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Posts published in September 2014

A Kansas lesson for Oregon Republicans?

harris ROBERT


Independent candidate Greg Orman (Kansas) has just received a huge boost in his race for US Senate in heavily Republican Kansas.

Democratic nominee Chad Taylor dropped out of the election leaving independent Orman to face Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts in November.

The key takeaway from this for Oregon Republicans should be that in a jurisdiction tilted heavily towards one major party, the smaller major party can strategically choose not to field a candidate if there is a viable moderate in the race. And good things will happen.

In a Multnomah County State House race a moderate independent would likely outperform a Republican candidate. If nothing else this would force the Multnomah County Democrats to spend on their own general elections and prevent the leadership from shipping their campaign treasuries off to swing districts.

There is current precedent in Oregon. But it’s the Democratic Party who “got it”.

Democrat Ryan Howard was set to run in heavily Republican Oregon House District 25 (Yamhill Co). But once Independent Party member Chuck Lee entered the race, Howard switched and is running against Republican Kim Thatcher for Senate District 13, which isn’t quite as Republican. Chuck Lee won the Independent Party nomination and won the Democratic write in vote and will be one on one against Republican nominee and very conservative talk show host Bill Post. (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)

Over 8 years Idaho pays $1.2b for Medicaid expansion elsewhere (Boise Statesman)
Searching for middle ground on Boise bike lanes (Boise Statesman)
Snake aquifer levels reported as stable (IF Post Register)
Students going back to school (IF Post Register, Moscow News)
WA court presses legislature on schools (Moscow News)
ISU instructor shoots self in foot (Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
Tangled traffic in downtown Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
Ford Idaho Center bring in new scoreboard (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa cops watch for skateboard, bikes (Nampa Press Tribune)
Otter won't debate at TF, will elsewhere (TF Times News)
Hoof care manufacturer will build at Jerome (TF Times News)

Eugene city hall demolition starts (Eugene Register Guard)
Warmer and drier conditions in September? (KF Herald & News)
Klamath college reviews shooting security (KF Herald & News)
Pacific Green Senate candidate files false info (Medford Tribune)
Atiyeh recalled at memorial service (Portland Oregonian, Sale Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune)
State GMO efforts draw little fed response (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Athena's loss of PGG store damaging (Pendleton E Oregonian)
AG says state negligent in prison inmate death (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Cover Oregon board votes on its future (Portland Oregonian)

Supreme Court pushes again on schools (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian)
Snohomish auditor may give up some computers (Everett Herald)
Olympic peninsula hit with net outage (Port Angeles News)
Ferry exec reprimanded by DOT leader (Seattle Times)
22 Hilltop mobile park residents forced out (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma cell phone tracker told council (Tacoma News Tribune)
Yakima plans anti-gang efforts (Yakima Herald Republic)

George Hansen’s lasting legacy

peterson MARTIN

When former Idaho Congressman George Hansen passed away recently, the news stories focused on his troubles with the law, times in prison and his trips to Iran during the hostage crisis. There was no mention of any sort of lasting legacy left by Hansen. But the case can be made that he left a huge, although entirely unanticipated, legacy.

Hansen could be described as Idaho’s first tea party Republican. But were his wife Connie to have heard such a remark, she would quickly comment that the Hansen’s had nothing to do with anything containing caffeine. No, while he really was a precursor to the tea party movement, that wasn’t his lasting legacy.

That legacy is tied directly to his 1968 senate campaign against Senator Frank Church. Frank Church was seeking a third term in the senate and Hansen was a formidable opponent. In my mind, the two most effective political campaigners in Idaho’s recent history were George Hansen and Bethine Church. But I would give the nod to Hansen, primarily because he stood nearly a foot taller than Mrs. Church, which gave him the advantage in working a crowd.

Hansen was legendary in his ability to work a crowd and seek support. Nothing illustrates that better than his conviction for defrauding Idaho banks and about 200 investors of $30 million in an investment scheme. Of the 200 individuals he defrauded, 100 wrote letters to Judge Edward Lodge indicating that they had willingly given him their money and that, even though they lost it all, they didn’t feel they were defrauded.

Hansen’s entry into the 1968 Senate race sent a strong signal to Senator Church and his staff. This was going to be an incredibly difficult race and it would require organizing a re-election campaign unlike any that Idahoans had previously seen. Church was an outspoken environmentalist who supported the creation of wilderness areas. He was also an outspoken critic of the war in Vietnam. Both of these issues ran against the grain of many Idahoans at the time.

Church was surrounded by some of the best political minds in Idaho. Carl Burke, a Boise attorney and his childhood best friend, chaired the campaign. Verda Barnes, Church’s chief of staff, was one of the finest and best connected political organizers Idaho has ever seen. He had a highly experienced staff, including Jerry Brady who would later run twice for Governor, who were focused on his re-election.

The resulting Church campaign was filled with many Idaho firsts. Church opened the first congressional field office in Idaho and staffed it with Billie Jeppesen, who would later go to Washington to be the personal secretary for Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus.

