody bit. (more…)

L87

L87

The adopted map

 

And redistricting in Idaho is, apparently, about done: The commission on Friday adopted a plan, L87, by unanimous vote:

The legalistic requirements seem to be met fairly cleanly: The highest population deviation reported is -5.24%. Not bad.

Looking around the map, a few impressions ...

Overall, Democrats should be reasonably happy. They should like the Coeur d'Alene-area, and Moscow and Lewiston-based, districts, which are clearly drawn and surprisingly compact. The Boise-area districts are in generally not bad for them either, and they got mostly what they wanted in the Blaine County and Pocatello areas as well. Some of the Boise-area Democrats were thrown into more problematic districts with a Republican or two (notably the three in District 16). Still, it's better than they had good reason to expect.

People in the two districts that have generated complaints - the Owyhee/Twin Falls district in the southwest, and the Franklin-Bear Lake-Caribou-Bonneville-Teton district in the southeast - will get less satisfaction, because those districts largely remain in place. We will hear complaints form those quarters that the districts they have disliked (with reason) for the last 10 years will be extended another 10.

In fact, taken as a whole, this map looks a great deal like the current one (and not tremendously like the map proposed by the former outgoing commission). It almost seems as if the commission took a leaf from Oregon, starting with the current map and just tweaking it as necessary.

A large batch of legislators will confirm, though, that it isn't an exact match: A lot of them were thrown together in districts with more incumbent legislators than available seats. They include the House speaker and majority leader - You can say this about the plan: The powerful got no special protection.

Senate matchups (drawn largely from blog reports of the Spokesman-Review's Betsy Russell):

District 1: Sens. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle
District 11: Sens. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, and Melinda Smyser, R-Parma
District 16: Sens. John Andreason, R-Boise, and Les Bock, D-Boise
District 20: Sens. Shirley McKague, R-Meridian, and Chuck Winder, R-Boise
District 23: Sens. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, and Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home

House:

District 5: Reps. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries; Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow; and Tom Trail, R-Moscow
District 8: House Speaker Lawerence Denney, Reps. Carlos Bilbao, Judy Boyle, Ken Roberts (assistant majority leader), Steven Thayn
District 14: Reps. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle; Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian; Mike Moyle, R-Star House Majority Leader)
District 16: Reps. Max Black, R-Boise; Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise; Elfreda Higgins, D-Boise
District 23: Reps. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home; Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls; and Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry
District 24: Reps. Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls; Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls; Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls
District 30: Reps. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls; Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls; Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls

By my count, 33 legislators will be tossed into these uncomfortable spots - just under a third of the legislature. And that means a lot of seats will be open, too.

Odds are, in any event, this is it.

The highest ends

Of note: The spots in the Northwest that are the costliest to live, at least in terms of median hosing prices.

Forbes magazine put together a list of the 500 most expensive zip codes in the country. Four from Washington made the list, two from Oregon, none from Idaho.

Highest-ranking at 46 was Medina, Washington (across Lake Washington from Seattle), with a median home price of $2 million (boosted a bit no doubt by Bill Gates' waterfront spread). The other three from the Evergreen: 209 - Mercer Island (median $1 million), 235 - Seattle 98112 (median $957,079) and 247 - Bellevue 98004 (median $938,940).

The two from Oregon: 401 Arch Cape on the coast (median $749,500 and 483 Lake Oswego (median $676,410).

Nothing shocking there, just worthy of note.