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Posts published in November 2014

The power of the R (in Idaho)

idaho RANDY

Don't say there was no difference in the received vote between Republican candidates who were noncontroversial and those drowning in negatives in the just-ended campaign. Yes, they all alike won, but the counts varied and even give us some measure of controversial-ness.

Atop the ticket, Senator Jim Risch, whose re-election campaign didn't draw massive public attention, despite strenuous efforts from his opponent, won about 285,000 votes. (I'm rounding off for simplicity.) Fellow Republicans Lawerence Denney for secretary of state won about 44,000 less, C.L. “Butch” Otter for governor about 50,000 less, and Sherri Ybarra for superintendent of public instruction about 68,000 less (barely avoiding a loss). You likely remember, or can Google, the many issues surrounding them.

This means about 40,000 to 60,000 Republicans did split off from an otherwise Republican ballot when presented with compelling arguments to do so. That's significant, and I'll return to them on another occasion. But an operating majority of voters, somewhere around 220,000 of them, were by comparison impervious to the arguments that peeled off other Republicans.

That point is being made not just from the left. Kent Marmon, a sometimes Republican candidate in Canyon County who often critiques the Idaho Republican establishment from the right, said on a Facebook post, “As I watched the election results unfold last night, I couldn't help but think that if Barack Obama moved to Idaho, joined the Republican Party, and ran for office as a Republican.... he could get elected. Issues apparently don't matter. Neither does anything else.”

Also on Facebook, a woman from Nampa (a Democrat) sent an open request to Republican friends: “Please name three (3) reasons you voted for Sherri Ybarra. I'm not being snarky. I genuinely want to know why you would pick Ms. Ybarra over Ms. [Jana] Jones. Serious answers only, please.”

She got about 90 replies, but from down the line Republicans . . . nothing.

Of the many apparently non-Republican respondents, a few said the election was “rigged,” which it was not, and others thought gerrymandering was involved, which it could not have been. One said, “I cannot find a Republican that will admit to voting for her.” But, evidently, a whole lot of them did.

Another: “My guess is that people who voted for her didn't even know what she was running for. They saw the "R" beside her name and colored the circle in. I don't think you will find an educated Republican who did vote for her.” And: “Based on what I heard said: 1) she's Republican. 2) there is a black man in the White House (who wants to take my guns). 3) she's 'good looking'."

A variation: “It simply was the 'obama/bogeyman syndrome' that many in Idaho believe. It started with the IACI labeling Mr. [A.J.] Balukoff as a "liberal" and using that simplistic tactic in all the races. Ibarra with "D" in front of her name would have gotten less than 10% of the vote (taking into account of really stupid voters who pay absolutely no attention to who their voting for) To hear some of the people on fb and KIDO and KBOI, you would think that AJ was the "antichrist" because of the lies spread about him.”

How close to the truth did these latter comments come? Good question. They're guesswork from outsiders speculating about the opposition camp.

One writer said she had a number of Tea Party friends who “are very vocal on their own feed. This thread may not feel safe for them. But holy jelly donut – stand up for what you believe in, otherwise it's just a herd of lemmings talking to themselves in the mirror.”

So I'll pitch a request here, to party-line Republican voters (others, please hold off): Send me a note, at the email address below, noting the main reason or two why you voted for Ybarra, Denney and Otter. Call it a public service. Idaho will be better off if the whole of the state has a clearer idea why its next round of elected leadership was chosen, and few majority voters are clearly explaining that now.

I'll follow up next week.

