Writings and observations

The Idaho Political Field Guide, the counterpart to the Oregon PFG and the successor to the Idaho Political Almanac series, is out!

It’s been 10 years since Ridenbaugh Press published the last book in the series. This new one covers elections of the last decade, and the effects of reapportionment as well.

Several events are upcoming. Check back.

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OR political field guide

Today’s release day for our newest book: The Oregon Political Field Guide.

We have a lot more information about it on a separate page. But a here’s a little more.

First, you can order it through Paypal via this button here.





Second, it’s one of a series. The Idaho counterpart (the Idaho Political Field Guide) will be coming shortly. The Washington book is under construction and will be released a little later.

Third: What is the Field Guide? And why do we call it that?

These books are relatives of the Idaho Political Almanac series Ridenbaugh Press published in the 90s (about, obviously, Idaho). They cover some of the same territory, but not exactly the same. The Political Almanacs contained more background about office holders and sometimes candidates, and their stands on issues, performance in office, and so on. The Field Guides are a little different: They’re about campaigns and elections, with heavy focus on the voters – how the voters voted. This edition of the book (there may be more to come, later on) covers in some detail the last decade of elections. That allows you to see how various districts, counties and other areas elected people over time; how the percentages rose and fell, how the numbers of raw votes changed. It’s intended to be a useful tool for political analysis down to a fine level.

If politics in Oregon is your thing, then the Field Guide needs to be at hand.

A quick word about the Oregon Blue Book, and how this relates to that.

We’re enthusiastic fans of the Blue Book, a terrific and gorgeously general reference about Oregon, now celebrating its centennial. (A collection of 17 of the most recent sits prominently near where this is written.) It includes some information about elections, but not in great detail. And as a state publication, it probably shouldn’t include a lot more than it currently does. The Field Guide is designed to fill the gap: To present elections and other information in a way that’s non-partisan but also explanatory and analytical in a way that might be problematic for a state-backed book.

You can find out more at the book’s main web page; a clutch of sample pages also is available. And stop by (and “like,” if you would) the Oregon Political Field Guide page at Facebook.

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In a 30-30 state House like Oregon’s, with an election coming up, every seat matters. A lot. So who’s sitting on the hot seats?

You can look at this from various directions, not all of them strictly statistical. Such matters as quality of candidates, gaffes and other negatives and the strength of a challenge matter. And, of year, money too. But party identification, in these very partisan times, matters a whole lot, and one useful place to start may be a look at what legislators are representing the most politically divided districts – or districts in which the other party has a registration advantage. (The registration numbers are those for February, posted by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.)

OR political field guide
Based on material from the upcoming Oregon Political Field Guide

In that last category, of legislators who have partisan minorities in their districts, there are six, all Republicans.

By this standard, the single most endangered Republican should be Katie Eyre Brewer of Hillsboro, in District 29. The district has a Democratic edge of 6.62%, and Brewer won with 53% in a relatively low-turnout year. She pulled a record Republican vote in this district, but Democrats exceeded her raw totals both in 2008 and 2004; and this year, like those, is a presidential. She’s at high risk.

The second most endangered Republican on this list would be Patrick Sheehan, of Clackamas, in House District 51. This district (well, its analogue before redistricting) was Republican a decade ago, and decisively into 2006, but clearly Democratic in the last two cycles – presently by a margin of 6.47%. Sheehan won his first term in 2010 with a respectable 54.57%, but his vote total was lower than the last Republican there, Linda Flores, had two years before that when she lost the seat. If turnout is up this year, Sheehan could be at big risk.

Brewer and Sheehan both represent districts with higher Democratic edge than the district held by the top-ranking House Democrat, Arnie Roblan of Coos Bay.

The other four Republicans in tough terrain are Shawn Lindsay of Hillsboro (District 30), Mark Johnson of Hood River (District 52), Jason Conger of Bend (District 54) and Julie Parrish of West Linn (District 37). All but Parrish unseated Democrats in the Republican tide year of 2010.

And it should be noted that the comparisons aren’t totally apples and apples, since the districts have been redistricted. But in most cases that doesn’t seem likely to make a big difference.

If that sounds like the makings of a Democratic target list, who should be the Democrats on the Republican short list?

