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Posts published in “Idaho”

Ron Paul country

Ron Paul

Ron Paul

The Ron Paul campaign continues to surprise and do well in the Northwest. We've spotted no lack of Paul signage all over the region in recent weeks; could it be his fiscal conservatism combined with his anti-war stance? Both of those things would sell reasonably in the Northwest, to some extent, anyway. Whatever it is, Paul is going very well in this corner of the country.

There's a striking map on the Paul campaign well site (hat tip to Oregon Catalyst for the pointer) showing the number of fourth-quarter donors per capita, by state. Excepting New Hampshire, where he also does well, Paul's support seems heavily weighed to the western states (excepting California). Of those western states, Montana and Nevada are in the top tier, and Idaho and Washington are just behind, with Oregon also doing well for Paul in the next rank.

Oregon Catalyst has a fine - and intense - discussion about this.

A three-way

The entry this week of Boise businessman Walt Minnick into what's now a three-way Democratic primary for the 1st U.S. House seat raises some issues - most immediately: Who winds up taking the primary?

And there we have no obvious answer - less obvious than some advocates probably think. Leaving aside the matter of the general election (any Democratic nominee will, as matters stand, be looking at a steep uphill against incumbent Republican Bill Sali), the primary is shaping as a seriously contested three-way contest that realistically could go in any direction.

Early presumption, months ago, was that 2006 Democratic nominee Larry Grant would have the nomination for the asking. And Grant is asking: He has announced his 2008 campaign. The arguments for a clear enough. Grant came across fairly well as a candidate last time (go back and read the at-the-time descriptions if you doubt that; a lot of revisionism has been underway this year). His campaign had faults, as all do, but it ran energetically, and Grant displayed substantial campaign skills. For '08, he can draw on experience and much of his existing organization, and build on his mostly positive name ID.

The counter is that he's never won a race, either, and the vocal criticisms of last year's candidacy which have emerged this year from within his own party have sapped some Democratic confidence (and helped lead to the other candidacies). He's not a new face this time. And his campaign hasn't been super-visible since his announcement in July. (The most current press release on his web site is dated September 27.) Some Democrats will back him out of loyalty; others may question whether he pulled his weight last time.

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Another one gone

Washington Group International

Washington Group International

The roster of big home-grown Boise businesses slims down again, as stockholders at Washington Group International - formerly and long known to Boiseans as Morrison-Knudsen Corporation - on Thursday agreed to sell the company to URS Corporation of San Francisco.

M-K was a pride of Boise for many years, whose origins run back to the construction in 1905 of an irrigation canal in the Boise area. It long has been a major international building contractor and a big player in the city and state and the politics of both.

It ought to register with Idahoans as a major event - and it is - but it may not. At this point, a lot of Boise's history has begun to recede. We talked this morning with one long-time Boisean who said he nearly ran off the road when he heard on his car radio an announcer talk about "Morrison-Nutson" corporation . . .

Bulletin board

One of the things political blogs can do is to serve as a kind of community bulletin board. Mostly, blogs that do this - in Oregon, Blue Oregon and Oregon Catalyst both sort of do - are partisan, home for posts from one side of the fence. But there are other ways you can approach this, including throwing open the doors entirely.

Newspaper website logically can do this. The Pocatello Idaho State Journal has loosely done this with its politics blog, which includes material from the paper itself (including some of its editorials) but also opinion posts from far and wide. (Material from super-veteran Idahoan Perry Swisher often are found there.)

In a little more formalized format, the Boise Idaho Statesman is setting out to do that too, with announcement today (via Kevin Riechert's blog) of Talking Points, which will provide bulletin-board space for guest ops. The first batch up are posts from the state's congressional delegation, but we'll be interested to see how it's used in weeks to come.

It’s a good idea anyway

We've long liked the idea - tried in a number of times and a number of places - of "Capitol for a Day," where top state leaders, usually including the governor, descend on some distant community. It lets the local people meet their state leaders and say their piece to them. And it exposes state people to constituents who don't wear suits and aren't being paid to get something. It's nice symbolism on top of that.

Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter's revival of the idea stands as sound, a point that ought to be re-emphasized in the wake of this in the Spokane Spokesman-Review: "Shoshone County wasn’t too captivated by Gov. Butch Otter’s visit Tuesday, with only a mother and her home-schooled son showing up for the 'Capitol for a Day' session. But that didn’t mean Kingston resident Dawn Hauff and her 10-year-old son Dan were alone with the governor in the Wallace Senior Drop-in Center. About 40 people crammed into the room, but they didn’t exactly count as 'average citizens.' All were elected or held some type of government job."

Note to the governor: The fact that you didn't have an automatic flash mob at Wallace doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. The fact that the results weren't entirely under control may mean you were doing something right.

