Writings and observations

Crapo
Mike Crapo/Alexander VA police

Becoming Idaho’s senior senator has started turning into a bad-headline situation: There was the internationally-famous Larry Craig incident from about five years ago, and now the DUI arrest of Mike Crapo.

One difference between the two is that while a long-running rumor circuit made the Craig arrest a surprise but not a complete shock, it’s probably safe to say not many people saw a DUI arrest in Crapo’s future. Crapo has always appeared to be a totally observant, teetotaling Mormon; he has specifically said that he doesn’t drink, and he seems to have given no reason till now to doubt that. His name never has shown up – as far as I know – on any informal list of quiet occasional drinkers among the politically active faithful, at least outside his circle of closest friends and relatives.

Crapo was arrested early Sunday morning, and police in Alexandria, Virginia, reported he had a .11 blood alcohol level, substantially above the .08 line for DUI (in Virginia as well as in Idaho). That BAC level is ordinarily an indicator of being not just tipsy, not close to borderline sober, but being seriously sloshed.

The senator’s first statement out of this was appropriate enough: “I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance. I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter.”

He isn’t, evidently, trying to dodge, prevaricate or avoid, which is a good sign.

Two other points are worth making before more plays out.

One is that Crapo has no cause – no external reason, apart from whatever his own preferences may be – for resigning. That may sound awfully premature since no calls for departure have surfaced (that I have seen), but expect some to materialize, from anti-drunk driving activists if not elsewhere. Remember that in Craig’s case, the chorus for resignation was deafening, not least from Idaho, and Craig’s legal offense (while much more spectacular from a tabloid perspective) was lesser than Crapo’s.

Crapo is being charged with a misdemeanor, however, so there’s no legal requirement to leave. He appears ready to accept the consequences, which is all you can ask at this point. And we don’t, or at least shouldn’t, hold our officials to some standard of perfection. There’s no reason Crapo can’t, if he chooses, go on doing the job the voters of Idaho hired him to do.

There is something else, though, Crapo owes those voters, and in a looser sense (as a relatively senior senator, and top Republican on the increasingly significant Banking Committee) owes the rest of the country: An explanation.

At some point in the days ahead, as he has the chance to collect his thoughts and re-evaluate whatever needs to be evaluated, Crapo ought to open up about what’s going on in his life and what led up to his driving under the influence – and, for that matter, being under the influence. This would not be an easy thing to do, and facing this up to his fellow Mormons would be awfully tough.

If Crapo wants to retain the support and confidence than Idahoans at least (and people outside the state as well) give him that allow him to function effectively in the Senate, then he needs to come clean about what’s happening. And how he intends to deal with his challenges, so that he can do the job he was elected to.

A good deal of Crapo’s support over the years has come from the sense that this is a man of strong and upright character. Now, in this moment of challenge, Idaho will get to see more clearly than it has before exactly what is the nature of Crapo’s character – not so much in in the mistake that led to a DUI arrest, but in what he does from this point forward in response to it.

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Idaho

idahocolumnn

For those who have to pay it, the personal property tax must be one of the most aggravating.

Many Idahoans probably don’t know much about it – don’t often encounter it – and may have wondered what the deal was when a report about the Idaho personal property tax was released by the state Tax Commission last week. It may be one of the least liked taxes among small businesses; under its terms, businesses have to itemize things like office equipment – furniture, computers and much more – and estimate their value, with taxes to be paid on them. The taxes have not been massively high, but in relative terms the paperwork can be extensive.

Unsurprisingly, there’s been a movement for some years to eliminate the personal property tax, and it’s picking up steam. (The lobby at the Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry is working on it, for one, following up on lobbying it did last year.) Prospects are fair or better that the personal property tax in Idaho may be amended or maybe even eliminated next session.

At the same time, not a lot has been known about it – what it raises, where it goes, what it covers.

