Writings and observations

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

Powerful State Senator Richard Devlin may face a challenge in November after all. Though no Republicans filed for Senate District 19 (Lake Oswego, Tualatin, West Linn), Independent Party Member Rick Miller has formed a committee and has conducted polling to test the viability of an Independent candidacy.

SD-19 registrations are: Democratic 43%; Republican 31%, Non Affiliated 21%, Independent Party 5%.

In 2010 Devlin easily defeated Conservative Charter School advocate Mary Kremer (spouse of Republican right wing activist Rob Kremer), 55% to 45%. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the District is reliably Democratic.

Back in 2010 Republican Steve Griffith, who polling showed would have likely been a much tougher general election opponent for Devlin, was defeated in the 2010 Republican primary by Kremer. Griffith had a stellar resume of accomplishment, including serving as Chair of the Portland School Board. But his candidacy ran into the conservative buzz saw that is now standard Oregon Republican primary politics.

Absent a surprising write in campaign for the Republican nomination, there will be no one appearing on the ballot in November as a Republican.

If Millers polling is similar to Griffiths back in 2010 then a right of center moderate nominee of the Independent Party could result in a dynamic one on one general election.

Particularly if Miller is intent on devoting even a small portion of his abundant assets to the race. In 2010, Devlin spent over a million dollars to protect his seat, while Kremer spent about $280,000 challenging him. If Miller decides to run, then the resources should be much more equal. And this could be the most expensive Legislative race in the history of Oregon politics.

Which brings up one interesting issue – Will Senator Devlin and Mr. Miller actively seek to secure the Republican nomination through a write in campaign? It could make sense for Miller to secure the Republican nomination. Given Oregon’s cross nomination law, it would allow Miller the option – though not the requirement – of listing himself on the ballot as first an Independent, and secondly a Republican.

While Devlin would never include the Republican nomination on his ballot line, he may want to prevent Miller from listing both nominations. More remotely, Devlin may even recruit a Republican write in candidate to campaign for the Republican nomination. That would be a potentially fatal blow to Millers candidacy. If a Republican write in candidate does suddenly appear in the next week, look for Devlin supporters to be financing that candidacy. Of course, I’d recommend they save their treasure for the general election. It’s going to get expensive.

UPDATE: 3:42 PM 4/17/14: Willamette Week has a nice article with a statement from Miller. And, if you read the comments section, it looks like Democratic forces have already started their personal smear campaign.

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Harris Oregon

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Kevin Richert, who for more than a decade was one of the best editorial writers in Idaho, has a new bragging right. He’s also one of the Gem State’s reporters, earning the title of “Reporter of the Year” by the Idaho Press Club.

The award was richly deserved – and made more impressive by the fact that he beat out two high quality reporters from the Idaho Statesman, Sven Berg and Katy Moeller. It’s ironic that the top award goes to someone who does not work for the traditional print media. Idaho Education News is based online, but it’s the best place to find out what’s happening in education and Richert does a great job.

The Idaho Press Club also has proclaimed a new kingpin on the print side in the Treasure Valley. The Idaho Press-Tribune was given the top award for general excellence, beating out the Times-News of Twin Falls and the Idaho Statesman. That award is surprising, because the Press-Tribune was in the top three in only a a few categories. The Statesman, which has an outstanding reporting staff, has enough awards to decorate a wall. The Times-News also has a generous number of awards.

So, how does the Press-Tribune get first place and the Statesman get third? I suspect the difference is on the editorial page, which is the heart and soul of any newspaper. The Press-Tribune under Phil Bridges, another Statesman alum who is making good, produces editorials that are worth reading. At the Statesman, the in-house material on the editorial page is the newspaper’s weakest link.

No doubt, there are high fives going throughout the newsroom in Nampa. But I can’t take the Press-Tribune seriously for “general excellence” until it upgrades its political and Statehouse coverage. Nampa is Idaho’s second largest city, the politics in Canyon County are hot and heavy, and there’s no excuse to leaving coverage to a depleted Associated Press staff.

The top award in that editorial writing category went to Jon Alexander of the Times-News, who has shown that longevity is not the only criteria to producing quality material. Third place went to Michael O’Donnell with the Idaho State Journal, which over time has gone from one of the worst pages to one of the best.

Of course, no award in the editorial writing category would be complete without entries from Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune and Corey Taule of the Post-Register – who are two of my favorites. But neither they, nor their newspapers, submit entries for the Idaho Press Club awards.

Critics refer to Marty as “Shrillhaase,” but nobody has a greater passion for the job or deeper institutional knowledge about state politics. Corey has a more laid-back personality than Marty, but he’s not afraid to challenge the political establishment, which is what an editorial page is supposed to do.

My top three are Trillhaase, Alexander and Taule in that order. But Bridges and O’Donnell are not far behind. This Fab-Five gives Idaho a good variety of commentary.

I know, awards don’t tell everything about journalistic quality. In the few I’ve won, I thought the judges must have been some of the brilliant people ever born. When I’ve lost out, I questioned the judges’ ability to read and write.

But the awards serve a useful purpose, both on the print (the area in which I am more familiar) and the electronic sides. They give managers an indication of where their news operations are strong and where improvements are needed.

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Idaho Malloy

news

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)

Ruling ahead on Idaho same sex marriage rule (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Another Bujak trial gets underway (Boise Statesman)
Looking at race for state treasurer (IF Post Register)
Lewiston school board may take building to ballot (Lewiston Tribune)
Whitman Co still working on credit rating (Moscow News)
WA college tuition growing rapidly (Moscow News)
Otter campaigns through Latah County (Moscow News)
Census finds fewer farms but more acreage (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa plans stoplight changes (Nampa Press Tribune)
Children wandering off in Pocatello (Pocatello Journal)
Building a Pocatello semi-pro baseball team (Pocatello Journal)
Flooding disaster called at Bingham Co (Pocatello Journal)
Working the details on TF canyon jump (TF Times News)
New Gooding school leader hired (TF Times News)
McCain Foods development at Burley ‘on pause’ (TF Times News)

OSU dismissed basketball coach Robinson (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette Times)
No sex assault charges for UO players (Eugene Register Guard)
Geothermal plant at Paisley this summer (KF Herald & News)
Juggling foster home availability (KF Herald & News)
Low supplies on gun ammo in area (KF Herald & News)
Ashland may raise utility rates (Ashland Tidings)
FAA still considering east Oregon drones (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Kitzhaber helps with heart attack (Portland Oregonian)
Trail blazers head to semi-finals (Portland Oregonian)

Snohomish slows land use planning for Oso (Everett Herald)
Bill Frank, tribal leader, dies (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald)
Rattlesnake Mountain tours allowed by judge (Kennewick Herald)
Clallam development director inquiry done (Port Angeles News)
Boil keeps Nippon biomass firm closed (Port Angeles News)
Tuition rising fast at WA colleges (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver Council reviewing oil shipping (Vancouver Columbian)
New Clark commissioner hiring held off (Vancouver Columbian)

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