Who can write what

Ahot debate has emerged around and about the Spokane Spokesman-Review in the last few days not so much about the paper's recent layoffs - cutbacks which, especially in the Idaho part of the operation, we consider tragic - as a news report about them. The debate has to do not with the accuracy or general approach in the piece, but rather with who wrote it.

"Leaning Tower," about the cutbacks, appeared in the Spokane alternative Inlander, and was written by Kevin Taylor. The tag line at the end notes that the writer is "a former Spokesman-Review employee," and he was. He worked in the paper's Idaho bureau, and was fired from his reporting job there, before linking up with the Inlander.

You can read the article from the link; our quick take on it is that it seems generally neutral and fair.

Which made for an unusual post from Steve Smith, the Spokesman's editor. Smith's blogging (he does a good deal of it, and commenting too) ordinarily runs toward the thoughtful and well reasoned. But he sounded scattered in his post about the Inlander article:

"I have no specific complaints about the report except for its superficiality. What is happening to this newspaper and the industry overall is complicated and important and worthy of in-depth outside review. Of course, that isn't The Inlander's goal when they report on the SR. My biggest complaint involves Taylor's assignment to this or any story about the SR. The note at the bottom of his story describes him as a former SR reporter. Well, that is like calling Jayson Blair a former New York Times reporter. It's true, but highly inaccurate."

Running through . . . Most news reports, notably most in most newspapers (daily and weekly both), necessarily, are superficial: They are produced fast, and only limited space is alloted for them. Would a book length have met Smith's standards? (Not that the subject of what's happening to newspapers wouldn't be worth that treatment.) He gets into mind-reading when he prescribes a "goal" for the Inlander, which seems unfair since the only available evidence, the article itself, read like a straight news report. And in fact, "calling Jayson Blair a former New York Times reporter" would be accurate - a description insufficient for fair understanding of the situation, but accurate nonetheless.

Our interest here, though, is in his suggestion (generally in the post) that certain reporters shouldn't write about certain things - that Taylor shouldn't have been allowed (or assigned - we evidently don't know which) to write about the Spokesman because of the blowup involving him and it.

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Minnick apparently in

Looks like the Idaho 1st district Democratic contest will in fact be a three-way: Walt Minnick, the Boise businessman who ran for the Senate in 1996, evidently is about to announce his entry.

An emailer advises us of an alert about a campaign announcement next Wednesday at Coeur d'Alene (we assume this would be one of several) for the Minnick campaign kickoff, "to attend and hear why Walt Minnick wants to be your next congressman!"

We note also that a number of web domains with word variations on "Walt," "Minnick" and "Congress" have been swept up by a Boise administrator; appears that the web name will be "waltforcongress.com."

Larry Grant
, who ran for the seat last year and lost to Republican Bill Sali, also is in, seeking a rematch. (Notable: According to the mail we received, Minnick's announcement will be attended by - and presumably supported by - former Governor Cecil Andrus, who was a key Grant supporter last year.) And Rand Lewis of Moscow also has been in for several months.

No immediate thoughts on how this will play out . . .

Redefining Boise

That elections can serve to define places in people's minds has become increasingly clear. Consider this bit of analysis from Bryan Fischer of the social conservative Idaho Values Alliance, following the Tuesday elections at Boise:

". . . now the city is firmly in the grip of those who oppose the public acknowledgement of God and support the right of sexually confused men to wear dresses to work and use the ladies’ room if they want to. And the die seems to be cast. Outsiders moving to Idaho because of its family values may want to look to places other than the City of Trees. Boise certainly is no longer the friendliest place in Idaho to raise a family."

ID: Eagle Village Green Preservation Society

Preserve Eagle

Michael Huffaker, Saundra McDavid, Al Shoushtarian

The Idaho elections of note Tuesday were in Eagle, where the key local issue - or what should be - of rapid growth was squarely on the table. And the voters there did something remarkable, shifting direction and even attitude sharply; whether sharply enough to invoke major change in the short haul, we'll know soon.

Growth really is the only serious issue in Eagle, a city just northwest of Boise. As recently as 1990, its population was 3,327; now, it is somewhere north of 25,000. And about to grow dramatically again, since the city is involved in annexing some mass chunks of the foothills to the north, and if it succeeds eventually could add maybe another 10,000 people to its population base. (Some of those people from the foothills apparently showed up at Eagle City Hall intending to vote, not realizing they weren't city residents. Yet, at least.)

The city's policy generally, as you might expect, has been open doors to development, in dizzying amount. This year, Mayor Nancy Merrill is opting out, and after a good many years of a mostly-stable crowd in place, newcomers are scrambling for the mayoralty and council seats. The key point distinguishing them is their positioning on growth.

First takeaway from Tuesday's election is that the candidates favoring least growth came out ahead. But the point will be revisited when the city holds a runoff on December 4 between its top two mayoral contenders.

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