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Posts published in April 2012

Cross-endorsers

Idaho will have a lively primary season with lots of contests at the legislative level (and in cases elsewhere), and maybe nowhere more than in the Panhandle, where an array of Republican groups, each proclaiming itself the real conservative spokespeople, are beginning to weigh in.

The Kootenai County Reagan Republicans listed their endorsements a little while ago. Some more Tea Party-oriented people have gotten into a more ideological swing, urging the ouster of a number of incumbent Republicans in the area, including the three from District 1.

Today the North Idaho Political Action Committee released its endorsement list. You might call them less ideological, more pragmatic; the idea of "less conservative" certainly would not make sense. Their leaders including Sandy Patano, who worked for many years for former Senator Larry Craig and was for a long time a leader in the state Republican organization; and former state legislator and area businessman Dean Haagenson.

They endorse, among others, the three incumbents in District 1. And for District 2, their statement had this to say: "NIPAC has identified the primary race for Idaho House seat 2B, currently held by Phil Hart, as its highest priority in the May Republican primary. There are four candidates vying for the seat, and NIPAC is concerned that such a fractured field greatly assists the re-election of Mr. Hart. Unified support for Ed Morse is the best way to restore integrity and accountability to the position."

Hart, you may recall, is the incumbent legislator doing battle over his tax payments, or lack thereof. Among other things.

The battle is joined.

OR: A little 4th history

An indication of the lower-key level of Oregon major-office races this year: We just received a fundraising letter from Senator Jeff Merkley, who's up for re-election in 2014. None of the congressional office races at this point have the feel of being nailbiters.

OR political field guide
Based on material from the upcoming Oregon Political Field Guide

The most interesting of the bunch may be in the Oregon 4th, the seat in the southwest corner of the state, which was in 2010 plenty lively and - since the candidates in the general election at least are slated to be the same - is apt to be again this time. The incumbent is Democrat Peter DeFazio, who has held the seat for a very long time, since 1986. But what does history tell us about the seat?

It was once more Republican than at present - it has in the past included Republican Linn County - but in the last decade it has had a Democratic registration edge. The Democratic registration margin between late 2010 and February this year (the latter number: Democrats 39.85%, Republicans 33.26%) actually diminished very slightly, but when registration kicks in at Corvallis, much of which was added to the district with redistricting, it is likely to grow.

DeFazio has been a formidable vote-getter. The record is that with the exceptions of his first general election in 1986 and his most recent in 2010, he has gotten landslides every time out - his low point being 61.05% in 2004. Twice, in 2008 and 1990, Republicans passed on filing against him (in which cases he took 83% and 86% of the vote, respectively).

He has had nine different Republican opponents, three (counting Robinson) opposing him twice. How did the other pairs of races do?

Jim Feldkamp filed in 2004 and held DeFazio to that 61.05% win, which encouraged him to try again. But in 2006 he did not as well, taking almost exactly the same percentage of the vote, but DeFazio actually increased his share (meaning less went to minor candidates). One difference between the two races: DeFazio and Feldkamp reported almost exactly the same amounts in fundraising in 2004, but two years later DeFazio increased his total while Feldkamp raised less (resulting in a DeFazio edge approaching two to one).

The other rerun challenger was Republican John Newkirk in 1994 and 1996. Newkirk, who was heavily outspent, actually dropped in his raw vote total from 1994 (an off-year) to 1996 (a presidential), while DeFazio gained.

Not a lot of encouragement there for the idea of a stronger run the second time around.

DeFazio's closest general election for Congress remains his first, in 1986, against Republican Bruce Long: He was held to a 54% win. That was also the only race, at least until recently, in which DeFazio was outspent (about $333,000 to about $295,000).

His next-closest was the 2010 Robinson race, in which Robinson and DeFazio each reported raising almost exactly the same amount of money - about $1.3 million (much more than any candidate had ever raised in this district before) - but where hundreds of thousands of dollars was also thrown into the race on Robinson's behalf by an independent committee. In that Republican year, with money stacked against him, FeFazio was held to 54.59%.

Robinson's re-entry (and that of his son in the Democratic primary) may make for another live-wire contest. But his early fundraising has been so-so; DeFazio hgas been out-raising him nearly 2-1, and the outside funding that so influenced the 2010 race hasn't materialized yet. Often, when it comes to second races, those kinds of external supports are harder to get. But this may be the best watch this year among Oregon's U.S. House seats.

Wolf hunting, close up

It's long been our thought that the policy reintroducing wolves to parts of Idaho and the west was a mistake - not just because of the impact the wolves might have on other animals and on people, but because of the impact on the wolves themselves. And beyond that, what people turn themselves into as a result.

wolf trap
"Pinching" and the bloody, slowly dying wolf/from www.trapperman.com

You can see some of that directly in the picture, reproduced from the site trapperman.com, showing a hunter with the handle "pinching" seemingly having a wonderful time as an agonized wolf behind him leaves his blood in the snow, suffers and slowly dies. Is, a good many web writers have said, simply tortured to death. A detailed account can be found on the Earth Island site.

"Pinching" (who happens to be a Forest Service employee at Grangeville) remarked of the kill: "No rub spots on the hide, and he will make me a good wall hanger.”

In a followup, the Idaho Statesman's Rocky Barker notes that "Idaho Department of Fish and Game official said the trapper broke no laws. The trapper had all of the necessary permits, permission from the landowners and he had participated in the mandatory wolf trapping class, conservation officers found when they investigated. “They couldn’t find that he did anything illegal,” said Mike Keckler, Fish and Game communications chief. Had the trapper followed guidance provided in the trapping class he would not have photographed himself with the live-trapped animal, Keckler said."