Some of that information gap ended with the Tax Commission report’s released on December 18, and it should provide the information base around which debate will run. It’s the first report on the subject the commission has ever released. After reading it, you suspect it won’t be the last.

It tells us, for example, that the PPT brings in about $140 million a year. Split among the hundreds of local government districts (the sewer districts get $12,852), that’s a fairly small piece of the tax pie. Even so, $140 million would make a dent of some kind, especially in the cities and counties, if it abruptly went away.

A close read of the report suggests, though, that changes could be made that might ease its often onerous nature without cutting away all the revenue – and in fact the personal property tax probably due for some good review and a legal rewrite anyway.

One memo in the report (dated October 26) concerns “operating property,” which relates to certain mainly industrial types of business. There (in many cases at least) the “personal property” is deemed to be almost anything other than land and buildings. In addition to the furniture, electronics and office equipment, the “personal property” includes telephone poles, power pumping equipment, rail cars, line pipe, oil tanks, water hydrants – a whole lot of stuff you don’t really think of as “personal.”

Some of that may be questionable, because the memo adds: “These are under the assumption that everything but land and buildings are personal property. Any assumption can be made as there are different interpretations on the definitions of what is real and what is personal property, particularly in the area of conduit, pipe in the ground and various fixtures which are strongly attached to the buildings …”

There is, in other words, plenty of room to maneuver here. And the surprise may be that there have been more lawsuits over this uncertainty.

If only to clear up the confusion, this looks like a legislative topic for 2013.

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Idaho Idaho column

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

Within a span of just 14 hours, we’ve been exposed to two terrible examples of belligerence, selfishness, ignorance and behavior dangerous to who we are as a nation. One was a handful of carelessly elected zealots – hellbent on fiscal destruction of our economy. The other, a tone-deaf, arrogant, in-your-face example of the dangers the existing National Rifle Association presents to the civility of our culture.

For the record, what John Boehner tried to ramrod through the U.S. House was lousy legislation – ill-conceived legislation – bad for middle class Americans legislation. It deserved a procedural death. But not the way it happened. Or for the reasons it happened.

Boehner’s “Plan B” was DOA in the Senate and stood to get a stake in the heart at the White House if it accidentally got that far. It was proposed simply as a GOP “show horse.” Toss tax issues to the Democrats and make them fall on their swords. But it blew up in Boehner’s face. The faulty legislative grenade was triggered by about three dozen members – loosely called “tea partiers.” Small “T” and small “P.”

Make no mistake. These are not “Tea Party” people in the original meaning of that title which was believed a clever nomenclature for some disgruntled Americans wanting to make a political statement to the country a few years back. These people are vastly ignorant about the affairs and conduct of the government they espouse so much hate for. They know nothing of how it’s structured – how it works – or what’s expected from people who currently hold the elected offices they do. Single-issue zealots to the core, they routinely subvert their own “causes” by stepping on their own feet.

What they’ve done is treasonous. They’ve cut the throat of an entire political party. Giving Boehner absolute benefit of any doubt, his was the only voice of the entire Republican Party in that body that could’ve negotiated solutions to our terrible financial perils. If he and the rest of our national elected voices were to find common cause to deal with the thorny issues, his voice had to be supported. Sadly, it was not. And is not.

What the ignorant have done is cut the ground out from under him. In the process they’ve created something they profess to hate: a unilateral voice of one to create an agenda – or solution – as that voice sees fit. I don’t like government-of-one. We need the best of each of the two parties we send to conduct our national affairs. The tension of two knowledgeable, reasoned, intelligent sets of hands is needed on the rope to keep us from being pulled too far in any one direction.

GOP Rep. Steve La Tourette spoke for a lot of us at the moment of failure. “It’s unbelievable, this is horrible. I’m angry, sad for my friend the Speaker and I’m sorry for the country. We deserve better.”

Hear hear.

What the GOP miscreants have done is effectively cripple the two-party system. Boehner will never have a chance to undo what they’ve done from this day forward. He will never again be regarded as the leader of all things Republican in the House. Through no special fault of his own, he’ll never be trusted to speak with an effective, unified political voice.