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)

Simplot GMO potato approved by USDA (Boise Statesman)
Looking into National Guard helicopter crash (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
Republicans look for recount in District 6 (Lewiston Tribune)
Study checks sea lions, chinook links (Lewiston Tribune)
Pocatello nears new comprehensive plan (Pocatello Journal)
Animal cruelty law in Idaho blasted (TF Times News)

What's ahead for Kitzhaber's 4th (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Reguster Guard)
Homeless whoville returns in new spot (Eugene Register Guard)
Irrigators looking for more security for water (KF Herald & News)
Senators seek to confirm ambassador from Portland (KF Herald & News)
Death of cow probably not wolf-related (Medford Tribune)
Study urges people to prepare for wildfire long-term (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston will consider panhandling rules (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Large number of coho in run (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Ethics commission declines answer to Kitzhaber (Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Del Smith, of Evergreen Aviation, dies (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon State Police getting new headquarters (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap prosecutor race narrows again (Bremerton Sun)
Another death in Marysville school shooting (Seattle Times, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Man cops tased awarded $600k (Everett Herald)
Sheldon win in race in 35 concluded (Olympian)
Lewis-McChord named as troop quarantine location (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Simplot GMO potato approved by USDA (Seattle Times)
Two Spokane wine labels shut down (Spokane Spokesman)
Wildfires cut into Washington tourism (Spokane Spokesman)
Pressing for more Tacoma-area sidewalks (Tacoma News Tribune)
Stewart wins Clark Co commission seat (Vancouver Columbian)
AP declares Newhouse winner of 4th House seat (Yakima Herald Republic)

Who voted, and Indian country

trahant MARK


This was a tough election. Those who are against the Affordable Care Act, don’t believe in global warming, and think that President Obama is the cause of all our problems swept into office. We won’t know the final tally for a month or so, but the Republicans picked up at least seven Senate seats, added to their majority in the House and did well in state houses.

But this is how this election was supposed to be. This is how the sixth year of a presidency looks (even for the now sainted Ronald Reagan). The whole premise of 2014 was to get out enough voters together so that the country would not have to take another step backwards. So we didn't beat history.

Worse: We let a determined group of voters chart the next two years. These were voters that were older, more white, and more determined to reverse Obama.

The NBC Exit Poll showed how different this electorate was: Young people voted in smaller numbers than 2012. And, get this, even less than 2010. NBC said: “In today’s midterms, 37% of voters are over the age of 60 but only 12% of are under 30 years old. This 25 point difference is larger than the 16 to 20 point age gap seen in the last three midterms.”

But that same exit poll has this nugget about “a growing perception that the U.S. economic system is unfair. Sixty-three percent of voters said they believe that it generally favors the wealthy, compared to 32 percent who say it is fair to most Americans.”

That is important because it is a notion that can be used to build a policy argument, even in this political climate. (More about policy from me later this week.)

I’ll look more closely at the Native vote in the next few days, but I suspect that turnout was light there too. Cecilia FireThunder posted on my Facebook page saying, “I kinda looked at the numbers and we in Shannon and Bennett Counties did not do as well as we could have. Same thing happened with Tom Daschle, the organizers did not listen to us old timers on what they needed to do differently on the rez. Dems need to accept if they want our support in all things Democrat they have to listen to what works and its why we have to take part, not the candidates or single issues. Lets learn from these glitches and plan ahead every year all year round on Indian reservations in states with large NDN populations like SD where we have 9 reservations and Pine Ridge alone has at least 30,000 plus.”

So what did work? What should we celebrate this morning in Indian Country? Actually there are some bright spots.

There seemed to be enough Navajo voters turning out (even with the confusion on the tribal ballot) to return a Democrat, Ann Kirkpatrick, to Congress in Arizona. (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)

Two die in Idaho Guard copter accident (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Businesses using new state tax incentive (Boise Statesman)
What's behind Grossenbacher departure at INL? (IF Post Register)
Whitman co will work on shoreline program (Moscow News)
Middleton may move to volunteer fire force (Nampa Press Tribune)
Might ruling revive Idaho gay marriage ban? (TF Times News)