Idahoans may find out what happens when that admonition isn't followed. Don't be surprised if the picture goes viral, and begins a visual definition of wolf hunting. A number of wolf hunters may object that they don't act that way, that they go for a humane kill rather than something like this. But comments from a string of public agencies say that there's no law against what you see in this picture. So there we are.

OR: At-risk in the House by registration

In a 30-30 state House like Oregon's, with an election coming up, every seat matters. A lot. So who's sitting on the hot seats?

You can look at this from various directions, not all of them strictly statistical. Such matters as quality of candidates, gaffes and other negatives and the strength of a challenge matter. And, of year, money too. But party identification, in these very partisan times, matters a whole lot, and one useful place to start may be a look at what legislators are representing the most politically divided districts - or districts in which the other party has a registration advantage. (The registration numbers are those for February, posted by the Oregon Secretary of State's office.)

OR political field guide
Based on material from the upcoming Oregon Political Field Guide

In that last category, of legislators who have partisan minorities in their districts, there are six, all Republicans.

By this standard, the single most endangered Republican should be Katie Eyre Brewer of Hillsboro, in District 29. The district has a Democratic edge of 6.62%, and Brewer won with 53% in a relatively low-turnout year. She pulled a record Republican vote in this district, but Democrats exceeded her raw totals both in 2008 and 2004; and this year, like those, is a presidential. She's at high risk.

The second most endangered Republican on this list would be Patrick Sheehan, of Clackamas, in House District 51. This district (well, its analogue before redistricting) was Republican a decade ago, and decisively into 2006, but clearly Democratic in the last two cycles - presently by a margin of 6.47%. Sheehan won his first term in 2010 with a respectable 54.57%, but his vote total was lower than the last Republican there, Linda Flores, had two years before that when she lost the seat. If turnout is up this year, Sheehan could be at big risk.

Brewer and Sheehan both represent districts with higher Democratic edge than the district held by the top-ranking House Democrat, Arnie Roblan of Coos Bay.

The other four Republicans in tough terrain are Shawn Lindsay of Hillsboro (District 30), Mark Johnson of Hood River (District 52), Jason Conger of Bend (District 54) and Julie Parrish of West Linn (District 37). All but Parrish unseated Democrats in the Republican tide year of 2010.

And it should be noted that the comparisons aren't totally apples and apples, since the districts have been redistricted. But in most cases that doesn't seem likely to make a big difference.

If that sounds like the makings of a Democratic target list, who should be the Democrats on the Republican short list?

There are no Democrats representing Oregon House districts with Republican registration leads. The closest would be District 9 - the Coos Bay district Roblan, the current House co-speaker, is leaving to run for the Senate. That district could have the makings of a serious contest.

After that, the going gets tougher. The Democrat in the next most marginal district is Deborah Boone (of Cannon Beach) in District 32 (Democratic edge: 8.8%), based in Clatsop County. She had a close race in 2010 (winning with 52.31%), but won easily earlier; and her new district should be more helpful to her than the old one was.

The next three districts in relatively small Democratic advantage are districts 40 (an open seat, with Dave Hunt's departure for a county race), 50 (Greg Matthews of Gresham) and 22 (Betty Komp of Woodburn). None look like easy catches.

In a race where such large results can turn on small conditions, the future of the Oregon House is far from settled. Based on party registration, Democrats have an early advantage.

What about other measure?

Carlson: Elder Larry EchoHawk

carlson
Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Idahoans of all persuasions, political as well as religious, should congratulate their former attorney general on his call to serve as a general authority and a member of the LDS Church’s First Quorum of the Seventy. It is an honor long overdue.

EchoHawk, 63, was also the 1994 Democratic nominee for governor, but lost narrowly to former Lt. Governor Phil Batt. The Wilder State Senator won 52% to 48% giving EchoHawk the distinction of being the first Native American to come close to being elected governor.

EchoHawk, a Pawnee, is currently the Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. To know Larry is to like him. He’s just one of those truly fine people all too rare nowadays.

Quiet, competent, hard-working, analytical and dedicated to supporting his wife and sons, he walks the talk of “faith, family and friends.” Educated at Brigham Young, he was a star defensive back on the Cougar football team and two sons were also star players, one at the Y, the other at ISU.

The sons obtained their own law degrees and set up law offices in Pocatello. The former U.S. Marine has spent time as an “of counsel” member of that firm and has represented the Fort Hall Sho-Bans in the past.

Given the prominent position Native Americans hold in the Mormon story (Saints believe today’s native Americans are descendents of the two “lost tribes” of Israel and that Christ appeared before them in the New World), it is surprising EchoHawk was not named sooner. There are some who expect he will eventually be named one of the 12 Apostles who serve as the “board” to the LDS president and his two first councilors.

As most know it is a gerontocracy that runs the LDS Church, but at 63 Larry is thought to be a “youngster.”

EchoHawk is only the second Native American named to the First Quorum of the Seventy and as such, carries the additional burden into this ecclesiastical office of having to redress the image left by the first Native American, Navajo George Lee, who served 14 years before being excommunicated for apostasy and conduct unbecoming a member of the church. (more…)

This week in the Briefings

[caption id="attachment_6633" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Seattle Police Chief John Diaz talks about the proposed policy changes the department plans in the wake of federal inquiries."][/caption]

The legislature ended its yearly work in Idaho, but plodded on in special session in Washington. And the region was awash in rain. Some of the mountains were re-packed with snow (the point of the Oregon edition's cover).

Seattle saw a response from the city to federal concerns about police department policies on use of force and related issues. (That's the police chief in the Washington briefing cover picture above, explaining those responses.)

If you'd like to see a full copy of the briefing, just drop us a line at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.