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Posts published in “Day: October 25, 2014”

Has the ground changed?

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

Think for a moment of political news, background and impressions, falling from the skies upon the electorate, like rain. It may be the rain that soaks you and makes you wet and miserable or it may be the rain causing flowers to bloom and crops to grow. Depends on your perspective.

A good deal of such rain has fallen in Idaho’s campaign seasons this year. From the batch of scandal-like problems associated with Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter (private prison, broadband for schools and more), to the financial issues attached to Treasurer Ron Crane, to the personal assessments of Secretary of State candidate Lawerence Denney, to the many missteps of Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Sherri Ybarra, and others too, there’s been a lot, especially of the negative kind. Republican candidates, who are the kind that almost always, in the last 20 years, have emerged winners in the November elections, have provided a lot of it.

This rain of bad headlines, gaffes, missteps and so on has been seized on by people watching Idaho’s elections, and with reason. Such problems have, in years past, derailed any number of Idaho candidates, and some of the complaints and criticisms have been serious enough to go to the heart of the jobs these people are seeking.

A meaningful political analysis has to go one step further, though. Even flood-level amounts of rain won’t make the crops grow or the flowers bloom if it does not fall on receptive soil. Rain falling on concrete simply runs off, at least in the short term.

Idaho’s electorate (to carry the analogy one uneasy step further) used to be gently rototilled, open to new information and ideas and news, willing to adjust its views. It has become less so in the last couple of decades - much more hard-packed, less receptive, than it used to be.

People looking for changes in, say, the governor’s race, need to look not just at the rain but at something that would churn the hard-packed soil, to make it more receptive to changes in the environment.

Maybe it’s there and just not very visible, but so far I’m not seeing much change on the ground. Nor am I picking up many indicators of it.

To explain this a little further, here’s a small plot of Idaho political ground where conditions may be more receptive: The race for Superintendent of Public Instruction. One factor is the many problems Republican Ybarra has faced, and the steady campaign of Democrat Jana Jones. (more…)

On the front pages

news

The overwhelmingly dominant news story today was the high school shooting in Marysville, one that seems to break the usual pattern of these events: The shooting apparently was not random or aimed at a large number of people, but was specific and personal, a more conventional murder. That will not make it less shocking.

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)

Gas prices fall at Lewiston area (Lewiston Tribune)
Two dead in Marysville school shooting (Moscow News)
More reports of sexual assaults at WSU this year (Moscow News)
Candidates closing in on last campaign days (TF Times News)

Action speeds up on I-5 cable barriers (Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette)
Two dead in Marysville school shooting (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Corvallis Gazette, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Much debate over drivers card issue (Corvallis Gazette)
Barnhart decries ads on killers early release (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath Trail Alliance digging at Spence Mountain (KF Herald & News)
Property taxes rising at Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Jackson sheriff defended in campaign fraud case (Medford Tribune)
House district 58 candidates both from little Cove (Pendleton E Oregonian)
DuPont Pioneer funds $4.6m against GMO issue (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Analysts look at predicting legislative races (Portland Oregonian)

Two dead in Marysville school shooting (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Three new mental health facilities planned (Bremerton Sun)
Reviewing tornado damage in Longview (Longview News)
Pot ad features King sheriff, blasted by other sheriffs (Longview News)
Lacey budget maintains staff, programs (Olympian)
Ridgefield bans marijuana sales (Vancouver Columbian)
GOP officials filing ethics complain on funds transfer (Vancouver Columbian)