As for the NRA, the only response that comes to mind is – again – the word “treason” – the betrayal of one’s country. And of one’s countrymen.
I live in an area of Oregon where LaPierre’s obscene response to the killing of 27 people in Connecticut by semi-automatic weaponry will be looked upon by far too many as “the right response. ” I thank God our little place in the trees is often more an aberration than the national reality.

There are roughly 98,000 public schools in our nation. Rather than joining any reasoned search for solutions to mass murder – an end to mass murder – the NRA is simply proposing we place – and pay for – an armed police officer in every public school building. After a week to think – to plan – to propose a responsible course of action on behalf of gun owner members in the wake of the mass murder of 20 six and seven-year-olds and their teachers, LaPierre and the cretins around him have offered a plan that is simply mind-boggling. Hire more guns.

More than 30 years ago, I belonged to the NRA. I tore up the card and cut off the decals when association responses – even then – deviated from what I felt was the path of what responsible gun ownership interests were about. Never regretted the decision.

LaPierre’s outrageous statement has – in my mind – put the organization in direct opposition to our national values. The words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” come to mind because his chosen response seems to be a threat to all those. Unless, of course, you’re carrying an assault rifle.

I’ve no idea how many legitimate, responsible gun owner organizations exist in this country. Probably dozens. It is my fervent hope – it will become my nightly prayer – that their ranks double and triple and quadruple with former members of the NRA. Former members who’ve had a belly full of the intransigence, ignorance and arrogantly anti-social stance of the NRA and the new low it has reached in civic responsibility.
The NRA long ago lost any appearance of representing legitimate interests of the millions of its members. It’s become an organization of arrogance – of self-interest – a wielder of political power antithetical to good citizenship. It delights in destroying political careers of those who dare to cast their votes on behalf of constituents instead of the NRA. It has wrongfully used power to pervert national interest. Treason.

The subversion of a functioning two-party system in Congress by those ignorant of their responsibilities in elective office – the abdication of a national association’s corporate responsibility and necessary participation in trying to end our nightmare of senseless killing and mass murder by the NRA – these two events seem cause for our concern as a country.

And I am.

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Rainey

Oregon Republicans are losing a capable party chair in Allen Alley, the former candidate for governor who led the party through difficult times, departing at the end of his term to return to relatively private life. How difficult the Oregon Republican situation may be in 2014 could relate to who becomes Alley’s successor.

In most cases it wouldn’t matter greatly. (Alley, who did reasonably well, nonetheless presided over a bad election cycle for Oregon Republicans.) But it might in this case:

The first public candidate for the job is former two-time congressional candidate Art Robinson, he of the, ah, unusual ideas about nuclear waste (sprinkle it on the ocean) and public schools (which he has equated to child abuse).

From the Democratic-supporting Blue Oregon blog: “I find it hard to believe that the money people behind the Oregon GOP would allow Art Robinson to be their spokesman in Oregon. It would basically be a sign that they’re just throwing in the towel entirely. But he’s not without his supporters – particularly in the Ron Paul wing-ding sector. And they’re fired up, feeling that they were mistreated in the convention delegate selection process. Pass the popcorn!”

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Oregon

This may never materialize – for various reasons, probably won’t – but you can easily imagine the turn of mind that would cause it to be taken this far.

A story in the St. Maries Gazette-Record says that a survivalist group operating at The Citadel Project has plans to set up a walled community (with amenities including schools, medical facilities, recreational outlets and an armory) housing about 3,000 to 5,000 people, with an economic base consisting mainly of gun manufacture. A rural area in Benewah County, Idaho, is proposed as a possible site. (It’s not clear how many other places may be in the running.) And, as the paper noted, “Whether backers of the effort own anything more than a website is unclear.”

