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Posts published in “Idaho”

Editorial opinion

Dave Oliveria of the Spokesman Review blog Huckleberries reports receiving an email from Robert James, the newly former editor of the Bonners Ferry Herald, which is owned by Hagadone Newspapers. In it he wrote, "Last Friday, Hagadone corp. fired me, the managing editor of the Bonners Ferry Herald, apparently for endorsing democrat Jerry Brady in a personal opinion column."

Remarked Oliveria, "And you guys wonder why I don't cut HagaWorld much slack." Oliveria does due disclosure in noting that he too once worked for and was fired from that organization. In further disclosure, your scribe also briefly reported for (though not long enough to be dismissed from) that same company.

Mr. President

Would be highly interesting, say a year or so from now, to check back on the aftereffects of this decision goes . . .

Bill SaliIdaho U.S. Representative-elect Bill Sali has been elected to something else: President of his freshman class of Republican representatives. (The last such from Idaho was then-Representative Mike Crapo, in 1992.)

It is not a massive class, to be sure. But we will be intrigued to see how the choice holds up.

Comments more than welcome.

A hat tip to the correspondent who sent us a mail noting the development.

Beyond the Tide: ID 1

Third of four posts on competitive congressional contests in the Northwest.

Those Idahoans - some Democrats and some Republicans - convinced at the end of May that the nomination of Bill Sali would open the door to a Democratic nominee in the 1st congressional district of Idaho, obviously were shown on election day to be . . . not entirely right.

close districts mapNot entirely wrong, either. We've become convinced that an opening did exist, but the Democrats did not wind up taking advantage of it. That was not for lack of an appealing candidate or energetic campaign, both of which they had. Whether a similar opening will reappear in future elections is uncertain, but Idaho Democrats would be wise to focus a good deal of attention in this area.

Before going further, we should restate the outlines here. In its recent voting patterns, Idaho is as blood red a state as any in the country, laying reasonable claim this year to the top of the list. It elected no Democrats at all above the level of state legislator. In the first congressional district, Republican Sali defeated Democrat Larry Grant 50% to 45%; in the race for governor, Republican C.L. "Butch" Otter, a veteran elected official, defeated second-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brady 53% to 44%. Those were not massive wins, but a few local Republican disabilities should be noted. Otter's campaign was relatively weak and accumulated bad headlines from the beginning of the year all the way through to about election day. And Sali was poorly regarded by a number of fellow Republicans, insulted and even threatened by two state House speakers of his own party and was blasted during the campaign by other Republicans, notably the candidate who came in second to Sali in the Republican primary for the House seat. Atop that was the hope generated by what looked like, and what in many places was, a national Democratic tide in the mid-term elections.

The easy response to these races and some others (such as those for state controller and superintendent of public instruction) is: A working majority of Idaho voters look for the "R" by the name and vote accordingly, and no other considerations enter in. And in most recent elections there's been little evidence to the contrary.

This time, some evidence of a more complicated story does exist.

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Exile on Boise Avenue

You know it's a new century when the Rolling Stones play Boise - no, wait, excuse us, Nampa - as they do tonight.

You know it's an even newer century when you get to follow the report on the concert by blog - and newer yet when the blog to watch will be that of: Dennis Mansfield.

The social conservative, Republican candidate and church activist will be there and will be blogging. From a Mansfield e-mail recently received: "Yes it is true. I will be blogging the Rolling Stones Concert in Boise tomorrow night (11/14/06), as it unfolds. Though, not on the stage (something about my yodeling style not meeting certain standards...) I will be in the seats way high up near where the air may not be too clear....hmmmm.

"Why blog it? Because, as my website, www.DennisMansfield.com says: Business and Culture do Matter. Visit the site now for some pre-game warm up notes....and add your own. Visit the site tomorrow as the concert begins in the evening, around 6 pm or so MST. Have fun, make comments, join in the event...if only by blogging."

We're not able to make the concert, but we'll definitely be reading the blog. (Though you might take with a wink and nod the case there that the Stones are "conservative.")

Ballooning Twin

The larger areas of growth near Boise and Coeur d'Alene get most of the attention and remarks, but there are others of note. Today's Twin Falls Times News has a good roundup of growth and development at that city - substantial, too, suggesting continued expansion of a city already growing plenty in the last decade.

A question, though: To what extent is Twin expanding at the expense of other Magic Valley towns (a number of which have lost people and businesses to the regional center) and to what extent does it mark an expansion of the region?

Boise blue: The Fischer take

Yesterday we noted that the city of Boise (not the environs in Ada County) went heavily "blue" on Tuesday, voting strongly for Democratic legislators and similarly elsewhere on the ballot.

10 Commandments monumentAmong other things, Boise city voters rejected (47.3%-52.7%) the initiative aimed at moving the Ten Commandments monument back to one of the city parks from its much more visible current location on church grounds across State Street from the state capitol building. Our sense of this is that voters probably were less concerned where the monument was located than they were in putting to rest such a purely symbolic issue that has taken up a lot of attention, time and effort that might have been devoted to more practical pursuits.

There are, of course, other ways of looking at it. Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance, which championed the initiative - taking it to the state supreme court at one point - and fought the battle before that, has a rather different one, though factoring in the same political shifted we noted here.

Fischer's view: "Today is a sobering day for the pro-faith community of Boise. Not only did the city turn its back on God and his abiding standards, it also sent 12 secularists to the state legislature. Of the four main districts which lie wholly within the city limits (Districts 16-19), not a single seat is now held by a conservative.

