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Posts published in “Day: December 2, 2014”

Election alternatives

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

I love playing golf, but I hate hitting irons.
One day, I heard somebody talk about the key to better iron play. “Get rid of the darn things,” he said. I did, and my golf game improved dramatically with my odd assortment of fairway woods.

The same principal can apply to elections in Idaho. Get rid of the darn things – at least as they are now. General elections at the top of the ticket have all the suspense of old communist Russian ballots, where only one name counts – the one with the “R” label. Democrats have become irrelevant. But as bad as general elections are, primary elections are worse. The voting turnout in late May is disgustingly low – especially with the closed primaries. But the open primaries also were a disaster in terms of low turnout.

Secretary of State-elect Lawerence Denney has said he favors eliminating primary elections and letting the parties figure out how to nominate their candidates. Actually, he’s on the right track because it’s ridiculous for the state to be spending money on primary elections that draw less than 20 percent of eligible voters. Since some 80 percent of the people have made it clear they don’t want to exercise their right to vote, then maybe they should lose that right. If nothing else, the howls of protest would offer some entertainment value.

A better idea is to find something else that does work. Oregon voters rejected an interesting idea that is used in Washington and some other states: End closed primaries and open the elections to all comers. The top two vote-getters for a given office would square off in the general election.

That means, two Republicans could be running against one another in a general election – which often would be the case in Idaho. If the top-two format were used in Idaho in the governor’s race, Gov. Butch Otter might have been going against Republican State Sen. Russ Fulcher instead of Democrat A.J. Balukoff. Voters in rural Idaho – which holds all the power in elections – then would have a real choice.

Idaho is not a two-party system in a traditional sense, but there are two distinctly divided factions in the Republican Party. There is, in lack of a better name, the “Tea Party Crowd” (TPC), led by Congressman Raul Labrador and at least half of the state’s House leadership. That group has a name for the other side: RINO – “Republicans in Name Only,” with Otter and Congressman Mike Simpson being among the charter members. The TPC prides itself on being “traditional Republicans,” who oppose anything to do with President Obama, Medicaid expansion and government-sanctioned education standards. The RINO group doesn’t like Obama, but are friendlier to selective “moderate” causes. (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)

High Pacific temps may be hurting salmon (Boise Statesman)
Nampa reviewing its streetscape options (Nampa Press Tribune)
Caldwell looking at urban renreal possibilities (Nampa Press Tribune)
Old Town Pocatello draws, opens 7 businesses (Pocatello Journal)
Kraft plant blaze cause still unknown (Pocatello Journal)

1,500 graduate instructors strike at UO (Eugene Register Guard)
Kitzhaber budget would increase school funds (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News, Pendleton E Oregonian)
3-month water outlook close to normal (KF Herald & News)
Wine in southern Oregon had a good 2013 (Medford Tribune)
Former BMCC executive charges race bias (Pendleton E Oregonian)
New Portland protesters mirroring Occupy (Portland Oregonian)

Bremerton Port leader apologies over meetings (Bremerton Sun)
Boeing providing changed health plans (Everett Herald)
Sauk-Suiattle Tribe may move over flooding (Everett Herald)
Pot shops banned in Woodland (Longview News)
Schoesler elected as Senate majority leader (Olympian)
LaPush considered highly popular coastal area (Port Angeles News)
Possible Gonzaga partnership with UW medical (Spokane Spokesman)
Benton loses majority deputy leader post (Vancouver Columbian)
Vancouver offered breaks to large employers (Vancouver Columbian)
State fruit industry looks ahead (Yakima Herald Republic)
Environment group wants into dairy-EPA suit (Yakima Herald Republic)