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Posts published in “Idaho”

Endorsement roundup

Just a quick note on the Idaho 1st district race: The endorsements are now in, and may be considered.

We're aware of three newspaper endorsements in District 1. On the Republican side, State Controller Keith Johnson got those in southern Idaho, at the Boise Idaho Statesman and the Nampa Idaho Press-Tribune. Sheila Sorensen got one up north, at the Spokane Spokesman-Review. On the Democratic side, Larry Grant (who is only barely challenged in the primary) got all three.

MSM blogging

To read opinion pieces about blogging in newspapers (and see them on the tube), and to read about the MSM (mainstream media, to you dead-tree folks) in many blogs, you'd think a kind of trench warfare between two opposing sides is underway. It isn't true; the lines have long since been breached.

Blogs have from the beginning relied heavily on other media for news and other items (and we reference them regularly). For their part, newspapers have increasingly been using blog-developed information too. And the key bridge between the sides may actually be the growing number of blogs by newspaper writers, under the aegis of those newspapers.

Our immediate hook for this discussion is the launching (okay, it was last month, but we just spotted it) of a blog in the Olympian newspaper by reporter Adam Wilson. But let's take a look at the newspaper politics/public affairs blog scene around the Northwest; there's more here than you might think. (more…)

Up in the mountains

Given the location of ski resort complexes, you might expect the sort of thing now bedeviling the Schweitzer Mountain ski area near Sandpoint to be a periodic occurence. And maybe over years to come, it will be.

Areas in the mountain turf near Schweitzer have developed some serious geologic problems, cracks in the mountain and landslides - generated at the moment by sudden spring heat - that have virtually wiped out two condo complexes and apparently have rendered a third a hopeless cause.

The damage apparently did not occur on the ski resort's property, but its managers may have some cause for concern anyway - even if only as a matter of perception. The ski complex, located at a beautiful sites in the mountains above Sandpoint (which is one of Idaho's prettiest city locales), has been a major draw for the region for some time now. Quite a bit hangs in the balance as specialists re-evaluate the mountain.

Others with comparable interests may want to take note of what happens there next.

A dance of the long knives

It wasn't boring. If you're in the mood for some offbeat TV drama, and you haven't seen it already, consider this a recommendation to check out the Idaho 1st congressional district Republican debate on streaming video from Idaho Public Television.

For sheer slash and burn, you won't find much better reality TV. Republican politics does not get blunter - in public - than it did here.

It may have been the single most attack-packed major debates in the Northwest in years; not until its last quarter or so did the action let up. There was little subtle here, and few punches withheld, even from unlikely sources. A prospective voter planning to vote Republican but knowing nothing about the race save the content of the debate must be left with a deeply uneasy feeling. Did the debate produce a winner, or a single loser? It's hard to imagine. No one stayed entirely above it all; everyone got burned, to some extent or another. (more…)

Tom Luna: The Missing Years

Four years have passed since Tom Luna became the only statewide Republican candidate in Idaho to lose in November. His chances for the same office, superintendent of public instruction, look good this time: He has the odds to win the Republican nomination (he was unopposed for it last time), and probably throws the Democratic nominee into presumptive underdog status. All this owes something to early planning, good organization and solid campaign skills, which were not bad in 2002. It seems to owe little to the four years in between, during most of which Luna was a high-ranking official in the U.S. Department of Education.

Tom LunaThat piece of his track record isn't ignored, exactly. It's appropriately referenced on his resume, and mentioned in passing. But it's hardly the focus and highlight you might expect. In running for the top education job in Idaho, his years on the Nampa School Board really aren't an especially great recommendation, or his work on some state advisory committees.

Luna was a Bush Administration official from early in 2003 into 2005, and one online resume lists him as senior advisor to Secretary of Education Rod Paige, director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities (2003-04) but primarily, apparently, he was executive director of the U.S. Rural Education Task Force. One might expect Luna to speak at length about these experiences; instead, they tend to get perfunctory mentions. Why?

Could it be because there's not much to tell? Or because the telling might make for some uncomfortable juxtapositions? (more…)

A blog endorses

No, not this one - we haven't and won't, in any political race. (At least that's our past and current policy; like all things blog, it could change in future.) But what does it mean to say that a blog has endorsed a candidate?

The question is a little trickier than it might appear at first.