Why Benewah County? The indications were that it was thought to be amenable, generally. And as for the specific site, one backer wrote, “I have walked the ground on one mountain, and you’ll have to take my word for it at the moment, the terrain favors the defender.”

(Against let us say, one wonders, drone missiles?)

The groups statement said they’d comply with the laws of the United States, but only those they deem constitutional. You can see where that goes.

Guns are a big part of this. “Every able-bodied Patriot aged 13 and older” would have to pass an annual shooting test and “Every able-bodied Patriot of age within the Citadel will be armed with one AR15 variant in 5.56 mm NATO, at least five magazines and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.”

Further developments will be awaited with interest.

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Idaho

carlson
Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Former Governor Cecil D. Andrus said it best: I never met a deer armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

He’s well known as a sportsman who gets his elk and deer annually for the family larder, and fills the edges of the freezer with pheasants, ducks, geese, wild turkeys and chukars, all of which he hunts annually. This past fall he nailed his six-point bull elk with one shot at 340 yards.

He fundamentally supports the Second Amendment right of a citizen to keep and bear arms. He does not believe, as some interpreters of the Constitution do, that the right is meant just for a militia. That said he also believes common sense has to be applied. That means society can through Congress sanction reasonable curbs such as banning cop-killer bullets and imposing waiting periods before purchase.

The tragedy and the carnage at Sandy Hill Elementary demands at a minimum re-opening the debate on whether there should be a restoration of an outright ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles and their incredibly lethal magazines (up to a hundred rounds in some cases.).

AR-15’s and other semi-automatic rifles are built for one purpose: to kill human beings. They are neither a hunting rifle, nor usually a sporting or target shooting rifle. They are a lethal weapon meant to kill. Only police agencies and the military should have them. One can defend his castle from any home invader with a Glock 21 semi-automatic .45 caliber pistol, or a shotgun.

The problem of course is when the Brady Bill ban on the sale of these weapons and their magazines was allowed by Congress to expire, people could legally buy them and many gun collectors as well as individuals have. Common sense says we’re not going to confiscate these legally acquired weapons.

Rather than focus first on the irresolvable debate over whether stricter controls on the sale of these weapons could make elementary schools safer, there ought to be a focus on establishing ways of identifying and intervening with individuals who have mental issues and almost always are heard by someone saying they are going to exit this world and take a bunch of innocent people with them.

Meaningful intervention means society is going to have to cough up a lot more funding to address mental health issues and fund campaigns on television and radio urging people to report on “rats.” Set up toll free lines that can be directed to agencies who can legally engage in preventative detention and also direct concerned parents to services that will help them deal with a troubled son or daughter.

We also have to make part of the debate some way of discouraging these awful video games young people are consumed with playing which glorify action heroes who gun down their enemies by the hundreds. Bottom line is in our culture we glorify violence and encourage people to think they can be Lone Rangers taking the law into their own hand to wreak vengeance.

In the debate over possible restoration of the ban on automatic weapons, if not a ban then we should insist on examining better registration requirements as well as longer waiting periods before sanctioning a sale. Additionally, we should consider prohibiting gifting these weapons as well as an outright ban on their sale at gun shows across the nation.

There is no single simple answer to trying to minimize the circumstances that lead to these tragedies. Placing more restrictions on the millions of legitimate owners is simply feel good legislation that harasses the law abiding.

A combination though of both ways to identify and intervene with these deranged individuals, while making it tougher for them to acquire the kind of lethal fire power an AR-15 has to create absolute carnage seems to be a good starting point.

Let’s not fool ourselves either. It will take more money to fund properly mental health intervention programs as well as monitor the stricter controls on sales of automatic weapons and place more police “resource officers” in public schools.

We all pay lip service though to the belief that children are the future. As a society we just have no choice but to step up to the responsibility to ensure they are truly protected in their schools, their homes and on the streets. We best walk the talk.

President Obama can get the debate going by unilaterally announcing in six months he will sign executive orders placing more funding through ObamaCare into mental health prevention programs and the reinstating tighter controls on the sale of assault weapons.

