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Posts published in “Day: June 12, 2014”

Speaker Simpson, revisited

carlson CHRIS


Idaho’s Second District congressman, Mike Simpson, has to be one of the nation’s few prominent non-Tea Party Republicans not shedding any tears over the stunning upset and defeat of Virginia congressman and Majority Leader Eric Cantor earlier this week.

Indeed, he has to be smiling like a Chesire cat.

Without having to lift a finger, or stab a colleague in the back, a major hurdle was eliminated in a possible path to the Speakership by the wily yet charming Idahoan. Historically, a party’s majority leader often becomes the Speaker, a powerful post in our system of checks and balances government, and second in line of succession to the Presidency.

Simpson is thought to aspire to the office but early on he must have recognized that it would be difficult to pursue the traditional path wherein an aspirant first runs for either the number three leadership post, that of Party whip, currently held by California congressman Kevin McCarthy, or the number four post, caucus secretary, held by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington state’s Fifth Congressional District (Spokane).

A member of the leadership then bides his or her time until a Speaker retires and in theory everyone moves up a slot. That’s the theory, but of course the reality often leads to some nasty internal fights not always soothed over after the results are known.

Simpson appears to have adopted a different path. A good judge of horse flesh, he indirectly attached his political star to that of Ohio congressman John Boehner, becoming both a friend and a close personal advisor to the future Speaker and a member of the so-called “inner circle.” He carefully avoided running for any of the leadership posts because inevitably one makes a few enemies by becoming an overt rival.

The former Speaker of the Idaho House and former dentist from Blackfoot also instinctively understood that if one is a formal member of a Speaker’s leadership team, then he or she is identified with the bad as well as the good policies and positions that are taken by a Speaker. This can be both a blessing and a curse, but as Eric Cantor found out, it can lead to a muddled middle ground on a divisive issue like immigration reform that ends up alienating both sides.

By staying out of a formal leadership role Simpson can pick and choose carefully which national issues he may want to take a more visible stance on. (more…)

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)

Bergdahl's writings examined (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Meridian schools pursue $104m in bonds (Boise Statesman)
Conflict on nonprofit meals on wheels program (Boise Statesman)
INL plutonium accident yield new legal case (IF Post Register)
Idaho sugar beet growers seek Mexico limits (IF Post Register)
Activists question Lewiston port larger dock (Lewiston Tribune)
Idaho Republicans coming to Moscow (Moscow News)
UI receives $16 million med research grant (Moscow News)
Canyon County gets first public defender (Nampa Press Tribune)
New St. Alphonsus medical site near (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa might see profit from new garage (Nampa Press Tribune)
Blaine commissioner talks Bergdahl (TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
ISU working out campus gun costs (Pocatello Journal)

Sather housing project clears on wetlands (Corvallis Gazette)
Graduating class hits record at OSU (Corvallis Gazette)
Troutdale shooter identified as student (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Filmmakers tracking OR-7 (KF Herald & News)
Ashland area water pipeline set for August (Ashland Tidings)
High reward over who lit Bend wildfire (Ashland Tidings)
New leadership for Cover Oregon unclear (Salem Statesman Journal)
Doakes Ferry Road gets opposition (Salem Statesman Journal)

Manager at Paine Field will retire (Everett Herald)
Firm contracted to sift through mess at Oso (Everett Herald)
Lynnwood mayor delivers state of city (Everett Herald)
Veteran KING anchor Enerson retires (Seattle Times)
McMorris Rodgers won't go for Cantor seat (Spokane Spokesman)
Business suit against WSDOT dismissed (Spokane Spokesman)
More about Troutsale shooter (Vancouver Columbian)
Many state laws go into effect (Vancouver Columbian)
Legal challenge to Seattle minimum wage (Vancouver Columbian)
New bus station for downtown Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)

Not taking the bait

stapilus RANDY

The View
from Here

While such factors as immigration and Democratic crossover may have slightly padded the stunning Tuesday primary loss by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, some of the most careful analysis of the loss seems to point to something else: The feeling that Cantor had lost touch with his district.

There was the sense that he wasn't back home much, that he was always on the tube or in DC, and that when he did show up he was surrounded by a heavily armed security detail. How would an average citizen get a word with him?

Compare that to standard practice in, say, Oregon, where elected officials routinely visit back home and are quite accessible when they do.

But then, the idea of rising a little too high in Washington and losing that local connection is not a strange concept in the Northwest. Decades ago, Oregon Representative Al Ullman had risen to a position of real power in the House only to be taken out back home when people saw he wasn't getting back to the district very often. In 1994, people in eastern Washington had some of the same view - probably with less justification - about Tom Foley, then the House speaker. And he too lost.

As it happens, the current Republican representatives in each of those same districts, Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Washington and Greg Walden in Oregon, are in House leadership right now, albeit at a lower and less visible level than Foley - or Cantor. Either of them might be a plausible contender for Cantor's leadership post, from which he is planning to resign this summer.

Indications are that they aren't going for it. Walden hasn't had a lot to say about the situation, and McMorris Rodgers seems to have swept aside the idea of what's now looking like a crowded race for the number two job in the House.

They may be wise to take that attitude. Both have what look like secure seats at conditions stand. But sometimes the risk increases as you fly closer to the sun, and they may be well aware of that.