It was also the first Idaho campaign to use 4 by 8 foot “Minnie” billboards. A thirty minute campaign film was produced that aired on television and was shown at political functions throughout the state. And there were Spanish language bumper stickers.

But the innovation that had the greatest impact on Church’s re-election effort was the development of a statewide voter identification program. Idaho had never seen a similar effort of this magnitude. Volunteers went door-to-door filling out forms on voter preferences, all in the days before the use of computers and phone banks. The identification of pro-Church, leaning to Church and uncommitted voters was critical to the success of the campaign.

Voters leaning to Church and uncommitted were targeted to bring them firmly into the pro-Church camp. On election day, a well-organized get-out-the-vote program was activated to try to get every last voter leaning to Church to the polls to vote.

On election day, the results were remarkable. Church obtained 60% of the vote and carried forty of Idaho’s forty-four counties.
While Hansen lost and went on to face all of his self-inflicted future problems, he forced Church to do things that had previously been unknown in Idaho political races. And this is where Hansen’s lasting legacy comes in.

Two years later, in 1970, the Church organization had kept much of its 1968 campaign organization in place, including the voter identification and get-out the vote programs. This was of critical importance to Cecil Andrus’ campaign for Governor. It undoubtedly made the difference and opened the door for the rest of his remarkable political career.

Were the last half of Frank Church’s Senate career and the political success of Cecil Andrus the lasting legacies of George Hansen? I think a strong case can be made for that.

Marty Peterson is a native of the Lewiston Clarkston Valley. He is retired and lives in Boise.

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)

Boise School races favor incumbents, Cronin (Boise Statesman)
Nez Perce Co approved budget (Lewiston Tribune)
Luna's proposed budget raise his largest ever (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Nampa gun ordinance headed for rewrite (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell urban agency settled on King's plan (Nampa Press Tribune)
Instuctor at ISU shoots himself accidently (Pocatello Journal)
TF city insurers reject storm claims (TF Times News)

State forestry rebalancing logging rules (Corvallis Gazette)
Corvallis city considers housing, new manager (Corvallis Gazette)
Regional study ties warming to people (Eugene Register Guard)
Bucket Brigate monument may return (KF Herald & News)
Harry & David bought by NY florist (Medford Tribune)
Atkinson family lodge threatened by fires (Medford Tribune)
Farm fields burning in wildfires (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton prison lockdown lasted 5 days (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Former hospital being demolished (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Propane operators wants Portland terminal (Portland Oregonian)
OHSU gets $25 million grant on HIV vaccine (Portland Oregonian)

Rules on signs reconsidered in Kitsap (Bremerton Sun)
Everett port may hire director from inside (Everett Herald)
Drive-through bikini coffee/brothel operators pleads guilty (Everett Herald)
No more rental help available at Cowlitz (Longview News)
Traffic cameras on again at Longview (Longview News)
Protests interrupt trains at Everett (Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Clallam commissioners cap jail costs (Port Angeles News)
Bottom-dwelling fish recovering well (Seattle Times)
First WA charter school at Seattle opens (Seattle Times)
More metered parking headed to Tacoma (Tacoma News Tribune)
Legislators will be considering pot again (Vancouver Columbian)
Concerns on prices for E WA pears (Yakina Herald Republic)

Running against Elvis

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

People in Meridian don’t attend city council meetings and only 10 percent of school district voters bothered to cast ballots in the last bond election. But when Congressman Raul Labrador comes in for a town hall meeting, a standing-room-only crowd waits for him at city hall – which poses a big problem for State Rep. Shirley Ringo of Moscow, Labrador’s Democratic opponent for the 1st District congressional seat.

She is running against a political rock star.
He’s a Puerto Rican version of John F. Kennedy. He has a quick wit and his humor often is self-depreciating, which is a big hit with the audience. He asks the crowd not to boo questions they might not like, “but if you don’t like my answer, then you can boo me – as long as it’s with love and kindness.”

He talks about President Obama being an ideologue and gives praise to former President Clinton for being a “pragmatic politician” who was smart enough to take credit for Republican accomplishments – such as creating a government surplus. He has charts illustrating how the nation is heading down the tubes if it doesn’t get spending under control and warns that Social Security for him (at 46) and people younger will not look the same as it does today. Changes need to be made.

Not all his criticism is directed at Obama and liberal Democrats. Republicans, he says, will go nowhere unless they do a better job identifying what they are for – rather than what they are against.

Labrador doesn’t always let facts get in the way of good political rhetoric. One questioner asked why he has not cosponsored legislation that would help revive the U.S. Postal Service. He said the postal employees helped create the mess by signing off on a retirement plan that would help employees not even born yet. Actually, it was Congress that created the plan in 2006, bringing the Postal Service to the brink of bankruptcy.