"The reins of Boise city government are also in the hands of confirmed liberals. A kind of moral and spiritual darkness has descended on this city, and its effects will be felt for years to come."

Next up

Okay gang: The 2006 campaign cycle is dead. Long live the 2008 cycle - for the next 24 months.

A quick reminder here of what lies ahead.

ALL THREE Presidential contests await. After the results from 2004 and - atop that - this year, Washington, Oregon and Idaho may not be foremost targets; the first two have taken on deeper shades of blue and Idaho remains about as red as ever. But hope may spring quadrennial.

WASHINGTON No Senate race, but the governor and statewides will be up, along with all the U.S. House members, about half the state Senate and all of the state House. The governor's race is likely to be dominant, so expect action on developing a Republican candidate for Governor Chris Gregoire to kick in before long. Gregoire's numbers are still not where they really ought to be for a governor at this stage of term; but they are a lot better than in early 2005, and better than Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski's were a few months back. Will Republican Dino Rossi try again? Our guess is not, though he likely has first right of refusal.

Expect another hard run at the 8th congressional district. As for the legislature - its level of vulnerability may depend greatly on how the enhanced Democratic majority handles its increased power.

OREGON Republican Senator Gordon Smith will be up, and a battle royal that contest may be. In 2002 he won decisively (but short of a landslide) against Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, and polling indicates he remains personally popular. But a working majority of Oregon voters has soured on Republicans, ace fundraising isn't enough (paging Ron Saxton), and several strong Democratic prospects hanging around out there. (Either former Governor John Kitzhaber, now comfortably recovering from politics though still apparently retaining an interest, or Representative Earl Blumenauer, who's been visible statewide and burnished his national support network this campaign season, would give Smith a helluva race.

Beyond that, races for partisan constitutional officers other than governor, the U.S. House delegation (all reconfirmed in their electoral strength by this year's results) and the legislature. Expect the Oregon House, teetering at the brink of partisan control, to return as a high focus of attention.

IDAHO Republican Senator Larry Craig is up, and there's some question about whether he will run again - a cycle in the minority (where, to be sure, he has been before) after those years in the majority, may be ill-appealing; especially if he wants to set about making some money pre-retirement. He already has a fierce primary opponent in Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez. Some Democrats are trying to talk recent congressional candidate Larry Grant into the race.

The House seats will be up as well, with the question being: What will be the state of play as regards Bill Sali's first term? The legislature (all of it in Idaho) will be up, with the question: Can the Democrats retain/expand their new substantial base in the city of Boise?

Boise blue

Most Idaho Democrats had to content themselves with vicarious pleasures on Tuesday; their in-state races were mostly a long string of disappointments, and for the first time in well over half a century the party is left without a single elected representative above the level of state representative.

We'd guess, though, that one finder of a silver lining was David Bieter, a nonpartisan mayor of Boise who wasn't even on the ballot Tuesday - he will be up for re-election in May. The numbers were bound to give Bieter some cheer. Especially the numbers in four legislative districts.

Go back to the top of the decade and you'll find Boise legislators who were Democrats, three of them bunched in one district, District 19 in the north end of town. There, in that little corner, they were unassailable, but mostly lost when they ventured into other districts.

Four years ago, though, there were signs of progress, with a couple of state Senate seat wins in the neighboring district. Two years ago, in 2004, they expanded on that a little, so the map of the district looked like this.

Ada districts in 2004

Clearly, the Democratic strength was expanding outside District 19 into its three neighbors (the purple areas indicate mixed delegations of three per district).

This year, they consolidated, and strikingly took over those districts, really made them their own. These districts now look like this.

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ID results 1 – The sea remains the same

The polling was leaving Idaho Democrats breathless: That sea change they've been waiting for, for the last 14 years at least, seemed at hand, with polling that actually put several Democratic candidates for major office ahead of Republicans.

Now we have the actual votes, enough of them at least to tell that the sea has not changed.

At this writing, only about half of the precincts are in. (Canyon County, notoriously late in last May's primary, is late coming in again. And so Bannock, and some others.) But the vote distribution seems generally broad enough to draw some conclusions, starting with this: The two big races on which Democrats had pinned their highest hopes, for governor and for the 1st district U.S. House seat, appear to be going to the Republicans, C.L. "Butch" Otter and Bill Sali.

And that is true despite a long string of advantages that appeared to play to Democrats' favor: A terrible national atmosphere for Republicans (a very good night for Democrats nationally), big problems in the campaigns of the Republicans, campaigns by the Democrats that were played smartly, issues that played to the Democrats' advantage, and much more. But Republicans in Idaho have massive institutional advantages at this point, and a lot of people in the state simply cannot conceive of wanting to vote for a Democrat. And they didn't.

Nor (based on the most recent results) did they win the race for superintendent of public instruction, or for state controller, and in both cases they seemed to have some unusual advantages. In the latter, strong endorsements from industry groups and even Republicans like Frnak Vander Sloot of Idaho Falls; none of that matters, evidently, nearly as much as party identification.

There are specks of light for the Democrats. On the legislative front, they did make - as we suspected they would - substantial progress in the districts of the city of Boise, taking all three seats in the three most urban of the Boise legislative districts, and two of three seats in another (apparently - results were not yet final on that one). Boise seems en route to becoming a Democratic city, a trend evident in the 2004 elections and clearer now.

As for inroads elsewhere . . . there were a few. Results were incomplete in some cases, though Democrats do appear to have won a smattering of other races.

We'll come back to all this.