"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

As you consider the Idaho primary election, put aside any thoughts of who was more or less “conservative”, whatever that may mean. Tone is more significant.

Many of the races had individual characteristics. The most striking races were challenger-against-incumbent, where the challenger rhetoric was common to many of the races (at least on the Republican side, where most of them were), and the background structure of the races mainly split into two types.

The rhetoric of the challengers tended to be overheated, even apocalyptic – so-and-so must be defeated or our freedom and liberty are at risk. “The downward spiral of our nation,” warned one House candidate. Or some such: Shrill rhetoric, shrill candidates.

Not all but many challenges fell into two overlapping structural categories: Coming from the inside, from established political people and forces, or outside, from people evidently angry about conditions in general. On election day in Idaho, both kinds of challenges failed.

(The one major case of two incumbents facing each other – the Senate primary in District 23, in which Bert Brackett defeated Tim Corder, falls in a different category.)

Regional Tea Party activists went after three Republican incumbents in District 1, in the far north Panhandle; one of them, Pam Stout, had a national Tea Party profile. None of the three challengers got even a third of the vote. A bit to the south, in District 7, the maverick one-time candidate for governor and senator Rex Rammell, took on incumbent Shannon McMillan, and got 30 percent for his trouble. Less shrill candidates running as outsiders didn’t fare well either. In the Senate District 10 seat, Kent Marmon got 31 percent against appointed Republican Jim Rice. In the eastern Magic Valley, Douglas Pickett did a little better (43.5 percent) against veteran Senator Dean Cameron, but still lost. And so on around the state.

Plus, there was internal warfare. Political Action Committees (PACs) led by veteran Boise-based activists and legislators including House Speaker Lawerence Denney and House Majority Leader Mike Moyle poured money into races against fellow leadership member Ken Roberts of Donnelly (that was a personal grudge with Moyle), Representative Christy Perry of Nampa and a string of others, including several targeted by Tea Party or other outsider candidates. Those efforts all failed. This is going to a happy group when they’re sworn in come December.

Not all primary challenges failed. Once departing incumbent was Republican Representative Phil Hart of Athol, he of highly visibler battles with tax collectors and other issues, but a Tea hero. He also had the advantage of three challengers, and multiple opponents are usually an incumbent’s best friend. But Hart lost, to Ed Morse, who was backed by a group of Republicans who might describe themselves as mainstream conservatives – relatively low-key, businesslike, in attitude.

We shouldn’t forget, though a lot of people seemed to, the rerun primary challenge in the 2nd U. S. House district, M.C. “Chuck” Heileson’s Tea-inspired hot-talk campaign against incumbent Republican Mike Simpson. In 2010 Simpson won his primary with 58.3 percent; this year, 69.6 percent.

Shrill may be not be working so well this year.

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A quick note: A Randy Stapilus column on Idaho politics starts running on Mondays, effective tomorrow, in the Twin Falls Times News.

And, in a nice piece of geographic pairing, I’ll be on KLIX-AM radio in Twin Falls, at 8:20 am Monday (Mountain Times). That’s just this Monday, that is.

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I don’t really know how many Idahoans have told me in the last month, especially before the primary election last week, that there was no way they were going to publicly declare or sign up with a political party. Not all but a lot of them were, well, known Democrats.

The widespread (and it does seem to be widespread) antipathy to the new party registration regime in Idaho looks to be especially strong left of center, not a great shock in a state dominated by Republicans. Voting patterns from last week seem to support that idea.

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa was quoted as saying, “In my opinion, the main reason for the decline in the turnout was attributable to the, for the first time, Idaho’s closed primary where people had to declare their party affiliation and make that a public record.”

His office hasn’t yet posted the number of ballots cast and the number of registered voters, from which turnout is calculated. But if you take his website’s estimate from not long ago of registered voters (about 742,000) and the “turnout” estimate of about 23%, then you come up with a number of cast ballots around 170,660. Since the total number of partisan ballots cast in the congressional primaries was 154,649, you get the suspect that even 23% could be a tad high.

You’d have to go back quite a way to hit a lower number for a primary election – back when Idaho’s population was smaller. In 2100, primary turnout was 203,013; in 2008, it was 182,627; in 2006 it was 184,456. Back in 2004 the ballots-cast number was similar (172,006) to this year, but that was an unusually boring primary season.

