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Posts published in October 2011

1st poll in the 1st, but …

The first polling - the first to go public at least - in the Oregon 1st district Democratic contest, is out. It indicates a massive lead for state Senator Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton. (It apparently was not done specifically for a candidate but for Emily's List, which is backing Bonamici.) From the National Journal today:

The first poll in the race, obtained from a Democratic source, shows Bonamici with a 24-point lead over her two closest opponents. Bonamici takes 34 percent of the vote, while state Rep. Brad Witt registers at 10 percent. Oregon state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian is in single digits with 8 percent.

When the candidates' biographies are listed, Bonamici's lead widens to 29 points, and she has the highest favorability of all the candidates. Bonamici, a former consumer protection attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, is the only candidate currently on TV. ... The poll was conducted by Grove Insight for EMILY's List from September 26-28, and surveyed 400 likely Democratic primary voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.

If the poll is an accurate reflection of the electorate, then the primary is as good as done. But is it?

Bonamici is a strong candidate. If she wins the primary, that would be no great shock. Her two opponents are more in the line of dividing a common base of core support (labor and related interests), and she's one woman running against two men - not a bad structural advantage. And her campaign looks plenty strong. A poll showing her in the lead would not be surprising.

These poll numbers, though, suggest not just a lead but a massive blowout. Avakian has held statewide office and been on the ballot statewide. He was in the race two months longer than Bonamici - about twice as long - and his political history in Washington County goes back further than hers. He has been, on balance, no more controversial than Bonamici. (Supporters of each would argue about the merits of the issues bedeviling each, but as negatives they come close to a wash.) As to matters of issue and ideology, they have some distinctions but are not terribly far apart; both has been mainstream Democratic caucus members in Salem. Bonamici has been on the air with one commercial, a good one but not a rock-your-world kind of message, not enough to massive shake up the district.

So a poll showing her not just in the lead but with 34% and him with 8% (and the third candidate, state Representative Brad Witt, at 10%) has some 'splainin' to do.

Carlson: Best advice I ever got

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

All of us are familiar with various “parlor games” people pursue, usually at a family holiday gathering; or, there is a relative who loves to ask leading questions and insist that everyone in the room respond. Often it is a very personal question. In our case, the bedeviling family member is my 12-years-younger sister, Linnea.

We call them “Linny Questions.” And often they are not necessarily easy ones to answer. I surprised her though when she asked the classic: “what was the best advice I was ever given or wished had been given to me?”

She probably thought her aging, pretentious brother would cite something from his favorite author, Joseph Conrad, or something from poet Rudyard Kipling’s “If,” but I didn’t.

The best advice I was ever given and glad I took was: “When you think you want to get married, be sure and take a good look at your prospective mother-in-law because more than likely that’s your wife in 20 years. If you like what you see, you’ll know you will still like your wife in 20 years and you’re making a good choice. If you don’t like what you see, run like hell the other way!”

Unfortunately, I cannot recall who gave me such wise counsel, but what’s important is I followed it. Forty-one years later I still like what I see. I couldn’t have found a better mother-in-law, and indeed my wife has become more like her which leaves me doubly blessed. (more…)

Redrawing Lane

For all that Eugene, and Lane County, is often thought of simply as a Democratic stronghold, the reality is more complicated. It is true that in major races, the weight of the county's vote ordinarily goes Democratic, often by a large percentage. But more locally, contests are often more competitive, especially when party labels are not visible (as for nonpartisan local government offices).

So the effort to redraw the Lane County Commission districts, five of them, becomes a complex undertaking. Based on party registration and typical voting patterns, you might expect three Democratic-leaning districts, and two Republican-leaning. But that conclusion isn't foregone, since a large part of the Democratic vote is concentrated in the University of Oregon district and in south Eugene, and near the downtown area. Much of the rest of Eugene, and most of Springfield, ranges from gently Democratic to simply competitive, to increasingly Republican in the landscape becomes more rural.

With all that in mind, take a look at the commission redistricting maps the Eugene Register-Guard has posted. Note that some plans (like scenario 2) have three compact districts, and a couple of large rural ones. And that others, like scenario 6, have more puffed-out center districts that reach more into the rural area. Which do you think might be endorsed by each party?

The R-G story notes that "Board members have said there’s no place for politics in the process." Good luck with that.

McGee’s tipping point?

Idaho state Senator John McGee, R-Caldwell, has generated quite a string of negative headlines this year. Now one more apparently is on its way.

This one comes via Dennis Mansfield, the conservative Republican (former congressional and legislative candidate) who goes his own way on any number of matters. To this point, Mansfield raised the question of whether McGee, convicted some months back of DUI, should quit. With the latest, he specifically calls for resignation:

Because along with ALL those other things, I was told today by two very reputable sources that John McGee as a part of GOP Senate Leadership last year agreed to fire a key administrative secretary in the Idaho State Senate because she had been arrested on a DUI. (I am keeping her name anonymous for her sake and for her reputation.) BTW, she did not contact me, nor did anyone connected to her.

Senator McGee joined with GOP Leadership when they apparently announced to the Senate and others that this young secretary's firing had been brought about because of "behavior unbecoming the Idaho State Senate"

That point alone tips the scales for me.

We'll keep watch to see what response develops.

UPDATE There's more, in the form of some comments from Senate President pro tem Brent Hill and Senator Chuck Winder. Hill says the secretary had a second DUI atop the first, and that those might not have been the only factors involved in her case; and that she was not fired - though there was an implication that she was strongly encouraged to leave. Which makes her case harder externally to judge (given the limited number of facts available), but still suggests that there should have been some more sensitivity in the case of a legislator, who should be held to a higher standard.

Dodging the fires

For a second year, the Northwest seems to have mostly avoided the large wildfires that were such a plague only a few years ago.

The weather has to have a lot to do with it: The heavy rains earlier this year, substantial snowpacks and the summer that didn't really get underway until around Independence Day. Washington has been unusually lucky, with only a few substantial fires, mainly in the northeast. Oregon and Idaho have done nearly as well, though the fires circling Bend early last month were fierce enough to send their smoke across the Cascades. And Idaho has had some significant blazes, though of moderate size and generally well off from human habitation (many in remote areas in the region near Salmon).

Current federal wildfire mapping indicates four fires in Idaho, two in Oregon, none in Washington.

Some of this was luck, though. An Oregonian article out today notes that a massive area of the Fremont-Winema National Forest in southwest Oregon (around the Klamath Falls area) has been hit by pine beetles which have damaged immense stands of trees across 300,000 acres. "Foresters and firefighters held their breath when lightning storms swept through in August, sparking numerous fires but sparing the Fremont-Winema," the paper said.