Some blogs, like this one, are relatively controlled-access and have some control of viewpoint. You can comment about our posts, and we encourage that, but anyone who says this space has endorsed someone or something because a commenter has, is simply wrong. On the other hand are blogs like Blue Oregon or Red State Northwest which are joint efforts by a number of bloggers; if one of those bloggers urges the election of a specific candidate - as occasionally happens - you still can't easily say that the blog has done that.

And there's a secondary question: What does it mean to endorse? Is writing favorably about the idea of someone's election enough? Newspaper endorsements are typically clear-cut; they say that "we endorse X for election," or something clearly similar. On the web, the situation is a little less certain.

All that preface to a response by the campaign of Keith Johnson, a candidate for the U.S. House in Idaho's 1st district, to a question posed here about one of its messages. The message said that "2 out of 3 left wing, Idaho bloggers endorsed Robert Vasquez in the Republican primary for Congress. Because he would ensure the Democrats a win in November. The third endorsed Sheila Sorensen. Enough said.”

So, we asked, who were the bloggers? The campaign responded today, and here are the links: (more…)

And they are who, exactly?

Last week we e-mailed the Keith Johnson congressional campaign with a question. We haven't gotten a response to it yet. If we get one, we'll post it, but for the moment - what the with the Idaho primary election scant days away - we thought we should note the inquiry here.

Johnson's web site includes several clever "enough said" videos. One of them says this: "2 out of 3 left wing, Idaho bloggers endorsed Robert Vasquez in the Republican primary for Congress. Because he would ensure the Democrats a win in November. The third endorsed Sheila Sorensen. Enough said."

Well, not quite: Who exactly were the three "left wing, Idaho bloggers"? Or was the campaign just trying to make a satirical point, while stating it in the form of a flat, factual allegation?

Is it possible that Johnson's statement is true? Maybe . . . but we monitor the Northwest blogosphere fairly closely, and can't come up with a single "left wing" blogger endorsing either Vasquez or Sorensen. (Several of them have effectively endorsed Larry Grant, the leading Democrat in the race.) So who exactly are these bloggers? - we'd be interested to know. Or are we to be left with the speculation they don't exist outside the Johnson campaign?

UPDATE (5/18/06) The Johnson campaign has responded with three blog links. See the more recent post "A blog endorses" (above) for discussion.

Site of note

Many are the candidates who complain that they just don't have enough money. Few are the candidates who take advantage of one of the best low-cost ways of communicating: The web.

One of the most notable Northwest campaign web sites - notable now especially since it may or may not survive next week's primary election - is that of Dennis Mansfield, candidate for the Idaho Senate in West Ada County's District 15. Here's a site showing some of the possibilities of using the web to commicate effectively as a candidate.

There are the usual issue statements, photos, donations opportunities and links, of course, that you find on most campaign sites. Mansfield has a blog, for one thing - no, correct that, several blogs, to cover several areas of the campaign, and there's plenty on them. There's an RSS news feed (this is, to be sure, becoming more commonplace, but still far from universal). He has an electronic image, a banner, that supporters can place on their web sites. He has started communicating directly through a multimedia tool called skype - something approaching a conference, scheduled periodically. There are videos. And more - the site keeps on adding new material, even new media. You're pulled in: you start coming back to see what they're adding next.

None of this had to, or probably did, cost much at all, but it adds up to a lot of ways to reach people, and beyond that to interact as well. A site worthy of your attention as the primary days wind down.


It must be the Season of the Chicken. In Oregon, one of the TV spots in high rotation is one from the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix aimed at his main primary competitor, Ron Saxton, accusing him of flipping on position after position and using a chicken in the background footage (with chicken vocals as well) to drive home the point. (Right about now, you can't miss it on Portland TV.)

Dan Adamson and Jerry Brady at the coop

In Idaho, most of the gubernatorial candidates haven't that kind of TV money, but two of them did have the wit to employ the fowl as a visual.

The springboard was the withdrawal a few days ago of Republican gubernatorial candidate C.L. "Butch" Otter from a primary debate (originally set for Thursday, and now cancelled) with his main primary opponent, Dan Adamson. Otter is the presumed easy winner of the race, but his pullout set him up for what he got on Tuesday.

Which was a highly unusual joint press conference featuring Republican Adamson and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brady, both urging that if Otter failed to show up, Brady be allowed to speak in Otter's place. Not a bad thought: There should be some kind of significant penalty for doing what Otter did.

That won't happen, of course, even if it probably should. But Adamson and Brady did manage to drive home the point with a visual, by holding their press conference in front of a chicken coop. (Originally misspelled in a press released as "chicken coup," which probably wasn't what they had in mind.)