But his explanation sounded good and his analysis of the federal deficit, and other issues, made sense. He promises to continue to “fight for less government, less spending, more accountability and … to fight for the people of Idaho.” (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)

Looking ahead at wilderness (Boise Statesman)
Measuring intelligence of bears at WSU (Lewiston Tribune)
Looking at Owyhee canyonlands (Nampa Press Tribune)
Otter's race complicated by Tea Party (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Pine Bowl alley closes down (Pocatello Journal)
Lots of new school principals in Magic Valley (TF Times News)

Eugene rehab center expands (Eugene Register Guard)
Mushroom harvest notably popular this year (KF Herald & News)
School safety program funded (KF Herald & News)
Prospect fire roars near Medford (Medford Tribune)
Southern Oregon summer heat hit records (Medford Tribune)
Boardman will consider funding fire station (Pendleton E Oregonian)
More felonies reported in Umatilla County (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Math, reading scored dampened by absenteeism (Portland Oregonian)
Richardson fields quries on campaign finance (Salem Statesman Journal)

Legislature, court battle again over schools (Everett Herald)
Gun measures divide WA law enforcement (Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Neah Bay gets large dock project (Port Angeles News)
Olympic Peninsula gets more health plans (Port Angeles News)
Rural docs scramble for newly insured (Seattle Times)
Schools dealing with Common Core (Tacoma News Tribune)

In the briefings


The Washington State Department of Natural Resources opened a new trail for mountain bikes August 30, in Tiger Mountain State Forest in eastern King County. The addition of the 2.5-mile-long Off-the-Grid Trail increases the forest’s mountain bike trail system to approximately 15 miles. (photo/Washington Department of Natural Resources)


In this coming week, Monday is Labor Day, and after that – the general election campaign season gets underway in earnest. Some political ads have been airing up to this point, but the number will increase greatly in the next few weeks. Only about six weeks remain, after all, until ballots begin to hit the mail.

In Idaho, the Snake River Basin Adjudication has been one of the most significant legal-economic-environmental developments in Idaho over the last quarter-century, though it has proceeded quietly, mostly, over the last decade or so. Last week, a milestone: The signing of the final, or unified, decree. Look for coverage in the View and Legal sections.

Jim Risch could lose

carlson CHRIS


Most voters start to pay attention to November elections after Labor Day. Here’s a gut guess that by mid-October Jim Risch will recognize that many voters have figured out he’s done nothing but vote no on everything, has been “mailing it in,” and is taking re-election for granted.

In addition, with virtually no television advertising, voters will have learned Risch has a worthy opponent who, if elected, will work for the people of Idaho. Yes, a perfect storm and a lucky break may have to happen to put Boise attorney Nels Mitchell in position to pull off the upset, but it could happen.

One key will be the phenomenal success Mitchell’s social media strategist, Morgan Hill, will enjoy. He convincingly can demonstrate his strategy is well on its way to penetrating homes of all voters who have computers.

Hill’s credentials are impeccable. Some credit him with the succcessful repeal of the “Luna Laws” because of his skill at using the Facebook connections of teachers and administrators to get out the repeal message. Republicans, with all their money, have nothing to match it.

Nels Mitchell is also demonstrating an ability to adapt as he campaigns. Initially, he talked only about Risch’s negatives. Now he skillfully weaves in a personal narrative that is starting to resonate.

And Risch is reacting. Mitchell has hit Risch hard in a newspaper ad that he will be a “working senator,” as opposed to the “coasting senator” Risch is. In an August appearance on a southeast Idaho radio station the friendly interviewer repeated a half dozen times how hard Risch is working for the people of Idaho.

It just ain’t so, but as Risch knows, you repeat the Big Lie often enough most people will believe it. However, in his case recent polling still shows his automatic re-elect to be well below the 50% number. For whatever reason, a lot of voters have doubts.

Mitchell’s challenge is to let voters know there is a worthy opponent without having virtually any money to build his name identification in the traditional way. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has from the very beginning written Mitchell off. This has led the traditional Labor PACS to follow suit and not contribute either. The advantage is Mitchell will arrive in D.C. beholden virtually to no one other than the people who elected him.

Since Mitchell, from his first day, also said he would only serve one term he will not have to spend time dialing for dollars begging special interest groups to contribute. (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)

Wilderness opposition in north Idaho (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
WA legislature sues on school funding (Moscow News)
Students often missing fare less well (Moscow News)
Feds may tighten railroad right of way rules (Nampa Press Tribune)
Staying out of jail on probation expensive (Nampa Press Tribune)
Wind energy looking for trained workers (TF Times News)
Twin Falls schools try new reading teaching (TF Times News)

UO trying for re-emphasis around genetics (Eugene Register Guard)
More Medford utility bills goes unpaid (Medford Tribune)
Concordia law school accreditation issues (Portland Oregonian)
Reviewing wilderness in Oregon (Portland Oregonian)

On-line retailers at Kitsap doing well (Bremerton Sun)
State trooper disciplined after collision (Everett Herald)
WA legislature sues on school funding (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Hanford clears two more tanks of waste (Kennewick Herald)
Drones banned from Olympic National Park (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Deep splits on gun initiatives (Port Angeles News)
Government considered as job maker (Spokane Spokesman)