Writings and observations

harris ROBERT


Dr. Monica Wehby is a smart person.

While we speculated that her campaign going dark in July and August was a strategy to let things die down before a big post labor day push, it could alsoWehby v Merkley have been her exercising her discretion to let things play out during the summer and see how things the polling looked in September. Sort of like filling a patient full of antibiotics and seeing how they deal with the infection before taking more serious measures.

Her training makes her analytical, weighing the options, determining the cost and possible outcomes, and not prone to taking courses of action that are expensive yet likely to lead to undesirable results.

She also isn’t a career politician, while that’s a good thing in many ways, it also means she doesn’t have a much to lose by quickly ceding an election she can’t win. A “strong showing” is meaningless to someone who isn’t interested in running for office again.

This week Dr. Wehby didn’t show up for the Willamette Week candidate interview. Her campaign also refused a televised debate between her and Sen. Merkley sponsored by KGW and the Oregonina. The type of even that a candidate like her would beg to feature. But debates and joint appearances take prep time, and while I don’t doubt she could handle the debate with Sen. Merkley if she prepared well, debates are challenging and uncomfortable.

This all leads to one conclusion. She just isn’t into it anymore. She’s minimizing her energy. Maybe making appearances at the local Chambers of commerce, or glad handing at community events. An investment of time at friendly events, but not much psychic energy or putting herself into situations that are uncomfortably confrontational. She’s a short timer in politics and she wants to spend time and energy on thing that matter to her. Her patients and her practice.

If correct, her course of actions is a rational one for a non politician. This is the exact reason why the OR GOP would have been better off with Jason Conger as it’s nominee. This was always going to be a difficult pick up for the GOP. Back in April, we argued that a Conger losing candidacy would be better than a Wehby losing candidacy for the OR GOP. If a loss was inevitable, at least Conger would have a reason to fight to the end. He’d want to build on this campaign and seen as a tested candidate with a ground game and volunteer base to make a run for statewide race in the future. While if Dr. Wehby lost, she would likely fade from the scene and not leave any guiding philosophy or infrastructure for the GOP to use going forward.

At this point, it appears Dr. Wehby may be fading from the scene even before the election. A rational decision by a trained decision maker. And frankly, one many of us would make as well given today’s politics.

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trahant MARK


Montanans have long recognized the importance of the Native vote. Speaking at the National Congress of American Indians in September 1956, U.S. Rep. Lee Metcalf called political participation Native people’s best hope because “Indians are their own best spokesmen, their own best diplomats, but they can only exercise these roles effectively only in proportion to their … combined strength and their concerted voice.”

In other words: The more Native folks who vote, the more power and say we will have over our future.

Montana is an a great example of that promise. And, there is a long list of success stories: The elections of Sen. Jon Tester, Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Tribes, as well as Governors Brian Schweitzer and Steve Bullock (who’s in office now).

You can even argue that because of that success at the ballot, Montana produced the best relationship between tribes and a state government, in well, possibly forever.

As former Gov. Schweitzer once said, “Indians have played a major role in my Administration from day one. They lead departments, provide sound policy advice, run programs, and work tirelessly on my behalf to stay connected to tribal leaders, members, and communities throughout Montana.”

Former Sen. Carol Juneau recently wrote in Char-Koosta News about the state’s leadership role. “We now have three Indian majority senate districts and six Indian majority house districts in Montana that give Indian country a real voice in the direction of our state,” she said. “We have a much stronger state-tribal relationship being built because of this political power.”

Think about the significance of Native Montanans strength and voice. America Indians make up less than seven percent of the state’s population, but have have a say, even determining election winners.

So that’s how it ought to be. Only it’s not always that way — even in Montana.

Juneau’s recent op-ed was about an initiative, LR 126, a measure to eliminate same-day voter registration. “Montana Indians have to help defeat LR 126. We have achieved so much in expanding the Native vote in our state,” she wrote. “LR 126 will change the law for the worse and limit our right to vote, in turn, limiting our voice and power.”

Another setback for Montana Native Americans is the smaller turnout during off-year elections; a sharp reversal from what occurred with the election of Tester and Juneau. Fewer Native voters were at the polls in 2010 when more Tea Party candidates won office.

