Writings and observations

Two Idaho mayoral races were well worth keeping an eye on for their partisan and ideological implications – both in conservative Republican cities in west Ada County.

Both featured established mayors, conservative and with Republican support, being challenged by contenders with more-conservative and more-Republican identification. In Meridian, that was two-term mayor Tammy de Weerd challenged by four candidates but mainly former state Senator Gerry Sweet, long a close ally of former U.S. Representative Bill Sali. In Eagle, that was incumbent Jim Reynolds challenged by Norm Semanko, a council member who (among other things) has been chairing the state Republican Party. Both challenges were serious and organized, and opinions about who would win varied.

In the end the mayors won, and it wasn’t close. Reynolds was running (with results not yet complete) at around 75%. De Weerd was running well over 50%, which means that she would have been re-elected without difficulty even had Sweet (who got about half as many votes as she did) not had to contend with all those other fellow challengers.

Boise Mayor David Bieter, by the way, was running at about 75% against a minor challenger.

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Idaho

The campaign to move sales and distribution of liquor from state agency management to private business was the big campaign issue of the cycle in Washington state, and very nearly in Oregon too. The word spreading around Oregon was that if the Washington proposal to privatize passed, and especially if it passed by a large margin, a similar attempt likely would be made in Oregon in the next year or two.

Well, it got the green light: As per polling (which called regional races with considerable accuracy this season), Washington voters gave thumping approval to moving liquor sales to private stores. The percentage, over the last hour, has been hovering around 60%, which is surely more than enough to convince Oregonians advocates that a similar idea might sell south of the Columbia.

It was also widespread approval. Of Washington’s 39 counties, all but five voted in favor. (And those five were an odd collection, generally small and rural – Cowlitz and Wahkiakum in the southwest, and Adams, Garfield and Asotin in the southeast). Counties red and blue, urban and rural, all signed on to the change.

More on this later. Definitely.

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Washington

It came in a normally Democratic district, so the win today of Democratic incumbent (newly appointed) Representative Sharon Wylie over Republican Craig Riley (a Republican legislative nominee in this district last year) isn’t a shock – it’s more or less what you would expect. That would be fair to say, too, about the 56.56% of the vote (at last count) Wylie has collected. (Riley has come closer to election than that a times in the past, however.)

Maybe what you could fairly say about that, is that the political norms in Clark are holding – no massive shift at the moment. Maybe a little less reflective, though, of 2010 than of some of the elections that preceded it.

This was, by the way, the only legislative race in the Northwest today featuring candidates of opposing parties.

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Washington

A few days ago, we wrote about the Senate 4 race in the Spokane area, which featured two Republicans facing off: “This race has some interest, since it features a new incumbent (Jeff Baxter) against a veteran legislator and judge active in office starting in 1981 (Mike Padden). Long-time experience or the new incumbent (“Jeff is not another career politician satisfied with the status quo”)?”

Who won? Padden did, with about 55.58% (at last count) of the vote. He was an experienced office holder, a legislator in the 80s and a judge for some years after that. Baxter was a relative newcome, albeit the incumbent.

An indicator maybe for next year’s legislative elections, so often interesting around Spokane? And how to balance against Spokane voters’ narrow ouster of their mayor?

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Washington

The guess here is that three months ago, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner would have won a second term – but then, campaigns are often won an lost in the final few weeks. And that, as we suggested a few days ago might happen here, did happen. Verner did not become suddenly unpopular, but the campaign around her opponent, David Condon, really seemed to coalesce.

Condon won the backing of the local Republican organization (though this is a non-partisan seat – but in so many cases around the Northwest, in all sorts of cities, who are we kidding?) and the Spokesman-Review, and pulled in big contributions toward the end. There were allegations of what sound like push polling. In the last week, maybe two, this outcome – a close one, with Condon pulling ahead at the end – isn’t a surprise.

How much it may indicate beyond city hall, say in next year’s legislative races, is less clear. But then, we might draw better clues from the District 4 Senate election (which see).

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Washington

A while back, around the start of voting in Oregon 1, we threw out a kind of alternative scenario – what seemed like a plausible option to the general view that the major party nominations would go to Democrat Suzanne Bonamici and Republican Rob Cornilles. We thought the alt view was less than likely, but – hey, you never know. Upsets happen.

But it was no great surprise in the Oregon 1st, as it turns out – not a surprise at all. The polling, which we did think seemed a little off-kilter, wound up correct in projecting a big win for state Senator Bonamici. (There was less public polling on the Republican side, but a Cornilles win was widely expected.) Despite low voter turnout, the races on both sides wound up not dominated by party activists.

With about two-thirds of the vote in, Bonamici was taking about two-thirds of the vote; her closest competitor, state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, was at about 20%. It was a widespread win. But for the favorite-son vote in Columbia County for contender Brad Witt, she would have pulled upward of 60% in every county in the district. Cornilles’ win was similarly uniform.

The primary was not super-heated or especially high profile. As the contest moves into the general stage, with election in a little under three months, that looks likely to change.

ADDED NOTE The number of votes in the Democratic contest was 56,580. The Republican candidates combined got 40,933. That means the Democrats took 58.02% of the votes cast in the two primaries. This is not a predictor or a super-clear indicator – the contest on the Democratic side was more visible and organized than on the Republican. But it’s still worthy of note as an indicator of what sort of terrain the 1st is.

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Oregon