Writings and observations

idaho RANDY

The primary – which it still sort of is, despite its top-two functionality – in Washington often is regarded as a massive straw poll, a clear indicator of where things are headed in the November general election.

Often it provides good markers, especially when the results are strongly decisive. The incumbent members of Congress, for example, all came away with big leads in the primary. (That includes Suzan DelBene in the 1st, who many observers insisted was facing a close general election. If she is, it would mark a huge reversal from the primary.)

Closer primary results are another matter. Two of them jump out for interest come November.

One is in the 4th congressional district, where veteran incumbent Republican Doc Hastings is retiring. The issue isn’t which party will control the seat; in the strongly Republican 4th, that seems a given. But a large number of Republicans were competing for the seat, and the outcome was unclear.

This week, the field was led by Clint Didier, a former pro football player now aligned with Tea Party and NRA interests, who has run for office twice before unsuccessfully, and Dan Newhouse, a former state legislator from the area who could be considered a more centrist conservative, who led the state’s Department of Agriculture in former Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire’s administration.

The contrast between the two is almost as clear as if their party labels were different. Didier will draw from the Tea Party and cultural right (his loud support for keeping the Redskins football team name helped ensure that), and Newhouse will draw from the left, probably including most Democratic voters. Didier led in the crowded field, but Newhouse seems to have most of the early money for the general, because he has the opportunity to grab backing from more blocks of voters.

It will be a clear-cut contest. Much more clear cut than the primary was.

So, likely, will be the contest in legislative district 35, where long-time Senator Tim Sheldon appears to have come in second place.

Sheldon is in a key spot in the Washington Senate. Nominally a Democrat, he often has sided with Senate Republicans and at the beginning of this current term joined with fellow nominal Democrat Rodney Tom, and the chamber’s Republicans, to form a majority coalition dominated by Republicans, which among other things blocked large parts of new Governor Jay Inslee’s agenda (and the Democratic House’s). The contest for who will control the Senate in the next term remains closely fought.

The results not being entirely final yet, there’s a possibility in that in this close contest – he was running against Democrat Irene Bowling and Republican Travis Couture – his vote might slip to third place, and he could be shut out in the general election. For the moment, however, the situation looks like Bowling is in first place, Sheldon in second and Couture in third.

If so, a surface reading at least of the situation would suggest Sheldon survives in November. He would seem likely to pick up most of Couture’s vote, which would give him a clear advantage. But how many Sheldon Democratic voters have stuck with him in general elections past because he was faced with a Republican? Might some of Sheldon’s traditional Democrats peel off under those conditions? And if the contest is close, what might result from the difference in voting population (and it will be different) between the primary and general?

There’s enough material here to generate a bunch of speculations. The coming weeks will give Washingtonians ample time to explore them.

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Washington Washington column

harris ROBERT


Under Independent Party of Oregon rules, the nominating caucus may fill vacancies for any elective position.

Following the July online primary vote which nominated numerous candidates to office, The IPO has declared several House and Senate positions vacant. These seats are ones where no candidate applied, or was qualified by the caucus. Applicants have until August 15th, 2014 to apply.

IPO leaders indicate that they are particularly interested in candidates in districts where currently only one major party candidate will be appearing on the November general election ballot.

They say that in heavily gerrymandered districts where the winner of the dominant party primary is the presumptive winner in November, an independent candidate would offer independents, voters from the non dominant party, and even moderate voters of the dominant party, more choices.

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Harris Oregon


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)

SUPI candidate Ybarra no show at school event (Boise Statesman)
New plans for Boise downtown bike lanes (Boise Statesman)
Improvements in housing markets in IF (IF Post Register)
E Washington elections results (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Genesee grass fire threatens home (Moscow News)
Caldwell’s old Kings building to be razed (Nampa Press Tribune)
Rule Steel hit with OSHA ruling (Nampa Press Tribune)
Flooding hits parts of southern Idaho (Pocatello Journal)
Idaho issued reply in same sex marriage case (TF Times News)
Wildfire funding changes blocked (TF Times News)

Interim management director at Eugene schools (Eugene Register Guard)
Festival of Eugene gets site, needs more (Eugene Register Guard)
Water allocations at Klamath constrict (KF Herald & News)
Rain helping with wildfire battle (KF Herald & News)
Partial containment at Oregon gulch fire (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Virus killing southern Oregon deer (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Old hospital building demolished (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Forest plan blasted by local officials (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Housing scarce in Pendleton, Hermiston (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Tightened rules on pot, daycare providers (Salem Statesman Journal)

Election results (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Olympian, Bremerton Sun, Longview News)
Planning for new Paine Field projects (Everett Herald)
Franklin Co jail hit with abuse lawsuit (Kennewick Herald)
Federal official won’t inspect grain at Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)
Snag Canyon fire develops (Yakima Herald Republic)

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