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Posts published in “Day: February 15, 2014”

Household name to – who?

idaho RANDY

After the governor and the four members of the congressional delegation, the Idaho politician with the closest to a household-familiar name probably is Tom Luna, the two-term superintendent of public instruction. A year from now, since Luna isn't running again, the next superintendent will be someone most Idahoans haven't known very well.

The time has come for those candidates to get about the business of defining themselves, or getting defined by someone else. Since the results are likely to be mined for what they say about Idaho, let's have a look at how the field is shaping up so far.

At present, four people have announced for the office. There may be more. Just one of the four has been a statewide figure before: Jana Jones, the one Democrat in the race, who ran for this job in 2006, losing to Luna in the election that made him superintendent. The result was a close Luna win. Jones, who then was chief deputy to Luna's Democratic predecessor as superintendent (Marilyn Howard), hasn't been very visible since. But she surely retains some contacts and the outlines of a campaign organization, and some experience as a candidate, which would help her get started this time. They also may be enough to clear the Democratic side of the field before the primary. As a Democrat she has automatic disadvantages running statewide in Idaho, but then the contest on the Republican side is for now hard to fathom.

Three Republicans have announced: Randy Jensen, principal of the William Thomas Middle School at American Falls, John Eynon, a music and drama instructor at Cottonwood, and (as of last week) Sherri Ybarra of Mountain Home, whose announcement identifies her as having worked as a principal and teacher.

The Idaho superintendent's office traditionally has been filled by professional educators; Luna's election in 2006 was a major break in that informal rule. But so far, everyone now running appears to hit that bar.

So how do Idahoans differentiate? Or, more immediately, how will Republican primary voters do so?

Eynon seems easiest to define. His web site says specifically, and right up top, he running “because he is opposed to our children being taught to the unproven standards envisioned by Common Core.” His issues page also includes a long quote, and it's the only quote by anyone, from former Representative Ron Paul. On the campaign trail (such as at Kellogg last weekend) he seemed to include support for state Senator Russ Fulcher, who's challenging incumbent Republican C.L. “Butch” Otter for governor. Eynon appears to be working the Tea Party side of the street.

Jensen, who has been stumping around the state with Secretary of State candidate Evan Frasure, seems to be closer to the mainstream conservative side of things, but there's some guesswork in that suggestion, and not a lot for evidence. He plays up the professional side of his background (notably, a 2005 award as national principal of the year); his website has plenty about professional background and little about “issues”; news articles about him look much the same. So why exactly is he running? He'll need to get more specific about that. And maybe he will.

One reason he'll have to is because Ybarra is positioned very much the same, also highlighting her professional credentials but not yet positioning her on the hot issues of education in the state.

And those issues are plenty hot. What do the three candidates think of the “Luna laws” passed in 2011 and rejected by the voters the next year? What about the governor's schools commission report? Eynon has made clear his view on common core (which Luna has supported); what do the other two think?

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

More nullification bills in legislature (Lewiston Tribune)
Snowpacks holding up well (Lewiston Tribune, Nampa Press Tribune)
Concealed guns on college campuses, advancing (Nampa Press Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
Latah general fund on ballot (Moscow News)
Ag gag bill moves in Senate (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Cabela's comes to Ammon (Pocatello Journal)
Idaho second per capita for Obamacare (Pocatello Journal)
JFAC holds public budget hearing (Sandpoint Bee)
Bill to nullify federal gun law (TF Times News)
Gooding superintendent departure deal (TF Times News)

Hynix redevelopment considered (Eugene Register Guard)
Governor OKs mascot bill (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune)
Hermiston's affordability (Hermiston Herald)
Hermiston mayor may reorganize boards (Hermiston Herald)
Student enrollment up at Hermiston (Hermiston Herald)
Oregon drought declared (KF Herald & News)
Sheriff warns of effects of budget cuts (KF Herald & News)
Rain helps water supply (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Medford attorney runs for circuit court (Ashland Tidings)
Teacher strike talks failing (Medford Tribune)
Lake Oswego biotech accused of insider action (Portland Oregonian)
OHSU wants $200 million for cancer center (Portland Oregonian)

Feds clear path for pot banking (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Mammoth tusk in Seattle found in construction (Seattle Times, Longview News)
I-84 closure makes Stevenson busy (Vancouver Columbian)
Snowpack still low (Vancouver Columbian)
Candidates turn up for Hastings seat (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima teachers may file complaint (Yakima Herald Republic)