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Posts published in February 2013

Labrador probabilities

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

First District Congressman Raul Labrador is a smart, charming, articulate, up-by-the boot-strap, 45-year-old attorney known for his fearlessness in taking on the establishment within his Republican Party in Idaho as well as Washington, D.C.

A darling of the Tea Party types (those to the right of Attila the Hun) and the Club for Growth as well as the Grover Norquist never-support-a-tax-increase of any kind for any reason crowd, he is being urged to come home to seek the governorship.

Odds are, he will, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is a sincere desire to spend more time with his wife and the four of their five children still living at home in Meridian. Labrador and his wife are both devout members of the LDS Church, and family togetherness is a cherished value and tenet of their faith.

When a practicing attorney he specialized in immigration law and has parlayed that expertise skillfully while in Congress. He is viewed by leadership as a credible Hispanic face who will lead the Republicans to the promised land of a larger slice of the future Hispanic vote as he works with Florida Senator Marco Rubio to fashion a fair and more reasonable Republican position on immigration reform.

What many pundits are overlooking is that for Labrador immigration
reform is a double-edged sword for him and in a different sense for his party.

For Labrador it is a classic case that any final reform no matter how it is phrased will ease the path to citizenship for the millions of illegal largely Hispanic immigrants within our borders. To critics of reform, especially the many in Labrador’s Tea Party base, anything that rewards the illegal immigrant for their scoff-law attitude is unfair to the many million others who played by the rules.

Sandy Patano, former Senator Larry Craig’s state chief of staff, once told me that no issue generated more mail including hate mail aimed at the Senator than immigration reform. In all her years working with the Senator she had never seen such outrage, down-right hate, and such raw emotion regarding any issue they had ever faced.

Labrador recognizes the volatility of the issue and that he is riding the proverbial tiger. What makes sense is what he is doing---getting the debate started, helping to frame the issues, but then getting out of town and back home to run for governor. He can capitalize on his notoriety but can also provide himself the ability the side-step the final product.

The reform issue is a two-edged sword for the Republican Party
nationallyas well. The reason is simple and was verified by recent
research from the renowned Pew Research Lab. Their analysis shows
that out of the pool of several million illegal immigrants expected to
benefit from reforms as many as six or seven out of every ten that
becomes a citizen will become also a Democratic voter.

Thus, in the global sense, the Republicans expect some modest gains in Hispanic ranks for votes for them because they finally got it and adopted progressive reform policies. The raw national political sense the reforms will create is several million more votes for the Democrats.

All this adds up to powerful incentives for Labrador to return home.

Nor will Labrador be afraid of taking on a sitting governor if Governor Otter decides to seek a third term. He has challenged Butch before, both over his transportation reform proposal during Otter’s first term and his support for a gas tax increase. He beat him both times. Doubtless he is not afraid of a third round with the governor.

Here is the clincher: it is even money bet that the funds to finance Labrador’s gubernatorial bid will be supplied by a fellow Mormon, Frank Vandersloot, the multi-millionaire owner of Idaho Falls-based Melaleuca Corporation. Don’t be surprised either if the campaign manager turns out to be Damon Watkins, the son of former Idaho Falls State Senator Dane Watkins, and the campaign chair of the Idaho Mitt Romney for President Campaign.

Oregon Legislative Assembly opens for business

Duly noted, with the proper verbiage.

This has the feel, it seems here, of a lower-key and less-ambitous session, this despite the fact that control is unified this time, unlike the last couple of years. After the major structural redos of the state's medical and education systems, and more, it would seem a little surprising if this session matches or outdoes those.

Still, it might. Some adjustments - massive "reform" doesn't seem either in the cards, or needed - of the state's public employee retirement system would be a very big deal. So would a significant alteration of the tax system, which is under discussion.

And off they go. All three regional legislatures are now in motion.

Do you drive a red or blue state car?

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Bet you’ve never thought about how your personal politics might be related to the brand of car you drive – or if that brand might be a reflection of your politics? I hadn’t either until I came across some research the major car companies are paying a lot of attention to. And there’s nothing like combining a guy’s two favorite subjects – cars and politics – to get my attention.

Edmunds.com is a favorite web haunt dealing with all things automotive – vehicle values, road tests, consumer reviews, government safety testing and the like. If you’re into cars, it can keep you digging around on the subject for a long time. But I’d never thought of it as a place to go for political or economic news. Seems it is.

Our “Big Three” automakers are totaling the numbers to see how well they did in 2012. Two key factors used to measure success are sales and market share. These are reliable – though shifting – benchmarks and the news is expected to be good. As far as it goes. But Edmunds has begun pointing out a third measure for a successful year. And that factor is not good for domestics. In fact, it’s troubling.

