Writings and observations

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

Several weeks ago Marc Johnson, who has been a Boise consultant, press secretary and journalist, wrote a piece of a blog post that has been sticking in my mind these last couple of weeks. It may stick in yours.

The key sentence in it says this: “The near total history of Democratic success in Idaho, dating back to at least Frank Church’s first election in 1956, has its foundation in Republican mistakes.”

He went on to cite a few examples, but many more are available. Let’s recap, starting with Church, the highly capable campaigner who likely would not have won his first Senate race in 1956 but for the weaknesses of incumbent Republican Herman Welker. Welker had been Senator Joe McCarthy’s closest Senate ally, and McCarthy was by 1956 in national disgrace. Coupled with that, Idahoans were seeing Welker had some kind of serious but unacknowledged physical problem that was causing him to behave erratically; it was widely assumed to be alcoholism but was in fact a brain tumor, which killed him not long after the election.

In 1960, Democrat Ralph Harding was able to beat Republican Representative Hamer Budge after Budge had become too enamored of his committee assignments and lost track of his district.

A decade later, Democrat Cecil Andrus thinly beat incumbent Republican Governor Don Samuelson after a long series of small but embarrassing glitches and an overall weak governorship.

In 1984, it took a string of felony convictions to narrowly remove Republican Representative George Hansen in favor of Democrat Richard Stallings.

In 1990, Republican legislators pushed too far for the state’s preference (at the time at least) on abortion legislation, and Democrats did uncommonly well that year, the last time to date that’s been true. That also happened to be the last time Republicans were as internally divided as they are now, though the emotions didn’t run nearly so hot then.

In 1998, Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Anne Fox was the subject of long strings of negative headlines and criticism, and she lost to Democrat Marilyn Howard, who ran as a capable and low key alternative.

A string of mistakes too in the following decade happened in the single term of Representative Bill Sali, who lost in 2008 to Democrat Walt Minnick.

Taken together, these instances pretty much account for substantial Democratic Idaho wins in the last few decades. A common denominator has been a serious flaw, or flaws, on the Republican side – and a Democratic alternative in place to take advantage when those emerged. (The smooth, functional and harmonious Democratic convention last week at the least gives the impression of a batch of candidates who plausibly could take such advantage.)

Which brings us up to this year, and the question of the moment: Do the Idaho Republicans’ ongoing round of internal battles, some of which have resulted in internationally embarrassing viral moments, have the potential to knock out Republican candidates in this year’s general election? And if so, which?

From here, the jury’s still out.

But I suspect Johnson might agree that the question has become worth asking.

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Idaho Idaho column

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)

Early efforts on natural gas (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Bardenays deals with health care law (Boise Statesman)
Competition heavy for DOE cleanup contracts (IF Post Register)
UI, LCSC dealing with guns on campus (Lewiston Tribune)
Gardner works on smaller Nampa library (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa schools at risk for another financial mess (Nampa Press Tribune)
Should kids under 12 be in big game drawing? (Pocatello Journal)
Drones may help with potato research (Pocatello Journal)
Will drones help with firefighting? (TF Times News)

Bilingual proficiency encouraged in OR (Eugene Register Guard)
UO plans improving scholarship with clusters (Eugene Register Guard)
River suction mining may not stay legal (Medford Tribune)
Conflicts over sex harassment reporting law (Medford Tribune)
What if a quake hit LNG operations at Coos? (Portland Oregonian)
Federal money uncertain for coast cleaning (Salem Statesman Journal)

WA still struggling with money for schools (Everett Herald)
Same sex partnerships become marriages (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Pot may be scarce in some WA stores (Longview News)
Liquor still not cheaper after two private years (Seattle Times)
Researching sea star wasting disease (Seattle Times)
State isn’t properly regulating escalators (Tacoma News Tribune)
Gorge Commission makes pitch for money (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Washington

Washington State University’s weather center has delivered one of its periodic reports on weather changes (much of it is in the Weather section in this issue) and this one, like many of them in recent years, has become compelling reading.
There’s this for example:

“In a span of three years, Washingtonians have experienced both extremes of spring weather. In 2011, the state lived through one of the coolest early growing seasons on record, only to see one of the warmest in recent memory in 2014.”

The state has been whipsawed over the last few years and even in the most recent season. It went from unseasonably warm weather at the beginning of spring to cool and wet, quickly – and the landslide at Oso on the Stillaguamish River may have been attributable in part to just that change.

And then there was this:

“A major heat wave at the end of April caused the high temperature at Long Beach to rise from 58 degrees on April 28 to 88 degrees on April 30. The sweltering reading shattered the previous April record by 12 degrees and marked the warmest temperature since September 2012.

“On May 1, the heat spread eastward and Seattle spiked to 89 degrees. However, a return to onshore flow allowed the daily high to decrease to a more seasonable 69 degrees on May 2.”

Makes you wonder what’s ahead for this year’s summer.

And over the span of the next few years, because these whipsaws have been becoming more pronounced with time.

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