The diminished turnout, then, seems to be solidly established. Overall turnout was down about 29,000 from 2010 and about 8,000 from 2008, and about 6,000 from 2006. (Primaries in non-presidential years tend to bulge a little higher because most of the statewide officials are on the ballot then.)

There’s another interesting numbers question too, in a release from the Idaho Republican Party (whose efforts generated the registration system). Party rules Chair Ronald Nate offered the analysis that “Idaho Democrats have a problem. They are bleeding support. With all the speculation about the Republican’s move to closed primaries possibly hurting voter turnout; the actual vote totals tell a startling story.” (Note, before we move on, that he’s not disputing the idea of the system “hurting voter turnout,” but just drawing attention to something else.)

His numbers, which are accurate, are a mix of cherry-picking and something intriguing.

The argument is about the Democrats comes from votes cast in the congressional races, for Democratic candidates, amounting to 10,149 this year, compared with 24,698 in 2010 and 36,101 in 2008. That trajectory looks like a charge right off the cliff: At that rate, they’ll get no votes at all in 2014.

Broaden the picture a bit, though: In 2006 the Democratic congressionals drew 27,856, and in 2004 collected 25,741. 2008 looks like an aberration, explainable by the Obama enthusiasm at that time. A standard Democratic turnout of around 24-30,000 seems in place.

(That seems to be in the range of a fifth to a quarter of the Republican turnout, so there’s certainly a story here of Republican dominance in Idaho. And Republicans didn’t seem to mind registering nearly as much. Republican congressional votes, at 144,500, were down from the much hotter primary year of 2010, when 158,746 voted in those races. But this year’s Republican primary turnout, in the congressional races at least, was higher than in any year prior to 2010, so advocates within the party can legitimately crow about that.)

Except that this year, fewer than half as many voted, accounting for just about all of the decline in overall primary voter turnout. The Republican Party naturally argues that has something to do with Obama, but that doesn’t seem likely; presidential caucus turnout, even without a contests, was fairly strong among the Democrats, and Democrats generated a larger than usual number of candidates for office this year. Neither indicated a recent utter collapse (comparatively) among Democrats.

No, the more logical explanation is that Democrats, more than most others, rejected participation in the system. While it is true that only those voting in the Republican primary had to register with that party, it’s also the case that to vote at all, you had to “Fill out a new voter registration card, Fill out a Party Affiliation Declaration form, Declare a party [or non-affiliated] at the polls at the 2012 Primary Election.” And a lot of people just rejected that.

And we now have a pretty good idea of who did – and, for the most part, it doesn’t seem to have been Republicans.

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Among the groups registering pleasure or not after Tuesday’s voting was the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, who got heavily involved in a bunch of party primaries.

And it was very happy with the results. Its release today seems worth a quote at length.

Throughout Oregon, OLCV’s endorsed candidates in contested races won 14 races and lost only once – with two more races still to be decided in fall run-offs.

In the marquee race of the night, OLCV scored a huge win for the environment in House District 48 (SE Portland/Happy Valley). Future environmental champion Jeff Reardon overwhelmed incumbent Mike Schaufler by a wide margin – 66%-34%! During his time in the Legislature, Schaufler had earned a lifetime 57% on the OLCV Environmental Scorecard. From start to finish, the Reardon campaign ran an excellent race and OLCV couldn’t be more proud to have been a part of Jeff’s campaign.

Speaking of future environmental champions, OLCV had a clean sweep of our other targeted legislative races, with our candidates winning in HD 47 (East Portland), HD 36 (SW Portland), and HD 29 (Forest Grove/Cornelius/Hillsboro). Congratulations to Jessica Vega Pederson, Jennifer Williamson and Ben Unger!

But there’s more to celebrate than just our successes in legislative races.

Looking ahead, there will be a Metro Council that has new Councilors Sam Chase, Bob Stacey and Craig Dirksen on it. Sam and Bob both scored big wins last night (Craig was unopposed). This will be, by far, the most environmentally-friendly Metro Council we’ve ever had.

