Writings and observations

A few thoughts on the well-under-way Idaho candidate filings. Since they’re more than a week from completion – the deadline is next Friday – comments here won’t reflect what isn’t there, only what is.

First, 2nd district U.S. Representative Mike Simpson has a primary, from Idaho Falls resident John K. Baird, an agent at AFLAC insurance. Unclear at the moment how serious this is.

One legislative primary that will be plenty serious is the Senate 8 Republican, for an open seat. House member Steven Thayne, R-Emmett, is running, but so is a former House member, Christian Zimmerman, elected in 1996 and 1998. This could be a hot one.

At least one strong general election contest is in place: In District 6 for the Senate seat to which Republican Dan Johnson was recently appointed. Former District Judge John Bradbury, a well-known figure in the area, is running as a Democrat. This should be a fascinating race.

Three strong races are locked in as well in District 18 in southeast Boise, home to a number of the state’s recent closest contests.

More to come.

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What, specifically, was the motivation for the massive planned undertaking of rebuilding the Interstate 5 Columbia River bridge? Was the heavy traffic that periodically jams up (but actually is lighter than it was some years back)? Was it bridge deterioration (though other bridges around the region, ad eve in Portland, are in worse shape)?

Willamette Week points out something that most readers (us, unfortunately, among them) of the Oregon Supreme Court’s recent decision on the bridge missed: The original motivation for the whole billion-dollar project seems to have been extending light rail from Portland to Vancouver.

In the article “The $2.5 billion bridge,” the paper notes, “The massive Interstate 5 bridge and freeway project is a “political necessity” to persuade Clark County residents to accept something they previously didn’t want—a MAX light-rail line from Portland to Vancouver.”

Or, from the Court’s decision: “It was politically impossible for the light rail project to proceed without also building new interstate bridges across the Columbia River … Or as Metro later summarized it: ‘There is no light rail without the freeway bridge[s] being replaced.’”

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