There are no Democrats representing Oregon House districts with Republican registration leads. The closest would be District 9 – the Coos Bay district Roblan, the current House co-speaker, is leaving to run for the Senate. That district could have the makings of a serious contest.

After that, the going gets tougher. The Democrat in the next most marginal district is Deborah Boone (of Cannon Beach) in District 32 (Democratic edge: 8.8%), based in Clatsop County. She had a close race in 2010 (winning with 52.31%), but won easily earlier; and her new district should be more helpful to her than the old one was.

The next three districts in relatively small Democratic advantage are districts 40 (an open seat, with Dave Hunt‘s departure for a county race), 50 (Greg Matthews of Gresham) and 22 (Betty Komp of Woodburn). None look like easy catches.

In a race where such large results can turn on small conditions, the future of the Oregon House is far from settled. Based on party registration, Democrats have an early advantage.

What about other measure?

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Dennis Griffin, our newest author – of From Scratch: Inside the Lightning Launch of the College of Western Idaho – delivered a presentation to the Idaho State Board of Education on December 8, during the “open forum” portion of the meeting. He was there to discuss the publication of his new book, which he had talked about writing even while the development of the college was underway.

Here are some of his notes from the meeting:

I introduced myself as the founding president and served between Aug. 2007 – Aug. 2009 (several people are still on the board who where there then). I explained that when we went through it all, I kept saying “I really should write a book when this is over, nobody would believe us about all the balls we have in the air.”

When I retired, several reminded me of saying that. So for the past two years, I have been working on the project, and now it’s complete.

I did it for three reasons:
-Historical record
-As a tribute to my team and to the board — to leave a legacy
-As a tribute the dozens of people and organization both inside the college and especially in the community who made this happen

I mentioned to the board that Governor Otter had written the forword, and several others had written “blurbs” for the book.

I told them there are lots of personal stories and behind-the-scenes experiences in the book. And it also includes such thngs as:

– A short history of the community college movement for the past 30 years

– A description of the campaign leading up to the successful referendum

– A short history of BSU’s junior/community college history and the transfer of that function to CWI

– A short history of the Selland College

– Stories of many of the legal transactions including the land transfer from the state and BSU

– I mentioned where the book could be purchased

There were lots of smiles from the board members and nods of approval. The board President thanked me for doing the book. The audience applauded.

I felt very good about the reception I got.

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Andrus book

The title, Andrus: Idaho’s Greatest Governor, would give you to think that this is a biography, albeit a hagiographic one. It is better taken as the writer, Chris Carlson (whose columns show up here about weekly), indicated in his substitle, as a reminiscence – a work of memory, through his eyes, in considerable part unchecked in any rigorous way. And, within that frame, it might be taken as this: The story of the mentor relationship between Carlson and Cecil Andrus. That’s the thread that runs through the book.

The first part of the book, about Andrus’ early life and early political years, is relatively biographical, and those interested in Andrus’ background will find plenty of new material here. Carlson has a number of stories to tell from his years working for Andrus, mainly in a press and public relations capacity. He also tells some of his own story, his short time on the Northwest Power Planning Council (as it was called then), the founding of the Gallatin Group, and more. There’s a long chapter as well concerning concerning the campaign surrounding the Washington death with dignity/assisted suicide ballot issue (Initiative 1000, which passed in 2008); Carlson was one of the leading organizers against it. Andrus did not take a role in that campaign (so far as Carlson relates), but the lessons he imparted over the years were taken into that campaign.

That suggests some of the results of the mentoring relationship that is Carlson’s main subject here. Andrus, elected governor four times and Interior secretary for a full presidential term (the only one to last all of Jimmy Carter’s administration), is one of the strongest personalities Idaho has had in the last half-century. If he enters the room, you know it – and you enjoy it (ordinarily). He’s among the rare people seemingly at home anywhere, with just about anyone. And he learned, along the way, a lot about how the world works – another major theme of Carlson’s.

On one occasion, some years back, I had occasion to ask Andrus for advice on a matter relating to a political campaign. The exact bedeviling problem at hand is now forgotten (by me anyway), but Andrus’ advice was not, and especially the effect it had: It lasted no more than two or three sentences, and he hadn’t finished speaking before I knew he was exactly correct. And he was. It was the gift of cutting through clutter.

