Because leaders in the Idaho Senate opted on Friday to adjourn for the day, so some members could get going back home for the weekend, they ran out of time for voting on one of the most contentious bills of the session – a bill requiring an ultrasound before a woman, including victims of rape and incest, could terminate her pregnancy. That means the Senate floor vote, on the measure sponsored by Senator Chuck Winder, R-Boise, likely will happen this week, after members have had a chance to hear about it from constituents.

They are likely getting an earful.

Similar measures have popped up in legislatures around the country, and a lot of them are stalling or being walked back after infuriated reaction has set in – a lot of it, though by no means all of it, from women. And by no means all in liberal areas. The Twin Falls Times News has a poll up on its site asking readers whether they support the bill. With about 1,400 responses in (as of Sunday evening), the vote was 68% no, 32% yes. The Times News is not based in a liberal part of Idaho.

And we’d probably not be reading too much into noting that Winder’s legislative blog, which this session has been kept regularly up to date with fresh posts, has been silent since March 9 – just before the ultrasound measure surfaced. Winder’s campaign page on Facebook has been swamped by critical comments over the last week.

All of this has been bringing back to mind the session of 1990, the bitter legislative session when lawmakers passed, and then-Governor Cecil Andrus vetoed, what would have been the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. For years after that legislators stepped gently in the area of abortion, because of what happened in the elections in Idaho later that year: A batch of legislators who were key backers were defeated or nearly lost for re-election, in some of Idaho’s most conservative precincts. The bill’s main Senate sponsor, Roger Madsen, who represented one of the most conservative Republican legislative districts in Ada County, was defeated that year by a Democrat. The abortion debate wasn’t, probably, the whole reason for the results that year, but clearly it was a key factor.

Could something like that happen this year? We can’t really know for quite a while; the elections are a ways off yet. But we can say this: The legislative setup for such a perfect storm, the prerequisite, is certainly in place. The anger over the requirement set up in the bill is larger and getting larger, rapidly. And we can also say this: The candidate field for legislative offices this year is unusually large.

Something interesting might be happening.

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Material from a White House press release – about Idaho – seems worth quoting at some length, as a usually unspoken counterpoint to a pounded and re-pounded political point within the state.

There’s little counter-article in Idaho to the idea that the Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” in political-speak – is a tyrannical horror. Few specifics about the horrors are ever offered.

The White House press release does have some specifics about the counter point of view. (It’d be interesting to hear how these specifics constitute freedom-robbing terrors.) From it:

Health reform is already making a difference for the people of Idaho by:

Providing new coverage options for young adults. Health plans are now required to allow parents to keep their children under age 26 without job-based coverage on their family’s coverage, and, thanks to this provision, 2.5 million young people have gained coverage nationwide. As of June 2011, 11,736 young adults in Idaho gained insurance coverage as a result of the new health care law.

Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors. Thanks to the new health care law, 16,559 people with Medicare in Idaho received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. In 2011, 14,963 people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. This discount resulted in an average savings of $579 per person, and a total savings of $8,665,605 in Idaho. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole.

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay. In 2011, 153,007 people with Medicare in Idaho received free preventive services – such as mammograms and colonoscopies – or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. And 54 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 283,000 in Idaho.

Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule. Under the new health care law, insurance companies must provide consumers greater value by spending generally at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of overhead, executive salaries or marketing. If they don’t, they must provide consumers a rebate or reduce premiums. This means that 463,000 Idaho residents with private insurance coverage will receive greater value for their premium dollars.

Removing lifetime limits on health benefits. The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 566,000 residents, including 198,000 women and 173,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.

Creating new coverage options for individuals with pre-existing conditions. As of the end of 2011, 316 previously uninsured residents of Idaho who were locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now insured through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the new health reform law. To learn more about the plan available in Idaho, check here.

Supporting Idaho’s work on Affordable Insurance Exchanges. Idaho has received $21.3 million in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of Affordable Insurance Exchanges.

$1 million in Planning Grants: This grant provides Idaho the resources needed to conduct the research and planning necessary to build a better health insurance marketplace and determine how its exchange will be operated and governed. Learn how the funds are being used in Idaho here. $20.3 million in Exchange Establishment Grants: These grants are helping States continue their work to implement key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Learn how the funds are being used in Idaho here.