What now after Corvallis parking plan defeat? (Corvallis Gazette)
OSU enrollment hits 30k (Corvallis Gazette)
Beach no-smoking plan dropped by state (Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette)
Lane's So Delicious dessert company sold (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene utility district manager quits (Eugene Register Guard)
Small earthquake noted near Lakeview (KF Herald & News)
One violator set air quality noncompliant (KF Herald & News)
Medford council may add space to trail (Medford Tribune)
Former Kim's restaurant space may go to casino (Medford Tribune)
Ceremony ends chemical disposal at Umatilla (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Banner Banks takes over American West (Pendleton E Oregonian)
State forestry sets new harvest zones (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Speeding up work on I-5 cable barrier (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap incumbent prosercutor regains lead (Bremerton Sun)
Private Bainbridge marina may be public park (Bremerton Sun)
Big growth for Lonview auto dealer (Longview News)
Sea lions eating more salmon than expected (Longview News)
Cowlitz prosecutor likely ousted (Longview News)
35th district House race still up for grabs (Olympian)
Many questions are Seattle medical pot (Seattle Times)
Clark county races still up in air (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver pot sellers consider Oregon impact (Vancouver Columbian)
Washington gun background check may become model (Vancouver Columbian)
Newhouse continues to lead Didier in 4th (Yakima Herald Republic)

What the hell just happened?

rainey BARRETT


Well, we had an election. Some of us are pleased with the outcome - some of us are renewing passports and searching the I-net for details of New Zealand’s immigration laws.

Speaking strictly of candidates and not political parties, I’ve never seen a slate of more unqualified, unknowing and woefully unskilled winners. Consider. One governor returned to office owned a company found guilty of numerous counts of Medicaid fraud. That may’ve been how he could afford to throw more than $24-million into his race. Two new members of Congress have felony convictions while a third was re-elected while still under indictment on multiple criminal charges yet to be tried.

There’s the new senator who authored - authored - a bill in both the Colorado legislature and the U.S. House to not just outlaw abortion but also essentially criminalize any form of birth control. Then he claimed he didn’t know that would be the result of his labors - then repeatedly denied any connection with either bill though both still carry his name.

Idaho voters elected a Supt. of Public Instruction who lied about her educational achievements, couldn’t remember when she was divorced or remarried, hadn’t voted in a dozen or so elections and said she had no knowledge of the state’s educational budget but would “study it” if she were successful.

Idaho also elected a new Secretary of State whose honesty and integrity have been repeatedly and publically criticized by his own party and who says he wants to enact new voting laws that would discriminate against and/or disenfranchise some of Idaho’s citizens. And Idaho voters re-elected a State Treasurer who ignored Idaho’s investment statutes while losing more than $10-million in the markets and whose practices were soundly criticized in an official audit.

Idaho’s governor was re-elected, too. Not content with just thanking voters, his acceptance speech included a promise to waste even more tax dollars in repeated attempts to override the federal court decision to allow same sex marriages in the state. He’s already failed twice.

The hog castration lady from Iowa will be a U.S. Senator though she showed repeatedly during the campaign she has limited knowledge of both the job and the role of government in general. And after a campaign in which she admitted always having an automatic pistol on her person - not only for personal protection but also for use at that moment when “government rights” interfere with her “rights.”

There’ll be far too many members of Congress with questionable backgrounds for moral or ethical reasons, criminal convictions, limited knowledge of the offices to which they’ve been elected, positions on issues that would discriminate against certain categories of citizens. Far too many conducted campaigns showing little knowledge of American government - which they will now represent.

But - we’ll survive. We always have. That survival, however, will likely come after a couple of years of deadlock, bad decisions, heated political and economic battles and some very real pain being inflicted on too many Americans. Especially minorities and the poor. Those factors are guaranteed. They were assured by those who voted - and those who didn’t.

The outcome seems to say a majority was disappointed with the direction of things and wanted to go in another direction. That’s as it should be in our Republic. However, the inherent problem with our system is that it doesn’t choose the new direction. Just stop going this way and - in the future - go that way. Seems a lot of winners weren’t chosen so much for what they said or promised but because they weren’t the guy in office. Voters said “No, we don’t want you anymore. We want him or her.” Not so much a choice of candidate as a choice of “something else.” (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)