Let the debate begin.

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Carlson

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

“…and a little child shall lead them”
Isaiah 11: 6

The Friday of the Newtown, CT massacre, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) was having dinner with his family. Warner has been a consistent supporter of 2nd Amendment rights and has an “A” rating from the NRA. He wasn’t prepared for the question from one of his three daughters.

“Dad, what are you going to do about this?”

That’s a moment none of us – even a U.S. Senator – is prepared to deal with. The moment one of our children cuts through all the garbage – all the B.S. – and goes straight to our gut.

Here, several days after the killing, the images of faces and the descriptions of the horrible wounds that wiped away all the childish smiles are haunting. They are – at least so it seems at the moment – unforgettable. I pray that will continue to be so. That no one forgets.

I long ago learned to never ask “why” when dealing with unexpected death. Because “why” directs attention to the past. The only acceptable questions at that moment are “What now” – “What is our next step” – “How do we continue?”

“What are you going to do about this?”

Most of us are mindful of the dozens of our brothers and sisters who’re killed by guns every week in this country. We’ve become inured to the news even as more Americans are being cut down. We hear the news without hearing and file it away in some mental drawer which we only reopen to insert more of the same when it happens again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.

But my sense is things are different this time. The question from Sen. Warner’s daughter is in nearly all our minds – though still without good answers. Americans of good sense and reasonable thought are still stunned. We’re off mental balance these days later and many of us are admitting to ourselves that we don’t have the usual ready answer to a child’s question.

Even the NRA – the twisted bastion that has contorted the 2nd Amendment into a catch-all of imagined “liberties” unintended by the authors – even the NRA has kept it’s belligerent mouth shut. No angry press releases. No TV appearances. Corporate refusal of all ill-conceived requests for interviews. Removal of the NRA Facebook page and the usual incendiary rhetoric it contains. Nearly a week out and nothing. But LaPierre can’t shut up. He’ll talk shortly. And when he does, what he says will not erase the decades of hate and lies he has spewed at every opportunity. He can’t.

His 30 years of verbal garbage have helped create some of the crazies. To our Oregon backwoods shame, we have a demented voice – tragically in legislative office. He has loudly – and most ignorantly – intoned we should arm teachers. Good idea, idiot. Then our kids can cower under their desks while a historic re-enactment of the shootout at the O.K. Corral takes place over their heads. With live ammunition. He’s been joined by that intellectually ever-vacant Texan, Louis Gohmert, taking to the floor of the House of Representatives with the same crap for national TV consumption. And the other demented.

Still, for the rest of us, I get a different feel following Newtown. There seems to be a quiet determination building to tackle this shameful history of murder-of-the-innocents. More than just the usual “ban the guns” rhetoric. We’re hearing intelligent talk of legally getting rid of semi-automatics and other tools of heavy armament belonging only in the hands of the military and law enforcement. Same for the extended magazines for bullets.

More than that, prominent voices – voices of people who can make it happen – are adding thoughtful proposals for better mental health services to try to spot disaster before it happens. Those voices are louder and coming from new and different places than before Newtown.

There’s even talk of challenges to the mass entertainment and video industries by saner heads who want to stop the desensitizing of young minds to violence in the name of “fun.” We’ve heard that before. But not in the chambers and hallways where we’re hearing it today.

So far, most of this is still talk. Still just words. The TV satellite trucks are still overwhelming Newtown and the talking heads are still providing verbal “overkill.” We aren’t being spared any detail as they pry day-after-day into grief that should be private. Residents want the media out. Even some of the media want to end the siege of excess. That’s different, too.

But they’ll leave in a few days. Just as they left Aurora, Clackamas, Denver, Chicago, the Sikh Temple and the sites of all the other violent deaths. When they go – when Newtown residents return to a routine wrapped in grief, guilt and a terrible sense of loneliness – we’ll see if the words we hear today are followed through with actions tomorrow. And tomorrow.