Preventing illness and promoting health. Since 2010, Idaho has received $4.6 million in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. This new fund was created to support effective policies in Idaho, its communities, and nationwide so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives.

Increasing support for community health centers. The Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to community health centers in all 50 states, including the 62 existing community health centers in Idaho. Health centers in Idaho have received $25.5 million to create new health center sites in medically underserved areas, enable health centers to increase the number of patients served, expand preventive and primary health care services, and support major construction and renovation projects.

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Washington has three open – meaning no incumbent running – U.S. House seats this year. (Could be more, theoretically, but probably not.) In one, the 1st district north and east of Seattle to Canada, lively primaries seem to be developing in both parties for what looks like a competitive congressional district.

In the other two, early indications are that one contender in each, Derek Kilmer in the sixth district and Denny Heck in the new 10th, both Democrats, may become slam dunks and start rehearsing their swearing-ins.

Businessman and TVW co-founder Heck, ironically, was defeated in 2010 running in the third district, an Olympia Democrat running in a districts where the political weight was in Clark County to the south. This year, Heck is running in a new district weighted around Olympia, a district so favorable for him he could almost have drawn it himself.

The new sixth district is not so terribly different from the old one as to be a preclusive lock for a candidate. But Kilmer, a state senator with a solid electoral track record in a marginal legislative district, seems to be emerging as the one major candidate to replace retiring Democrat Norm Dicks, the northwest’s most senior member of Congress. And many cycles have passed since Dicks has been seriously challenged.

Tacoma News Tribune columnist Peter Callaghan, while not criticizing Kilmer at all, put some finer points on this in today’s column. He points out that since 1932, when the district was created, it has been “open” just twice, most recently 36 years ago. On that occasion, he writes, “Democrats picked from six candidates and Republicans from three. The fixers probably see that primary as a case study for what not to do because voters, not insiders, made the choice. But that’s the kind of thinking that has left Washington voters with an uninspiring primary this year. So far we have an open state governor race with no primary on either side and an open state attorney general race with no primary on the Democrat side and a marginal one on the Republican side.”

Sometimes even open seats aren’t really all that open.

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Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

A few years back the marketing folks at the Idaho Department of Commerce came up with the slogan “Idaho Is What America Was.” The idea was to capitalize on the notion Idaho had not yet been polluted/corrupted/spoiled by uncontrolled development, that we still had pure air, clean water, beautiful vistas and good, hard-working people who believed they could still achieve the American dream.

Mercifully, the slogan died a quiet death for it did not meet the basic test of verisimilitude – it did not resemble the truth. Rather it reflected the natural penchant folks have for creating myths and rhapsodizing about a time that never was.

Rather than looking back at a mythic place and time that never was, one might as well project ahead and ask if Idaho has become what a small demographically declining slice of the nation would like America to be: narrow-minded, self-centered, almost all white, intolerant, homophobic, anti-intellectual, litmus testing, teacher deprecating, anti-union, tax-dodging, flag-waving, anti-immigrant, head-in-the-sand, gun-toting, allegedly Christian believing but anti-Christian acting, paranoid, fear-mongering, hate-the government, pro-unregulated business, survival of the fittest, subsidize the rich because it trickles down, my way or the highway strict Constitutional constructionists most of whom call themselves Republicans?

From the standpoint of natural beauty and recreation Idaho is second to none. All those who love to fish, hunt, hike, backpack, float rivers, bike, bird, ski or take pictures realize how blessed we are. It is also filled with many good and decent people who without hesitation give the shirt off their back to anyone they see in need.

In the last 20 years, though, Idaho, from a political standpoint, started to get off track. Since the end of Phil Batt’s one fine term as governor the Gem state has headed in a downhill direction at an increasingly rapid rate.

It’s enough to make anyone despair for the wrong path after awhile looks almost impossible to turn around and away from. This is where perspective is needed.

Thankfully, from a demographic standpoint Idaho does not come close to being a microcosm of the nation. The narrow-minded, libertarian, government hating types say “good,” they don’t want to be like the rest. The challenge for sensible people living here is that we take this heavily Republican dominated state as the way the rest of the nation is not realizing how out of step Idaho is with what is really happening.