Chickens are going to get a bad reputation this way . . .

Why the backout

Does anyone really believe an incumbent politician who complains that they'd love to participate in that debate but gosh darn it, their schedule just isn't going to allow it?

Barring a demonstrable emergency - which is a little difficult to demonstrate weeks or months out - such an excuse doesn't even reach the "my dog ate my homework" threshold. It didn't work when Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski (or rather his staff) said he was just too busy to debate his Democratic primary opponents - a situation that changed, with the governor added to two primary debates, after a raft of bad publicity ensued.

Will it change in the case of C.L. "Butch" Otter, the U.S. representative now running for governor of Idaho, who has pulled out of Thursday's primary debate? Probably only if enough people get vocal enough about it. But if the outcomes of the primary and general elections seem a lock - as to many people they seem to be - will that be enough in Otter's case? (In Kulongoski's case, the outcomes seem not nearly so locked.)

It is true that Otter's primary opponent, Dan Adamson, has only the most distant of odds of winning; Otter will probably crush him in the primary. Adamson's campaign has been imaginative and shown some energy, but Otter is the heavyweight favorite. Otter could have said, with some honesty, that the Adamson campaign simply wasn't rising to the point of serious contention, and he's not going to debate every sliver candidate in the field. If that was the concern.

Or maybe the concern is that while Otter is on track for an easy primary win, a primary debate might raise some embarassing issue or idea or fact that could haunt him later. Or maybe he simply didn't want to bother prepping for a debate in a race he knows he'll win easily anyway.

What's reasonably certain is that calendar conflicts did not underlie the pullout, since he was offered three different dates for the event, and none were suitable. If appearing at the debate was a priority for Otter, he could and would make it happen.

We've said before and we'll say again: No official duty should take precedence over reporting to the boss - that would be us - and explaining one's work on the job face to face with the boss's alternative for handling the job in the next cycle. If sitting presidents can find the time to do it - as every one of them has over the last 30 years - surely a member of Congress could manage to show his employers the same courtesy.

Culture by Barbie

For a satiric look at the cultural variations around the Northwest, you could do worse than Barbie.

Someone around the web, somewhere, got hold of the idea that Barbie dolls, which long have had different versions based on profession or interest, could as well be described differently according to geography. Amd so they have. Available on the web now are well-developed lists of Oregon and Washington Barbies (Portland's KPAM radio has one of the best for Oregon, and STAR 105 radio has a good list for Washington. Be advised that some locale descriptions appear to have been plagarized from some others - although even those choices are indicative.

The Washington list is west-of-Cascades only. Bloggers at the Spokesman-Review web site, notably Dave Oliveria at Huckleberries, are at work remedying that situation, having already developed proposals across the Idaho line for Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint, Moscow and even Athol Barbies.

Oregonians will easily get the point of the Eugene Barbie: "This Barbie is made out of recycled plastic and tofu. She has long straight brown hair, archless feet, hairy armpits, no make-up, and Birkenstocks with white socks. She does not want, or need, a Ken doll. If you purchase the optional Subaru wagon, you will receive a free rainbow flag sticker. Available at REI."

Or the Salem Barbie: " Comes with a bland wardrobe and sensible shoes. The navigation system on her white Jeep Cherokee is preset with her favorite destinations: Target, Big Lots, Tin Tin Buffet, Lancaster Drive, and the Four Square Evangelical Church of Jesus the Redeemer. Customize her ride with included bumper stickers: 'Support the Troops,' 'Stop Abortion Now,' and 'My Child is a Honor Student at Christ the King Bible School'.”

Looking for a quick cultural shorthand? You could do worse.

The infamous poll: Another take

Not long after we ran the Tuesday post on the Sorensen poll, we started hearing about it.

The poll is a campaign poll, from the campaign of Sheila Sorensen, one of the half-dozen candidate for the U.S. House in the

We heard personally from one of the other candidates, who disagreed with the analysis (which was only partial and limited in that post). The Nampa Idaho Press Tribune ran a story today about the other candidates reacting to the Sorensen poll. (No free link to that available.) We also got this from a reader:

I can’t help but wonder if you have suddenly become her press secretary. Who conducted the poll? From people that I have talked with, it is evident that this is push polling.Do you have the questions that were asked? What is the name of the reputable company that has done this polling? Then, why doesn’t she have this info on her web site?

Taking these points in reverse order . . . (more…)