Republicans win after period of conflict (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
10 Barrel in Boise bought by Anheuser-Busch (Boise Statesman)
INL finds breakthroughs on battery tech (IF Post Register)
Narrow legislative wins by Rusche, Rudolph (Lewiston Tribune)
Forest Service again tries to clarify on photos (Lewiston Tribune)
Possible evictions at Syringa Mobile (Moscow News)
Top executive spots filled at UI (Moscow News)
Idaho gets ready for legal Oregon pot (Nampa Press Tribune)
Canyon Co clerk explains slow vote count (Nampa Press Tribune)
Many part-time adjuncts at CSI (TF Times News)

GMO label battle goes on after defeat (Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Linn-Benton bond appears to pass (Corvallis Gazette)
Oregon pot dispensaries hope to expand (Corvallis Gazette)
Oregon misses Republican tide (Eugene Register Guard)
Marijuana regime changes begin, slowly (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reviewing Klamath school bond success (KF Herald & News)
Klamath irrigators still looking for options (KF Herald & News)
Jackson Co plans pot tax (Medford Tribune)
Election turnout hit 69.5% (Portland Oregonian)
Child dropoffs allowed for newborns, not older (Portland Oregonian)

Kitsap may get Republican prosecutor (Bremerton Sun)
Some legislative races still up for grabs (Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouverl Columbian, Olympian, Port Angeles News)
Challenger to Cowlitz prosecutor still ahead (Longview News)
Background check backers plan for more (Seattle Times)
Banner Banks buys AmericanWest Bank (Spokane Spokesman)
Election results redder in Spokane County (Spokane Spokesman)
Pierce sheriff seeks 32 new staffers (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark officials move to implement new charter (Vancouver Columbian)
Newhouse retains a narrowing lead in CD 4 (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima public broadcaster KYVE may shut down (Yakima Herald Republic)

The Otter message

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Judging by his margin of victory, Gov. Butch Otter sealed the deal on this election long before the Oct. 30 debate on Idaho Public Television. But if there were any doubts about Otter in rural Idaho, where Otter practically is a political folk hero, they were quickly dashed in the debate.

From a rural perspective, Otter, the rodeo cowboy, was going against all the forces of evil. There was a Democratic egghead, a smooth-talking lawyer and a liberal media panel that peppered him with questions about issues that didn’t amount to a jar of tobacco spit – mainly, the prison scandal and settlement amounts.
Otter, the smart politician he is, turned the situation in his favor. He fought back, putting the rich Democrat, the lawyer and the liberal press in their place. A few times, he stood toe to toe with John Bujak, looking him straight in the eye – which, given Bujak’s physical stature, was like staring down Mean Joe Greene.

Somewhere in rural Idaho, someone had to be saying, “You tell ‘em, Butch.” The rural folk couldn’t care less if the settlement amount with Corrections Corporation of America was $1 million, or $1.3 million, or whether he participated in negotiations that gave the CCA a golden parachute. One thing people in rural Idaho can understand is how to deal with tough times, and Otter played those cards just right. It’s easy for people in Boise to talk about spending more for education and raising taxes; it’s a lot tougher for people in rural Idaho to come up with the cash.

For almost an hour and a half, Otter showed a side of him that has been missing for so long. He’s the guy who, as a legislator, voted “not no, but HELL NO,” on a bill he didn’t like. As lieutenant governor, he vetoed a bill to raise the drinking age when the governor was out of town because he didn’t want to yield to the federal government’s blackmail. As a congressman, Otter stood up to a Republican president at the height of his popularity to oppose the Patriot Act, because he thought it trampled on people’s civil rights.

During the talk about the Patriot Act, calls of “You tell ‘em, Butch,” didn’t just come from rural Idaho. Otter was a champion of the people and even the editorial pages gave him credit. (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)

Republicans sweep in Idaho races (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Moscow News)
New bishop, Christensen, for Idaho catholics (Boise Statesman)
Grossenbacher will be replaced as INL head (IF Post Register)
Asotin Co elects new sheriff (Lewiston Tribune)
Agidius loses to Jordan (Moscow News)
More gun background checks approved in Washington (Moscow News)