America is changing so fast and so dynamically it soon will be obvious to the most ardent Tea Party nut this state has been left in the dust. For Governor Butch Otter to say Idaho is the “new near normal” and what Idaho is should be what the rest of America wants to be is laughable on its face if it weren’t so sad that he and many others believe that balderdash.

Exacerbating this distorted sense of reality is the national media’s fascination with the Republican race for the presidential nomination, and Idaho, being such a Republican state, is awash in media hype compounded of course by Mitt Romney being the first serious Latter-Day Saint to have a plausible chance at being nominated and maybe even elected.

So let’s keep it all in perspective. Here are a few facts for perspective:

The nation is 63.7 percent white; Idaho is 86 percent white.

Self-identified Republicans are 45 percent of Idaho’s electorate, nationally, 32 percent.

A slight majority of the nation now supports same sex marriage while a majority in Idaho opposes it.

Idaho is one of the more church-going states, most of the nation and a clear majority is much more sporadic in actually attending church.

By a 66 percent to 26 percent margin the electorate supports the Federal requirement that private health care plans cover the full cost of birth control for female patients. A majority of Idahoans, especially Idaho women, agree.

Despite anti-government rhetoric, 16 percent of employed Idahoans work for some level of government.

Idaho still receives more from the Federal government than it pays in: $1.21 back for every $1 it pays according to latest Tax Foundation data.

No prominent Idaho Democrat has accepted a ride on Melaleuca chairman Frank VanderSloot’s private jet, while Governor Mitt Romney, Governor Butch Otter and Senator James Risch have.

And while at it, let’s keep the entire horse-race hullabaloo for the GOP presidential nomination in perspective also. The New York Times fine columnist, Tim Egan (a Spokane native) recently pointed out what a small fraction of America was engaged in that process. Those trying to pick the nominee he wrote are predominantly “old, white, uniformly Christian and unrepresentative of the nation at large.”

Bottom line is this: Idaho never was an America that never existed and what it is today never will be what America will become. Thank the good Lord.

CHRIS CARLSON is a former journalist who served as press secretary to Gov. Cecil Andrus. He lives at Medimont.

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Idaho, which overall has a moderate set of tax rates and has been tightly-stretched on its budgets, had placed before it a proposed increase on the cigarette tax. Idaho’s cigarette tax, at 57 cents per pack, is well below nearby states – a small fraction of what it is in Washington and Oregon – and one of the lowest in the country.

The proposal was put before the House Revenue and Taxation Committee with the support of Chair Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot. The committee this morning voted 11-5 to not even hold a hearing on it.

From the Associated Press report on the meeting: “Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, doubted that smoking was really that harmful to people’s health, citing how his own mother smoked for about 82 years. “Just because you smoke doesn’t mean you are going to be ill,” Harwood said.”

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26

By my count, Idaho Democrats have not (yet – there’s still primary opportunity to fill spots) filed candidates for all but 26 out of the 105 legislative seats.

That’s a goodly number, but it’s actually a good deal better than in the last couple of cycles – not much more than half as many free rides for Republicans as was the case two years ago, or two years before that. More seats have more Democrats running in them than usual. The Idaho Democrats did much better with candidate recruitment than usual.

Idaho candidate filing wrapped today, and there seems to be more candidates filing for the legislature than usual – in both parties. Not sure what that portends.

But take this as a reminder: In Oregon two years ago, the minority House Republicans filed for more seats than they historically had done, and wound up winning more seats than anyone had originally expected. Worth bearing in mind.

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We’ve just been going through the new Oregon voter registration stats (by party, for legislative districts – nearly complete numbers have just become available through the Secretary of State’s office), and noticed something of interest: The over-performance of Republicans in the last general election based on voter registration.

Republicans hold 14 of the 30 seats in the Oregon Senate, and 30 of 60 in the Oregon County – very nearly half across the board. Not consider this: Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats in just 10 of the 30 Senate districts, and in 23 of the 60 House districts. If voters voted strictly on party lines, Republicans would not be hitting close to half.