Carlson also subtitles his book, “Idaho’s Greatest Governor,” and the back cover text says he “inarguably, has had the greatest impact on Idaho in modern times.” That raises a subject we’ll be addressing here a few months from now in another book, looking at the influential people in Idaho history. However exactly you rank him, Andrus has been powerfully impactful on the state. And, as this book maintains, on a lot of individual people as well.

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intermediary

What happens when cultures clash, and one person tries to get them to live together?

That’s the most basic subject of the new book from Ridenbaugh Press, The Intermediary: William Craig among the Nez Perces. The book is available online (see below) and from several regional outlets.

At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. A native Virginian on the run, Craig became a mountain man, married into the tribe, immersed himself in two cultures on a collision course. Craig’s story takes us from his flight from Virginia to his days as a mountain man – exploring and trapping for the Hudson’s Bay Company and celebrating at the fabled rendezvous. He married into the Nez Perce tribe and settled on the banks of the Clearwater River, but his travels didn’t stop. William Craig worked with government appointees, the military and the missionaries as well as major leaders of the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Cayuse, and other Inland Northwest tribes trying to find a way for them all to peacefully co-exist.

Craig understood that for the tribes to resist the westward movement of the whites was futile; he’d seen the harsh results of armed resistance that eastern tribes experienced and he tried to bring reason and common sense to both sides where fear, anger, and often greed prevailed. His efforts were not always welcomed and his journeys between the Clearwater country to The Dalles and the Willamette Valley we often taken at great risk. He continued in his efforts because to stop was to allow an even greater tragedy.

Told here for the first time, Craig’s story mixes bravery, cowardice, courage, deceit, intrigue – and timeless lessons about the challenges awaiting those who would be peacemakers.

Lin Tull Cannell was born in Coeur d’Alene, raised in the Northwest, and earned a degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco. She worked in the legal and library fields and as a senior analyst with Yolo County in California. She and her husband, Merk, and children, Scott, Sandi, and Casey, often explored America’s west. She has written on William Craig for the University of Washington’s Pacific Northwest Quarterly. Lin lives in Orofino, Idaho.

Cannell said that she is “a native wanting to learn how my little area of north central Idaho got to be how it is. This work is simply an honest effort to capture and share our history.”

She wrote that “I was born and bred in the interior Northwest, but it was not until I had spent almost 30 years working elsewhere and retired back to north central Idaho that I questioned that which I had always accepted. Returning to my childhood home with the “new eyes” of experience, I especially noticed—and puzzled over—the predominance of non-Indian residents (even towns occupied mostly by white people) on the Nez Perce reservation. Curiosity up, I read old treaties between the United States and the Nez Perce Indian tribe: those, and Francis Paul Prucha’s The Great Father, answered many of my questions about how non-Indians could now be living on Indian reservations.

“As I meandered through the hills and canyons around Orofino, I noticed the name “Craig” here and there on the Clearwater River watershed: the village of Craigmont on the Camas Prairie, Craig’s Ferry on a sign along the Clearwater River, and, in the Lapwai Valley, a Highway 195 marker declaring that William Craig, a former fur trapper and a “bluff, jolly good fellow,” had once lived there. But local libraries yielded little information about Craig. There was no Craig biography other than a magazine article by a local historian, and the usually verbose literature of the fur trade offered but scant paragraphs about him.”

His dramatic story turned out to be central to how the Inland Empire region of the Northwest developed.

Fifteen years in the making, the book was published by Ridenbaugh Press, of Carlton, Oregon, a publisher of books on Northwest public affairs and history.

* Paperback: 244 pages
* Publisher: Ridenbaugh Press
* ISBN-10: 0982466838
• ISBN-13: 978-0982466834

Available through:

Buy here:




and

Ridenbaugh Press estore
amazon.com
area retailers

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Paradox Politics
ORDER IT HERE and now on Amazon.com

After 21 years, a second edition of Paradox Politics, the history of Idaho politics . . . up to when it was published, in 1988. This is a new edition of the book, with some glitches cleared and corrections noted, but including the text of the original. It isn’t intended to cover the two decades since, but it does bring some of the stories and political circumstances up to date with more than 100 notes throughout the book. A lot of what happened then, looks a little different now. (Certainly Idaho has changed a lot.) If you’re interested in Idaho politics and never read the original, this is now the edition to get. If you’ve read the original . . . this one will put a lot of it in more perspective than was available those many years ago.

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