“What are you going to do about this?”

The Senator had no ready answer for his daughter. We’ll soon see if any of us do.

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Rainey

The answer to our rash of mass shootings, to many gun advocates, is – more guns, meaning: If more people were packing, those shooters wouldn’t get the chance to do their thing, if they even dared. Lives would be saved by averted violence, a sort of non-nuclear mutual assured destruction.

That proposition, it turns out, was actually put to the test at last week’s shooting spree at the Clackamas Mall south of Portland. There, a shooter entered the mall and started firing. And as it happened, a man inside was packing, and even drew his weapon in response.

His name was Nick Meli, and he was the subject of an Oregonian story today. Meli is among the gun owners who regularly carry many places they go – “You never know what will happen,” he was quoted as saying. So far, all in line with the more-carry, more-safe line of reasoning.

Except it turns out Meli was actually well trained for proper use of his weapon. The Oregonian said that “Meli was first certified as an unarmed professional security guard by the Oregon Department of Public Safety, Standards and Training in 2010. Last June, he completed the additional 24 hours of training needed to be certified as an armed professional, including passing tests on shooting, safe gun handling and criminal and use-of-force laws, said Karen Evans, DPSST investigator. She said Meli has worked as a security guard for Clackamas Town Center since June through Valor Security Services.”

So what happened when this well-trained gun packer saw the carnage, pulled his weapon and – in his account – had the shooter in his sights?

He didn’t pull the trigger. There were too many other people around, moving too quickly; the chances were that he might inadvertently shoot an innocent person.

Meli almost certainly made the correct call. Question: Would a batch of untrained but packing warriors-in-their-own-minds have acted as wisely?

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Oregon

carlson
NW Reading

The Oregon commission on public safety, tasked with making suggestions on cutting corrections costs while not harming public safety, has its report out, and some of the pieces of it seem clear enough.

The legislature, convening in February, may well take a good look at what it suggests.

Some of the core of it is in these summary paragraphs, worth some attention:

What the Commission found in Oregon’s data was, as expected, a state with tremendous public safety achievements. Commissioners were in complete accord that we begin our process by taking stock of the many things we have done well in our public safety system. Paramount among these is the historic and sustained crime decline we have experienced in Oregon. What’s more, we have achieved this crime decline with a comparably modest incarceration rate (still below the national average) and a prison system that focuses largely on offenders convicted of violent and sex offenses. This means that, for the most part, our state is appropriately focusing its most expensive public safety resource on the offenders who need it most. Finally, through its renowned commitment to evidence‐based practices, Oregon’s corrections system has achieved one of the nation’s lowest recidivism rates.

However, the Commission found that Oregon has lost ground on some of these achievements over the past 10 years. Even though our state imprisonment rate hovers below the national average, it has grown at over three times the rate of the national average in the last decade. During that same period, Oregon’s prison admissions have grown to include increasing percentages of nonviolent offenders, diluting the state’s strategy of concentrating prison beds on the violent and sex offenders who warrant them most. Oregon also has been handing down longer sentences for all offense types, including nonviolent offenses. Despite a growing body of research that points to the diminishing public safety returns of longer prison sentences, Oregon offenders are staying longer in prison today than they have at any point in the last decade.

Finally, the Commission found that as the state directs increasing resources to prisons, resources for Oregon’s community corrections programs, lauded across the country for their success in reducing recidivism, have shrunk. Many counties face significant shortfalls in the sanctions and services they need in order to hold offenders accountable at the local level.

Additionally, critical public safety agents like sheriffs, victim service providers, and the state police have gone underfunded. These shortfalls pose a real and pressing threat to sustaining Oregon’s reductions in recidivism and victimization.

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Oregon

westcascades

A statistical rundown of presidential votes by congressional district has been completed – for the three Northwest states at least – on the Daily Kos site, and it offers some real perspective on just how Republican or Democratic the various districts in the states are.