The state Democratic Party put it this way: “Democrats are poised to take back the House, with excellent candidates set to run against vulnerable Republicans in key districts. There are eight current Republican-held seats in which Democrats have a voter registration advantage, versus zero in the reverse.”

On Blue Oregon, Kari Chisholm wrote, “And voter turnout will be on our side, too. As I wrote way back in 2006, Democrats almost always win Oregon House seats in presidential years (one in ’88; none in ’92; two in ’96, ’00, ’04; and five in ’08.) Republicans are claiming that their slate of small business owners can pick up seats, but I’m not buying it.”

Although Republicans seem to have done a good job again on candidate recruitment, the Democrats seem to have the initial edge as both parties scramble for that one-plus seat needed to re-grasp control of the chamber.

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Two years ago about this time, not many people outside the Oregon Republican Party strategic circles would have thought very likely that Republicans would pick up enough state House seats to bring that party to 30-30 parity with the Democrats. There was a foreshadowing of it, though, on the Friday night speech session at the Dorchester conference. There, Republican leaders asked the candidates for the House to stand – and announced that they represented candidacies for all but three (or was it four?) of the 60 House seats.

That statistic was a hell of a marker, and what became clearer through the campaign season is that a lot of those candidates were, in addition, solid candidates, quality contenders and no mere placeholders. Republicans last cycle had the advantage of a favorable year in 2010, but their strong recruitment effort put them in position to take advantage.

This time? Now that we have the filings before us, we know that Oregon Republicans are giving free rides to Democrats in only four of the 60 House seats – a performance, based on the statistic at least, that could put them in good shape for the fall. Oregon Democrats, on the other hand, are giving Republicans free rides in eight seats.

Starting at a 30-30 tie, such things matter.

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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney did very well in last night’s Idaho caucuses. Unlike a bunch of other states that were close contests between him and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Idaho delivered big for its preferred candidate. Romney won 31 of Idaho’s 44 county caucuses. Santorum won seven and Representative Ron Paul six. Romney will get all of Idaho’s 32 delegates.

It was a big win far different from what happened in most other states on the same night, where Romney won some and Santorum won some, but neither, generally, by huge margins.

This brought to mind the Idaho caucus contest of 2008 – the Democratic (Idaho Republicans then, remember, voted in the primary). In that case, the contest nationally at the time was a fairly close battle between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Idaho gave Obama one of his biggest state wins anywhere en route to the nomination: 79.5%, winning 44 of the 45 county caucuses (Ada was split), and 15 of the state’s 18 delegates.

Does this say something about Idaho?

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Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Among the some 50 members of the Idaho Legislature, who have served notice of retiring or seeking another office, is one many consider virtually irreplaceable. She is State Rep. Wendy Jaquet, the Democrat from the 25th Legislative district that includes Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Lincoln counties.

My former Gallatin Group partner, Marc Johnson, said it best: “It’s tough duty to spend your entire career in the minority. It’s much more difficult to get things done and to be effective you have to work at least three times as hard. I do believe Wendy has been among the two or three most effective Democratic members of the legislature in the last 30 years. She did it the old-fashioned way—by hard work, mastering details, building relationships, displaying good humor and always playing for the long game. Lots of people in politics are ‘show horses.’ Wendy is a work horse and an effective one at that.”

On a recent trip to Boise I sat down with the all-everything for the Democrats to discuss what got her into politics and what drove her to endure so long and well.

Asking the “quintessential” question—“Which high school did you attend?”—quickly provided an insight into her core being. She attended Seattle’s Garfield High. I attended Spokane’s Central Valley High in the mid-60’s, and inevitably when we got to the state basketball tournament we ran into and got drubbed by Garfield.

Of course Garfield, being an inner city high school, had a racially diverse student body whereas CV was close to all lily white., So Garfield, for several years led by an extremely gifted African-American named Levi Fisher, sent us home whether in the first round or in the finals.

I asked Wendy if she remembered Fisher? She immediately starting humming the music played by Garfield’s pep band when the school’s team fell behind. The music almost always transformed the Garfield five into a virtually unstoppable juggernaut. The music was “Peter Gunn” from the television show.