This political season began with great hope for Montana. But events have jumbled what could have been. In the Senate race, the Democrat’s nominee, Amanda Curtis, only began her campaign in August and must build name recognition as fast as she creates an organization. That’s tough to do. She and Republican House member, Steve Daines, are competing for the Senate post.

There is also an open seat for the House of Representatives and this seat may be the most interesting under-the-radar race in the country.

Democrat John Lewis recently told The Great Falls Tribune: “Campaigning in Indian Country is a huge priority for me. I believe it could be the difference in the election.”

Lewis, a former state director for former Sen. Max Baucus, says on his campaign web site that he “knows that Congress has specific trust obligations to Indian people, and in Congress he will work closely with them, government-to-government.”

His Republican opponent, Ryan Zinke, a former state senator and Navy SEAL, doesn’t mention Native issues on his web site. He’s said in the past that the federal government ought to get out of the way of tribes. (That, in my day, was a code phrase for termination.)

Zinke blames Obama’s “war on coal” for hurting the Crow Reservation. I always cringe when I read that phrase because the price of coal is in a worldwide decline, dropping from a peak of $142 per ton to about half that. The reason has far more to do with China’s consumption than U.S. policy.

And, Zinke’s on the far right side of issues ranging from repealing the Affordable Care Act to his opposition to abortion rights. (The New York Times reminded readers this week that Zinke once called Hillary Clinton “the Antichrist.”)

While both Daines and Zinke say they are interested in reaching out and supporting Native issues, we should be clear about significant policy differences. Both would repeal the Affordable Care Act and have not presented an alternative for funding the Indian health system. Both argue for more federal budget cuts and Daines supported the federal government’s shutdown showdown over the Affordable Care Act.

So could the Native vote produce another upset in Montana? Perhaps. If Native voters turnout to stop the initiative LR 126, then absolutely. But the vote has to look more like 2012 than 2010 for that to happen.

Mark Trahant holds the Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.

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The 30-year sentence given the would-be Portland bomber was substantial, though it may strike some as a little too light. While on one hand no one died in the 2010 incident – in which a college student was in part set up by federal agents with a fake bomb – his intent to carry through with mass murder was clear. At his sentencing hearing, he was reported as being shocked to hear himself talk in such an enthusiastic way about the actions he was planning to take. The case could make for a useful study of mass-killer mindsets, since some of the fog (in this case) seems to have risen.

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)

Rose Beal, rights advocate, dies (Boise Statesman)
Developer asked to add more mixed uses (Boise Statesman)
Transportation secretary visits UI (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Nez Perce gill netting raises concerns (Lewiston Tribune)
Profiling Moscow’s new fire chief (Moscow News)
Commission candidate Freeman back as write-in (Nampa Press Tribune)
New police chief named for Middleeton (Nampa Press Tribune)
Rain makes mud of Pocatello road project (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello mosque begins operations Friday (Pocatello Journal)
Crop disaster designations in 11 counties (Pocatello Journal)
National Republicans run Balukoff attack ad (TF Times News)
Bujak afoul of lawyer ethics rules, court says (TF Times News)
TF commission race centers around pensions (TF Times News)

Portland bomb plotter gets 30 years (Portland Oregonian, Corvallis Gaazette)
Candidates face off in Corvallis ward 6 (Corvallis Gazette)
OSU students reshuffle on parking (Corvallis Gazette)
New-style crosswalk signal at Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Still unclear future on water/electric land (Eugene Register Guard)
KF talking about pot tax numbers (KF Herald & News)
Reviewing construction at Henley Elementary (KF Herald & News)
How GMO politics may shape OR elections (Medford Tribune)
Some wolves may be delisted as endangered (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Bond for local collection planned for 2015 (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Feds allow for extending CRC debts (Portland Oregonian)
Legislation would toughen restraining orders (Salem Statesman Journal)

Officer cleared in Kitsap shooting (Bremerton Sun)
Tidal energy testing dropped, funds gone (Port Angeles News)
Seattle monorail extension back on ballot (Seattle Times)
Inslee urges oil train risk reduction (Vancouver Columbian)
Profiling Clark Commission candidates (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot prices expected to drop with more harvest (Yakima Herald Republic)

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