This is least useful, probably, in Idaho, where the two congressional districts are very nearly each as Republican – very. It does show that the second district is incrementally less Republican than the first; In 2012 it went 33.1% for Barack Obama and 64.1% for Mitt Romney (in 2008, 37.1% for Obama and 60.5%) for John McCain). That compares with the first district’s 2012 of 32.2%/Obama and 64.9%/Romney (in 2008, Obama/35.1% and McCain/62.5%) – hardly a difference at all, when the overall margins are so large.

In Oregon’s five districts, which like Idaho’s didn’t change massively with redistricting, the numbers are a little more distinctive.

By far the most partisan-leaning district of the five was the Portland-centric 3rd, where in 2012 Obama took 72% (Romney/24.7%) and in 2008 won with 72.9% (McCain/24.3%) – a much more sweeping partisan dominance than even Republicans in Idaho. It was also much more sweeping than in the Republican-oriented Oregon 2nd district, where the Republican presidential nominees won but by less than landslide numbers (2012 Romney/56.8%, Obama/40.5%; 2008 McCain/53.8%, Obama 43.3%). In fact, the appropriate Oregon mirror image to the Republican 2nd now would be not the 3rd, which is much more blue than the 2nd is red, but rather the first district, where Obama both cycles won by about as much as his Republican opponents did in the 2nd (in the 1st: 2012 Obama/57.3% Romney/40%; 2008 Obama 59.6% McCain 37.7%).

The other two districts, roughly the southwestern quadrant of the state, are closely comparable, with clear but lesser Democratic leads. In the 4th (centered on Lane County but including much conservative territory), Obama won in 2012 by 51.7% to 45.0%; in 2008, by 54.2% to 42.7%. In the 5th, the numbers were not far off from that: Obama in 2012 by 50.5% to 47.1%, and in 2008 by 53% 44.2%.

The largest interest in these numbers, though, should be in Washington state.

Here we find a genuinely wide range of results. The single most partisan congressional district in the Northwest is here, in Seattle’s 7th district, where the Obama wins both cycles were enormous (79.2% to 18.1% in 2012, and 80.4% to 18.0% in 2008), significantly exceeding even the Oregon 3rd. The third most partisan CD in the region is immediately south of Seattle, the much-reconfigured 9th district, where Obama overwhelmed Republicans in both cycles (in 2012, by 68.3% to 29.6%, and in 2008 by 68.6% to 29.9%).

Of the 10 Washington districts, the Republicans won the presidentials both time in just two, the easternmost. Their strongest was the Tri-Cities-based 4th, where they nearly won landslides both times (2012 Obama 37.9% to Romney 59.7%, in 2008 Obama 39.2% to McCain 58.9%). They approached that in the 5th (2012 Obama 43.7% to Romney 53.5%; 2008 Obama 46.3% to McCain 51.2%). They are clearly Republican-leaning areas, but not overwhelmingly so by comparison with the districts around Seattle.

The 3rd district, now held by a Republican and commonly described as a Republican district, is more marginal than you might think. Romney did win it in 2012, but only narrowly (Obama/47.9%, Rommey 49.6%), and McCain lost it in 2008 (Obama/50.9%, McCain 47.1%). And while the new 8th district has been commonly described as a Republican gift to Republican Representative Davie Reichert, this may come as a shock: Obama won it in both cycles (20120 Obama/49.7%, Romney 48.1%; 2008 Obama 51.5%, McCain 46.8%). Democrats might want not to give up in the 8th.

When it was formed by redistricters, the new 1st district looked maybe a tad more Republican than Democratic, but in any event very close. But the presidential numbers show that new Democratic Representative Suzanne DelBene’s win there may be no fluke. Obama won in its contours 54.1%/43.3% in 2010, and by 56.3%/41.9% in 2008.

And the newly-redrawn Washington 6th and 10th look a little more Democratic, based on presidential numbers, than that – about in lines with expectations.

All of which may provide some guidance as political people plan out their races for the cycles ahead.

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