And when the pep band started playing it with that eerie beat you knew you were dead. To me the piece resonated the word “relentless” which is as good a word as there is to summarize Wendy in one word.

Throughout all the years Wendy has labored in the public vineyards she has relentlessly pursued her goals, with humor, elan, and dedication born of the knowledge that she was striving always for the right outcome.

The almost 18-year legislative veteran got her start in politics working in San Francisco for now U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, before then Supervisor Feinstein inherited the Mayor’s post upon the assassination of Mayor George Moscone by a former member of the city council, Dan White, who then hunted down, shot and killed supervisor Harvey Milk.

Her husband, Jim, whom she met while both were attending the University of Washington (he graduated from Seattle’s Roosevelt High) had worked earlier for both Mayor George Alioto and Mayor Moscone. They came to Idaho in 1977 because Jim accepted an offer to become the city administrator in Ketchum, a post he held for 25 years.

While raising their two sons this energetic woman with a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in public administration took on and successfully managed for 13 years the Ketchum-Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce. With that post came an understanding and appreciation for the needs of small businesses as well as their crucial role in an area’s economy. If ever there was a true “business Democrat,” Wendy fits the bill.

Along the way Wendy garnered well-deserved awards recognizing her commitment to people and causes ranging from the arts to the environment, The bottom line though is she cares deeply about people and knows there is a legitimate role for government in assisting those who through no fault of their own need the assistance only a government can provide.

Over the years she has mentored many young women and even a few men willing to listen to her sage counsel. A summary of her legislative history fills pages listing successes against great odds as well as a fascinating list of draft legislation the Republican leadership would not even allow to be printed. Her support for a local option sales tax leaps out.

She suffered defeat all too often, but as Republican lawyer/lobbyist Ken McClure (son of the late Senator) pointed out “she knows how to disagree without being disagreeable.”

Joining her in leaving the legislature will be several others who due to their own hard work and dedication will also be missed: State Senators Diane Bilyeu (29th), Joyce Broadsword (2nd), Edgar Malepeai (30th), Nicole LeFavour, (19th), as well as State Rep. Brian Cronin (19th). And two fine, ethical, decent, intelligent Republican State Senators looked like they would be squaring off against each other until Denton Darrington (27th), the longest serving State Senator in Idaho history (16 terms) decided to retire rather than challenge his friend, Senate Finance chair Dean Cameron (26th).

As Johnson said, all are replaceable. There will be only one Wendy.

CHRIS CARLSON is a former journalist who served as press secretary to Gov. Cecil Andrus. He lives at Medimont.

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Oregon candidate filings ended just a couple of hours ago, and we’ll have a few thoughts dribbling out.

Starting with a statistical oddity: Exactly three candidates have filed in the primary election (there may be more from minor parties) for each of the five U.S. House seats. When has that happened before?

The five incumbents account for a third of them. In addition: Two Republicans in the 1st district, two Democrats in the 2nd, two Republicans in the 3rd, a Democrat and a Republican in the 4th, and two Republicans in the 5th. No really big, major figures among the challengers, and incumbents appear likely to, as usual, sweep the field.

Okay, an asterisk needs to be added to that. In District 4, where Democrat Peter DeFazio is running again, he has a primary election from Matthew L. Robinson, and (presumably) a general against Republican Art Robinson – the same Art Robinson who ran such a peculiar race against DeFazio in 2010. (Google away for the details on that; be such to note his calls for abolition of public schools and Social Security, among other things.)

There’s an obvious question: Is Matthew Robinson related to Art Robinson? Apparently, yes: He does have a son by that name. Which would make for an unusual case of a single family trying for two bites of the political apple in a single election …

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On the TV series Lost, one of the key lines was this: “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.”

So at a legislative session. Lots of discussion and, in news accounts, ink were devoted to discussions of how, especially in the last couple of weeks, the Oregon legislative session had gotten testy. Bills were being held hostage. The Republicans (last weekend) bolted for Dorchester. One legislator told another to shut her mouth. Key legislation that actually had widespread support might not clear. The budget wasn’t getting done.

The session closed out last night, and the end result was something else.