In Clackamas County, Martha Schrader won her race for County Commission Position 3 outright. In the race for County Commission Chair and Commission Position 4, our respective candidates – Charlotte Lehan and Jamie Damon – both advanced to fall run-offs. These were tough races and are critical for the future of Clackamas County. Anti-environmental groups and corporations are pouring money and resources into Tea Party candidates, and during the November election, you can be sure there will be a lot of focus on these races.

Moving over to Washington County, our candidates won all three of their races. In his contested County Commission race, Dick Schouten won re-election decisively. Likewise, Denny Doyle was re-elected as Beaverton Mayor and Mark Fagin was elected to the Beaverton City Council.

In Lane County, Pete Sorenson was elected to another term on the Lane County Commission. Pete has been a long-time champion for the conservation community in Lane County, and we’re looking forward to another four years of his efforts on behalf of the environment. Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy also earned another term with her win last night.

Also in Lane County, Rob Handy unfortunately fell short in his bid for re-election to the Lane County Commission. Rob has been a very strong advocate on conservation issues and we thank him – and all our OLCV volunteers and staff – for their tremendous work and Herculean effort in what was a really tough uphill climb.

And closing out our endorsed candidates, let’s not forget Steve Novick’s big win for the Portland City Council. Steve will be bringing his vision, leadership, and strong sense of humor into public service where it is sorely needed.

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Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

The late former Idaho Senator, Frank Forrester Church III, is rapidly fading from public memory not only in Idaho, but nationally. Church served Idaho honorably for 24 years (1957-1981), the only Democrat senator ever re-elected (three times) in Idaho history.

Except for those that love to recreate in “The Frank,” the vast 2.3 million acre wilderness in central Idaho named after the author of the 1964 Wilderness Act (The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness), few folks recall Idaho’s most famous Democratic senator and second only to William E. Borah as Idaho’s most famous in the first 125 years of statehood.

Thousands of Idahoans and hundreds of thousands of Americans owe a special debt of gratitude to the Senator, who was unique in pursuing an issue we all come to care about but few senators ever take up as a cause.

Frank had an abiding concern about how elderly are cared for especially as death approached. He was an early supporter of hospice and the dignity of dying at home with loved one’s around and professional caregivers available to assist.

It took him eight years to get it done, but eventually something we all take for granted today, became a reality – the ability to have hospice costs covered by Medicare.

The next time a hospice nurse drops by to assist you in caring for a dying loved one, say a brief prayer of thanks for the Senator.

He was keenly aware of the fragility of life, having beaten testicular cancer as a young man at Stanford following his work in World War II as an intelligence officer. Having faced down death once he was virtually fearless. The cancer returned when he was 59 and he died relatively quickly on April 7, 1984. Some say it was just as well he had been defeated in 1980 by Congressman Steve Symms.

I’m not one of those; all I see is lost opportunity. He did so much good and in three years could have done more. From the creation of the Sawtooth and Hells Canyon National Recreation Areas, to care for elderly, to the defense of American values by holding hearings exposing the rogue activities of the CIA and international corporations, Frank Church did it all, with grace and honor.

I pondered all of this recently as I was reading Robert Caro’s fine fourth volume (five are planned) biography, entitled The Passage of Power, on the life of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Caro has fascinating anecdotes about the relationships between LBJ, the Senate Majority Leader, young John F. Kennedy, and the even younger Frank Church. All three according to Caro arrived at the Senate with one ambition in mind: to become President some day.

LBJ read Church almost immediately and relatively soon left a note for Church saying he was willing to persuade then powerful syndicated columnist Drew Pearson to start building up Church’s national reputation in exchange for a vote.

Church did not bite and was so frozen out by LBJ that he wondered if he was ever going to get back in LBJ’s good graces. He did though by playing a key role in helping convince other liberal senators that a weak Civil Rights bill in 1957 was good enough initial progress.

The quid pro quo was final approval for Idaho Power’s Hells Canyon dam (though Church always denied there was a deal). LBJ, however, kept vacillating between formerly signaling he was running for president in 1960 and his pathological fear of failure. This vacillation was skillfully exploited by Robert Kennedy who organized and garnered key supporters while LBJ was still playing semantic games.

Two Idahoans put off by the vacillation were Tom Boise, head of Idaho’s Democratic Party, and Church. JFK also smelled Church’s ambitions and played to it by offering a bigger inducement than LBJ could by asking Church to give the 1960 Convention keynote speech. Caro tells a poignant story of Church greeting LBJ during a campaign stop in Idaho Falls, shortly thereafter, and Frank being unable to look LBJ in the eye.