Edmunds researchers have found brands of the Big Three are becoming “regionalized.” Each may have a strong following and a sales lead in one area of the country while losing share in another part. In fact, core markets can be rooted so deeply that sales for any one of the three can go way up. Or drop way off.

Let’s call it the “Red State-Blue State” phenomena. State-by-state sales data strongly indicates cars made by the Detroit Three are largely Red State cars, popular with people in the heartland that vote Republican. Yep, it’s true. And imports, by contrast, do better in Blue States where the majority of voters are Democrats. Usually on or near both coasts.

“So what,” you ask? “Who cares?”

Well, the Big Three care. A lot. Because the news doesn’t favor domestic brands. Red states tend to be more rural, less populated and slower-growing than the rest of the country. The top 10 in order: Michigan, North/South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Indiana. They have in common stable or declining populations (except for North Dakota which is temporary), are mostly ignored by national media and have little impact on broad national trends.

Now, Blue States. Mostly import brands. In order: Hawaii, District of Columbia, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Florida, Maryland and Washington State. Coastal states with higher populations (potential buyers) and more traffic. Smaller import cars sell much better than the Big Three. (more…)

This week in the Briefings

hazing crew
Sea lion hazing crew on the Willamette. (Photo/Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife)

As Oregon's legislature prepares to join the other Northwest two in action, weather eased up - became a little less wintry. The economy continued on a steady if uneasy course.

From the Idaho Digest: A new comprehensive study of records compiled by the Boone and Crockett Club concludes that big game harvest has reduced the size of horns and antlers of trophy male big game species over time. Why? (Read ahead ...)

Where 20 counties came from

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
The Idaho
Column

On February 11 Idaho will pass another anniversary, six years away from the centennial mark since it last created a new county. Caribou County, hacked away from Bannock County in 1919, is the youngest, though by only three days: Jerome County was formed the previous Saturday, its territory taken from Gooding and Lincoln counties (Jerome being situated in the middle).

These were not rare instances. Twenty counties, almost half of Idaho's current 44, were formed in the decade of the 1910s, all carved out of pieces of other counties. Most have in common relatively small geographical areas and small to midsized populations. Idaho's smallest county, Payette, was formed in 1917 from Canyon County. There was Adams in 1911 (from Washington), Benewah in 1915 (from Kootenai), Boundary in 1915 (from Bonner), Camas in 1917 (from Blaine), Lewis in 1911 (from Nez Perce), and so on. Many more Idaho counties were formed in the 1910s than in any other decade.

Why then?

One reason may have been a population boom. Idaho's head count doubled from 1900 to 1910, and by about half again during the 1910s. Many of the counties that split up in the 1910s had experienced huge growth; Lincoln County, which was split three times, went from 1,784 people in 1900 to 12,676 in 1910. In 1920, after the cut-ups, Lincoln was back down to 3,446, territory where it has remained since.

Another reason probably was transportation, and transportation expectations. The first two decades of the twentieth was transitional, between an established but lightly-populated state, and a state with significant population. In 1900 Idaho's population was about 162,000, fairly close to Nampa plus Meridian today. In 1920 it reached 432,000, making Idaho a whole different kind of place. Commerce and other reasons for travel were booming. (more…)

Radon by zip code

In a strict sense, the significance of this isn't that great, because the presence of radon can vary a great deal from house to house (or building to building).

But the new statewide analysis in Oregon of places - by zip code and by map - that register high or low in the radon screens are quite interesting.

There's also a map.

From the release: (more…)

Will bad news delay sequester?

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

Will bad news delay the sequester? Wednesday the government released the fourth quarter’s Gross Domestic Product, the output of goods and service produced by labor in the United States. That number decreased by .01 percent. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, decimal point next to a digit that small, but it reflects a shrinking economy instead of a growing one. And the main reason for the contraction: Government spending.

From the report: “Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 15.0 percent in the fourth quarter, in contrast to an increase of 9.5 percent in the third. National defense decreased 22.2 percent, in contrast to an increase of 12.9 percent. Nondefense increased 1.4 percent, compared with an increase of 3.0 percent. Real state and local government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 0.7 percent, in contrast to an increase of 0.3 percent.”

In other words, government is shrinking across the board. And this is before the sequester. Those numbers will decline even more after the sequester begins.

At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the data - and quickly blamed Republicans in Congress. “Talk about letting the sequester kick in as though that were an acceptable thing belies where Republicans were on this issue not that long ago, and it makes clear again that this is sort of political brinksmanship of the kind that results in one primary victim, and that's American taxpayers, the American middle class,” Carney said. “You're correct that the GDP number we saw today was driven in part by -- in large part by a sharp decrease in defense spending, the sharpest drop since I think 1972. And at least some of that has to do with the uncertainty created by the prospect of sequester.” (more…)