Governor John Kitzhaber wound up with everything he had asked for: Two major health bills and two major education bills, what was needed to keep sweeping initiatives in those areas on track. Republicans got bills on expanding enterprise zones (a good idea) and denying public access to concealed weapons records (not so good). Democrats got a bill through to help homeowners facing foreclosure. There was a bill to help with recovery of troubled stretches of the ocean off the Oregon coast. And more besides.

A month from now, the squabbles and the hostage-taking will be forgotten (other than by a few participants). The results will be remembered, and the results were substantial – more substantial, it appears now, than in the other state legislatures meeting at present. (Sessions in Washington and Idaho are ongoing.)

And it marks another productive legislative session in a state where, over the last decade, highly productive sessions (last year’s was another) have become the norm.

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One tendency in the ever-strange Republican presidential primary season has been this: When the words goes forth that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is “inevitable” as the Republican nominee, he tends to win. When something comes along and punctures that, even if briefly, he tends to lose.

Just ahead of Super Tuesday, Romney’s timing looks pretty good. He won, decisively, the caucuses in Washington state, and that wouldn’t necessarily have been a foregone conclusion. Those caucuses have gone for Mike Huckabee and Pat Robertson in times past. And other candidates, notably Ron Paul, have a significant presence in the state. But since the Michigan and Arizona primaries, there’s been a steady drumbeat that yes, really, we mean it this time, Romney will be the guy. And that may have helped him in Washington.

Speculation here is that this will spill over into Idaho tomorrow. Romney does have natural advantages in Idaho. Nearly all of the state’s Republican establishment, from the governor and senators on down, is in his camp, and the large portion of Idaho Republicans who are Mormon will largely be there too. (There’s even a small thread of Romney’s family history in southeast Idaho.) Substantial as all that is, it’s not necessarily enough.

But the environment is favorable too. Idaho Republicans heading to caucus – a new event for them in the Gem State – will be well aware of the national situation and, especially in northern Idaho, of Washington state’s too. A strong Romney win in Idaho looks like the probable outcome.

Will they fool us again?

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Among the regulatory items showing up in Monday’s edition of the Washington Weekly Briefing:

This bit of rule changing by the Washington Secretary of State’s office: “Documents received by fax are of poor quality, difficult to read, and must often be rejected due to illegibility, causing a delay in filing. Given that many more options exist today, such as e-mail, on-line submission, and overnight mail, the fax machine will be phased out of use.”

No argument here. We only rarely use ours any more (though it’s still connected). Just wondering how long it’ll be before nearly all governments do the same?

For more about the Briefing (or its Oregon and Idaho counterparts), see the box to the right.

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Norm Dicks

Norm Dicks is the senior Northwest member of Congress, in either chamber. Through, that is, the end of this year: He said this morning, in something of a surprise, that he will retire after that.

So, fairly late in the cycle, the newly-redistricted Washington 6th district seat comes open.

Dicks was trained in the Warren Magnuson shop, and very much comes from a time of greater civilty in Congress, and also out of the bringing-home-the-bacon era. The area around Tacoma and Kitsap County may not see so much bacon, much of it in the form of military developments, again for a long stretch.

A description in this morning’s Roll Call e-mail report: “Dicks, 71, has represented the Olympic Peninsula of Washington since 1977. He is one of the most powerful and influential military hawks in his party and has had the top Democratic seat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee since Jack Murtha died. Like so many others who are retiring this year, he comes from an era when collegiality and bipartisanship were viewed as congressional virtues — not dangerous or disingenuous. In a statement, Dicks summed up his 18-term career by declaring that he was proud of his ability to bridge “the ideological and party lines that tend to separate us, and I have always believed that we can achieve greater results if we leave politics aside when the election season and the floor debates are over.””

Dicks would have had an easy re-election; he has not had a close contest in a very long time. The new 6th House district generally covers the Olympic peninsula and Kitsap County, plus Gig Harbor and a slice of central Tacoma. Under most conditions, this will be a Democratic district. But there are Republican bases here, and substantial competitive areas – Kitsap is politically marginal, and much of what is Democratic is on the conservative side of Democratic – quite some distance from Seattle Democratic. (In that, Dicks was a realistic mirror of the district.)

Will be highly interesting to see who enters the races, as serious candidates are going to have to do quickly.

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