LBJ knows instantly he had been crossed but unfortunately he had already given Church the one thing Frank really wanted—-an early appointment to the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

Ironically, in 1976 Church turned around and vacillated about entering the presidential primaries preferring instead to “campaign” through the media by his investigative committee hearings into the CIA, ITT and their covert activities in Chile.

Warned by advisors, the Senator waited too long. Yes, he won the Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Nebraska primaries – becoming the only Idahoan to ever win a presidential primary, but finished far out of the running, it’s too bad because he would have been a good president.

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

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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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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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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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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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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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Tuesday will mark Idaho’s first try at a partially-closed primary election. That means Republicans will allow only people declaring themselves to be Republicans to vote in that party’s primary. Democrats will allow anybody.

We’ve talked with a number of people who, disgusted at the idea of publicly declaring a party affiliation, said they won’t participate in this primary. How many of them there will be is unclear, especially since some of the early numbers are showing participation is up.

Anyway, these are some of the Idaho primary contests we’ll be watching most closely Tuesday night.

1 – House 2B (R) – Phil Hart (inc), Ed Morse (ch), Ron Vieselmeyer (ch), Fritz Wiedenhoff (ch). The Idaho Panhandle is a place of real intra-Republican ferment in this season, and this is one of the reasons why. Hart, who has a number of, let’s say issues, with the State Tax Commission (more specifically, it with him – and the IRS too), has a substantial core of defenders in this extremely Republican district. His opposition is split three ways, with Morse getting support from a relatively moderate organization (though they would not call themselves that) and Vieselmeyer, a former legislator, from some other conservative activists. (They have a lot of conservative Republican organizations up in the Panhandle.) Everyone’s watching this one.

2 – Senate District 5 (R) – Gresham Bouma (ch), Barrett Schroeder (ch). The winner here gets to face Democrat Dan Schmidt, who in this moderate district last cycle easily defeated Bouma, who was allied with the Tea Party – who had in the 2010 primary defeated Republican incumbent Gary Schroeder. Now Barrett Schroeder (that’s right) and Bouma are having it out – and Barrett’s campaign material is the most eye-grabbing of the season. The centerpiece of his campaign front page is worth quoting at length, as he proclaims himself: “A Peacemaker, Not a Troublemaker. Idaho MUST reject Extremism and Hate. Education is an investment in our future. I support the University of Idaho and our schools. Government of Laws and Accountability, Not Conspiracy Theories and Secret Militias. A Pro-Business Conservative: 10 years as Chair of Latah County Republicans, Manager of family business, Moscow Hide and Fur.” Bouma’s web page is a lot less interesting; he “pledges to support Constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, fiscal responsibility, and states’ rights.”

3 – Senate District 20 (D) – none on ballot. This is the odd case of the group, because there isn’t a primary contest here. Republican incumbent Chuck Winder currently is unopposed in either primary or general election. But Eagle resident James Mace filed in March as a write-in candidate for the Democratic nomination; if he gets 50 write-ins, he qualifies for a spot on the November ballot against Winder. He has the usually notoriously low Democratic turnout in that district to contend with, but quite a few people think he can manage the 50-vote threshold, and make for a lively contest in the fall. The first step, if it happens, has to be cleared on Tuesday. This write-in is apt to get unusual attention, if it succeeds, because Winder was the highly visible sponsor of last session’s intensely controversial (nationally as well as in the state) transvaginal ultrasound bill.

4 – Senate 1 (R) – Danielle Ahrens (ch), Shawn Keough (inc). All three Republican legislators in District 1 are being challenged as being insufficiently conservative. Such defining is awfully slippery, and probably seriously disingenuous. Keough, the senator of the three, has for some cycles held the vice-chair spot on the Senate side of the Idaho Legislature’s budget committee; such a position doesn’t go to anyone whose conservative cred is considered seriously questionable (by legislative Republicans, unless you consider them liberals). So, what this challenge means or amounts to isn’t totally clear, other than that it has been energetic. But there is this: If it succeeds, it would send some shock waves.

5 – Presidential primary (R). Yeah, yeah, the nomination is sewn up for Mitt Romney. But the Ron Paul people in Idaho (and in some other places) are making loud noises, and this would be a logical place for them to try.