Legal pot wins at ballot, no to driver cards (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Kitzhaber gets 4th term (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette, Pendleton )
Corvallis rejects parking district plan (Corvallis Gazette)
Klamath passes school bond (KF Herald & News)
Lake Co sheriff race too close (KF Herald & News)
Jackson Co sheriffs race finally decided (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston/Standfield fire district rejected (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Close split on GMO labeling measure (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap elects first R commissioner since 08 (Bremerton Sun)
Gun background check initiative wins (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Bremerton Sun, Olympian)
Washington congressional incumbents win (Everett Herald, Olympian)
Who wins control of Wa Senate? (Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald)
Cowlitz prosecutor may be ousted (Longview News)
Cowlitz PUD board gets new commissioner (Longview News)
Thurston Commission sees change (Olympian)
Close vote on reducing class sizes (Seattle Times)
Republicans romp in Idaho (Spokane Spokesman)
Republicans win in Spokane races (Spokane Spokesman)
Clark Co voters support home rule (Vancouver Columbian)
Newhouse ahead of Didier in House race (Yakima Herald Republic)
Winter elected as Yakima sheriff (Yakima Herald Republic)

Elections: Some quick impressions

stapilus RANDY

The View
from Here

Just a few thoughts this evening - more tomorrow - in looking at the Northwest results. (As is our wont, we'll leave most of the national commentary to other places.)

Talking to a caller early today, I remarked that I didn't see many surprises and didn't expect a lot of change in Northwest politics. With most of the results in, I see no need to change that. While control of the U.S. Senate will change some pictures for the Senate delegation, the in-Northwest political scene changed remarkably little.

Every incumbent member of Congress in the Northwest was re-elected, and not only that, re-elected easily, mostly in landslides, Democrats and Republicans alike.

The two governors up for elections, Democrat John Kitzhaber of Oregon and Republican Butch Otter of Idaho, both under heavily assault in this campaign, won re-election, to a fourth and third term respectively.

The most interesting of the congressional races, in Washington's 4th district, pitted two Republicans against each other, Tea Party activist Clint Didier against the more mainstream former legislator Dan Newhouse. Newhouse, who had the endorsement of the incumbent (Doc Hastings), won, narrowly, tempering the tone of the state's House delegation a smidge.

Washington's legislature looks likely to be split again in the term ahead - the key indicators being the Tim Sheldon and Mark Miloscia - but at least one ballot issue showed no turn away from left-activism by the electorate: The decisive win in favor of expanding background checks for gun purchases. And you can match that up against Oregon's vote in fabor of joining Washington (and Colorado) in the crop of states seeking to legalize marijuana, keeping the issue from remaining a two-state experiment.

A surprising number of Idaho Democrats pulled together scenarios for possible Democratic wins, up to and including the governorship. My take, on radio and elsewhere, was that Democrats had a small edge to win the superintendent of public instruction job, weren't favored but could come close for secretary of state, and would be unlikely to win elsewhere among major offices. Some horn tooting, then: Democrat Jana Jones may have won for superintendent (just as this is written, the vote is a dead heat - we'll know more later), Democrat Holli Woodings has a decent percentage but still is losing for secretary, and no other Democrats were coming close.

My call, though, for most significant Idaho election of the night - assuming that later returns uphold the early - is in a House seat in District 15, a west-Boise district held easily for decades by Republicans, but essential to a breakthrough into the suburbs if Democrats are ever going to gain significantly in Idaho. Those early results showed Democrat Steve Berch, who has run for the House twice before (two years ago in this district) defeating well-established incumbent Republican Lynn Luker. The other two incumbent Republicans in 15 also were on the razor's edge, and could go either way tomorrow. A decade from now, these votes in District 15 may be seen as the most significant event - as regards change - in this election year in Idaho. [UPDATE: Late results did change the totals significantly in the District 15 races, giving the three Republicans there wins; so this year was not the year it turned. But the district still is showing itself as closely competitive, and a Democratic win there in an upcoming cycle clearly is not out of reach.]

But in the main, and for the next couple of years . . . for all the discontent that seems to be out there, people in the Northwest mostly voted for more of the same.