Writings and observations

The new closed primary in Idaho seems to have had one of the effects a lot of people expected: Turnout is down. People professional expected to be neutral, like journalists and judges, are voting in smaller numbers. And a lot of other people, disgusted at having to declare a party identification, took a pass too.

But one of the other anticipated effects – the idea that relatively extreme challengers would be knocking out lots of Idaho legislators – seems not to be materializing.

Look up in District 1, the first north Panhandle district, where all three Republican legislators – Senator Shawn Keough and Representatives Eric Anderson and George Eskridge – were challenged from, probably you could say, the right. (A local Tea Party leader, Pam Stout, who had some national visibility, opposed Eskridge.) The challenges were energetic and well-publicized. All three incumbents seem to be surviving their challenges with strong votes.

Just south of them, Republican Representative Shannon McMillan was challenged by two primary opponents, one of them a former candidate for governor and senator – Rex Rammell. As this is written, she’s at 54.4% of the total vote, well over as many as the other two combined.

A challenge to House Republican Caucus Chair Ken Roberts – one underwritten in part by fellow House Republican leaders – seems to have fallen well short.

A challenge from the libertarian-oriented Maurice Clements to Senator Patti Anne Lodge went nowhere; she won in a landslide.

And so it went around the state.

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Idaho

Early results are showing results sure to make a lot of local government people – and a lot of business people, civic leaders and others too – cringe:

The public safety levy in Josephine County is failing, decisively, with 57% of the vote.

We wrote about this one in a post on May 11, and why this is more than just another local tax levy. Briefly, Josephine (the seat is Grants Pass) is one of those counties heavily reliant on federal timber money which is now, largely, gone. Several other counties nearby, including Curry and Coos, are in a similar boat.

Josephine (and Curry, and Coos) do have the lowest property tax rates in Oregon, so that might suggest where some replacement revenue might come from. Josephine backers put it in a frame that would seem to be hard to resist. County law enforcement would be cut to almost nothing without new revenue; the jail could hold hardly any prisoners. Not some liberal group but a conservative Republican state legislator (Wally Hicks) and local Republican elected officials were helping lead the effort to pass a small-scale tax increase that would be dedicated exclusively to law enforcement. Quite a bit of the local business community, and other activists, seem to have signed on.

But 57% thought otherwise. Might be interesting to see what they think, say a year from now, about what their decision has wrought – not only for themselves but also, likely, for Curry and Coos.

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Oregon

The weight of indicators seemed to be pointing toward a win for Attorney General in the Democratic primary – which may be determinative – for Ellen Rosenblum over Dwight Holton, and so it seems: She has 63.3% of the vote as this is written.

A lot of the discussion, as efforts ran to find distinctions between the candidates (who didn’t seem to differ on a whole lot of things), centered on medical marijuana, of which Rosemblum seemed to be somewhat more supportive. The weasel words are intentional; the perception may or may not be close to reality. Maybe that issue accounts for some of the result, and surely the pro-pot contingent will take heart from the result.

Another factor may have played in as well, though, and one watcher suggested in the last few days. Holton is a close friend of outgoing AG John Kroger, who has had a string of problems and wound up dissatisfying a number of people in various arenas of law, from criminal to political-related investigations. And the matter of leaving office this summer, before his term is up, may be excusable but may not sit too well. Maybe some portion of the voters were also calling for a sharp break from the current administration.

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Oregon

Well, now we have a little better idea which polls not to watch.

Tonight’s Portland mayoral race, which technically features about two dozen candidates, really comes down to a matter of two out of three, the three being former Council member Charlie Hales, legislator Jefferson Smith and business executive Eileen Brady. Since none have been likely to get as much as 50% of the vote, the question is which two of the three progress on to November.

Some polls, going back more than a week, suggested that Hales seemed to be losing steam (which fed our post of May 13). Several polls since then seemed to show him in much stronger position.

Those later polls seem to have caught it: Hales is in a decisive first place position, with Smith in second and Brady trailing.

Brady has spent on the campaign more money (about $1.1 million, according to recent estimates) as the other two candidates combined. You can call that another blow to the idea that campaign money is all when it comes to election results.

Then there’s this: Brady was the one woman running against two men, and the one political newcomer against two candidates with ballot background in the area. She seemed to get no more negative publicity than the other two. These factors might logically have resulted in at least a second-place finish, but not in this case. This will be pondered over for a while.

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Oregon

We begin sifting through this evening’s numbers with our first-check among the Oregon races: state House 48 (eastern Multnomah), in which Democratic Representative Mike Schaufler, who has cast some key votes with Republicans and otherwise has irritated a number of other Democrats, lost to challenger Jeff Reardon. To go by the early numbers, it isn’t close – more than 2 to 1.

This wasn’t really unexpected; we’d thought this result more likely than not. One tell may have been the large number of fellow Democratic legislators who backed Reardon; they wouldn’t have done that for a longshot.

A Republican, George Yellott, is also running, but Reardon seems well positioned for the fall. And Democratic caucus leaders may feel a little better.

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Oregon