6 – Senate District 23 (R) – Bert Brackett (inc), Tim Corder (inc.). Yes, this is one of those post-redistricting contests throwing together two incumbents, and although both are fair exemplars of this rugged and rural southwest Idaho range land, Brackett and Corder are quite different in legislative outlook. Corder is the more independent and free-ranging in his outlook, Brackett is the more business-oriented and closer to state Republican establishment (his backers include Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Senator James Risch, as well as the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry).

7 – House District 7A (R) – Shannon McMillan (inc), Rex Rammell (ch). Remember Rex Rammell? If not, then go here. Well, he’s back, in a brand new legislative district where the incumbent lives in, and has previously represented, just the northern end of it. Of course, Rammell is fairly new here too (he previously ran for the legislature around Rexburg), but this is quirky territory. We’d tend to figure McMillan takes it, but who knows for sure?

8 – U.S. Representative District 2 (R) – M.C. “Chick” Heileson (ch), Mike Simpson (inc). Last year this was a lot hotter than now, and Simpson’s renomination doesn’t seem anywhere near in danger. But it will be a good metric for evaluating the Tea influence this year: Heileson’s voice is a fierce one.

9 – Senate District 28 (R open) – W. Rusty Barlow, Jim Guthrie. This should be fascinating. Guthrie, now a representative from a Pocatello-area district, has been a Bannock County commissioner and has developed a campaigning style that keeps him in conservative territory but makes him acceptable to just enough Pocatellans. Barlow, who served in the House from 1976-82, is of a different style entirely – he was one of the most bluntly conservative legislators back in his day. This is quite a contrast, and the results should be fascinating.

10 – U.S. Representative District 2 (D) – Jack Wayne Chappell (ch), Nicole LeFavour. The general expectation is that LeFavour, a state senator and Idaho’s only openly gay legislator, will get the nomination easily against perennial candidate Chappell. Probably (though we don’t consider it a lock). But this will be one of those cases where it will pay to watch the details of the local returns.

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Tuesday night, the last of the ballots are scooped up, and the results (most of them anyway) are announced. Except for very close races, the results will be known soon after the 8 p.m. deadline passes.

So what to watch for? Here’s where our attention will be focused on Tuesday night.

1 – House 48 (D) – Mike Schaufler (inc), Jeff Reardon (ch). This must be the hottest legislative primary in Oregon this year, a fierce and intensively fought contest in, roughly, southeast Portland – in a district quite a bit different than the one the incumbent, Schaufler, is used to. About a dozen other Democratic House members have lined up for Schaufler’s opponent, Reardon, in an unusual display of determination to oust him. The Oregonian notes that “The Oregon League of Conservation Voters is cranking out mailers attacking Schaufler’s environmental votes as well as an incident involving Schaufler and a female lobbyist that led to the loss of his House co-chairmanship. One flier features him in league with Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.” But Schaufler, who has held a seat here since 2002, is not without friends of his own, or campaign skills. Our betting edges toward Reardon, but not by much: This ranks as the most interesting primary contests in Oregon this year.

2 – Portland mayor (np, open) – Eileen Brady, Charlie Hales, Jefferson Smith, 20 others. Writing about this a week ago, the uneasy prediction was that Hales will be the odd candidate out, and Brady and Smith proceed to November. We’re not changing that view yet, but this is a fluid race, and any of the three could realistically wind up third.

3 – Jefferson County Measure 17.43. This is a public safety ballot issue, and also a proposal to raise property taxes in a county that hates property taxes – and where almost all other options to keep the most basic of county services funded have been exhausted. Win other lose, this ballot issue will have statewide resonance.

4 – Clackamas County chair (np) – Dave Hunt (ch), Charlotte LeHan (inc), John Ludlow (ch), Paul Savas (ch). What a contest this has been, and it speaks to the rapid growth in Oregon’s third-largest county, its currently eruptive anti-tax Republican activism, and what has been a longer-term Democratic shift. The oddity is that it features an incumbent, Charlotte Lehan, who on her own seems not to have been especially controversial (though one blogger describes her “deaf ear for public sentiment,” for which some evidence is available). But her opponents come from all over the board: Former Democratic House speaker Hunt, who has drawn support not only from Democratic quarters but also an Independent Party endorsement; Paul Savas, a commission member who has gotten a lot of the conservative support (though the Oregonian, in endorsing him,m described him as a centrist); and Wilsonville Mayor John Ludlow. Political hacks will be poring over these results for weeks.

5 – Attorney General (D, open) – Ellen Rosenblum, Dwight Holton. It’s a statewide office, and has gotten some attention, but the main excitement seems to have been over which of them is more receptive to medical marijuana law (the thinking is Rosenblum, but the evidence is ambiguous). A moderately interesting race, but what will it teach us, other than (maybe) some reflection of attitudes about pot?

6 – Senate 27 (R) – Chris Telfer (inc), Tim Knopp (ch). It can’t be said – or rather, it shouldn’t be said, since it has been said – that Telfer is anything other than a loyal Senate caucus Republican, who only very occasionally breaks from the pack – no more than several others do. But the challenge from former legislator Knopp in the bigger picture has the look of a coalition of conservative forces (which does include two state representatives from the area) operating on loyalty politics – some of his backers describe Telfer as a Democrat. This is the premier party-loyalty battle in Oregon this year. (The guess here: Knopp wins.)

7 – Lane County Commission, seat 4 (np) – Rob Handy (inc), Pat Farr. Referencing back here to our April 29 piece on this contest between, in a race for a nonpartisan seat, a hot battle between a functional Democrat (that would be the incumbent, Handy) and a functional Republican (Farr).

8 – Portland city council seat 1 (np) – Amanda Fritz (inc). Mary Nolan (ch). You have an incumbent and a challenger, but even that is a little misleading here. Both Fritz and Nolan have views that you might expect of mainstream Portland city candidates, but their structural roles are a little different than you might expect. Fritz, closing out her first term, was the only candidate so far to win Portland city office using public financing, and in some ways seems to have been an outsider since. Nolan, on the other hand, woud be a new council member, but has been a veteran Idaho House member (since 2001), and has been majority leader there. It looks like a close race.

A lot more interesting as a contest than the race for seat 4, which is open. There, attorney Steve Novick – who would become overnight the most interesting member of the city council – is almost certain to win election, and probably will win outright on Tuesday; there are no other strong candidates in that race.

9 – House 36 (D, open) – Sharon Meieran, Jennifer Williamson. After Schaufler/Reardon, this race – to replace Mary Nolan, now running for the Portland council – has become one of the highest-profile of Portland-area legislative races, and its core debate subject is highly pertinent: health. Meieran, who has been a lawyer, has been more recently an emergency room physician. Williamson was and is an attorney, with some expertise in education, including for state entities (Department of Education, Portland State University) and appearing before the legislature: Lobbying. Williamson’s campaign got proactive on the definitional front http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2012/04/is_it_a_smear_to_call_an_orego.html, saying in one mailer, “Insurance companies are ready to spend a fortune to smear Jennifer Williamson as a ‘lobbyist.'” Meieran forces shot back, decrying the implication that she was an insurance-backed candidate. So we have a doctor (who used to be a lawyer) against a lawyer (who has lobbied), in a campaign that could be an interesting test of which definitions resonate better. The lessons may not be a lot broader than that: They’re both running as left-of-center Democrats in a left-of-center Democratic district. (Meieran seems to have gotten the weight of the endorsements.)

10 – U.S. House 3 (R) – Ronald Green, Delia Lopez. There’s a notable lack of suspense this year in the primaries for Oregon’s congressional offices (and may be again in November). The temptation to include one was too great to resist, though, and this one – the race for the apparently worthless Republican nomination in District 3 (that would be the overwhelmingly Democratic district anchored by Portland, the seat held by Democrat Earl Blumenauer). One of the candidates, a first-timer, was Green, a TriMet bus driver; the other is Lopez, who has run for this seat (and been Republican-nominated) twice before – from the small rural community of Oakland, a couple of hours away from District 3.

Lopez is personable, but, well, she doesn’t live even close to the district. Green has no great credentials for Congress, but he does live in the district, and he has a platform (mainly relating to higher tariffs) that relate to economic conditions and action Congress might take. Question: Are the few District 3 Republicans so dispirited that they vote by rote, and give Lopez the nomination again?

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