Archive for the 'Oregon' Category

Sep 14 2014

Ds and Rs on one side . . .

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

The problem – or is it an asset? – that the advocates of a top-two primary in Oregon have may be in part that the advocates are hard to easily define.

The opposition is clear enough, and it starts with both major political parties. It’s easy to understand why: The current closed primary system in Oregon gives both parties a great deal of internal control over the system and effectively shuts out people who don’t declare a membership within either. Primary election ballots for non-D and non-R voters is awfully thin.

Of course, this also has had a gradual effect of pushing each party away from each other, and of hearing less (and having to respond less) toward the large number of people in the middle, or simply on the sidelines. Add the number of people who either register as a member of no party or with the Independent Party of Oregon, and you have a third major party (in number, albeit unorganized) whose impact on state politics could be vast.

The Oregonian reported on September 12 that the backers of a top-two system received a lot of money from business-supportive people and groups, which suggests one set of possible outcomes (a broader-appealing set of Republican candidates) that some backers might like. Some of them may be looking across the state line to Washington’s 4th congressional district.

That state has a top-two system (as does California) and in the 4th, the two candidates who advance to the general election are Clint Didier, a Tea Party hard liner, and Dan Newhouse, a more centrist conservative (who was endorsed by the district’s current Republican representative, Doc Hastings). In the primary, Didier came in first, and had the parties simply selected their nominees at that point, he would have become the Republican nominee running in the fall against a Democrat; in this very Republican district, he would have won easily. Under the new system, two Republicans – Didier and Newhouse – will be running, and Newhouse has the odds since he is likely to pick up most of the non-Republican, as well as many of the Republican, votes.

Democrats may not have been thrilled about having no candidate in the 4th come November; and if Didier loses the Tea Party won’t be thrilled either. But the people in between in the 4th may be happier with their choices.

Points worth reflecting as Oregon considers in a few weeks how to structure its own primaries.

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Sep 07 2014

A gradual slowing down?

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

This is the point at which general election campaigns start to ramp up, kick into gear, run their ads and hit their top pace. Especially in places like Oregon and Washington, where the effective campaign season only runs until the ballots hit the mail in mid-to-late October.

A campaign that seems to be moving in the other direction: The Senate campaign of Monica Wehby.
The main point here is the cancellation by Freedom Partners – which is to say the Koch Brothers – of more than a million dollars of television advertising in the Oregon Senate race, on Republican Wehby’s behalf.

The most likely reason is analysis showing that in a year packed with close U.S. Senate races, Oregon’s increasingly isn’t looking likely to be one of them. Last week also saw release of a Rasmussen poll showing Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley with a solid and persistent lead over Wehby.

There could be another factor, too. Ads taking after an incumbent senator necessarily have to go negative, but push the harshness too far and it can backfire, notably in Oregon, which generally likes its politics civil. Freedom Partners ads are not noted for their gentle touch, and someone may have started to figure out that their approach wasn’t getting the job done.

They also provided a fine target for Merkley, who described the “Koch/Wehby agenda” as “reward[ing] corporations that ship jobs overseas” and “gutting the clean air act.” Wehby’s campaign took issue with some of the specifics, but the link to the Kochs ensured the damage was done.

The early Wehby campaign TV spots didn’t notably exhibit that problem; they focused on introducing the Portland physician in a positive way, and settling for a slogan, “Keep your doctor, change your senator.”

Going that far did no harm to Wehby’s campaign, but it wasn’t pushing it forward either. In an age when TV ads are becoming less effective generally, a video has to make a major splash to have a real effect. Her most recent recent ads, which have avoided directly mentioning Merkley, have not been a major departure, but neither are they likely to get people talking. With the end of native Koch ads, she may have to change tack. The problem is that the larger the splash, the more uncertain the potential fallout.

It all has the feel of a gradual slowdown.

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Aug 31 2014

Hatfield? McCall? U’Ren?

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

Maybe states should do this every so often: Consider the people whose visages grace the statuary at the U.S. Capitol, and whether there might be better choices.

Oregon is doing that now, by way of a panel selected by the governor (see the Culture section), reconsidering whether the state’s two representatives at the nation’s capitol ought to be John McLaughlin annd Jason Lee.

McLoughlin seems a logical enough choice, even he was in Oregon as head of the British-based Hudson’s Bay Company; he eventually helped Americans organize the area and has been called the “Father of Oregon.”
Lee, though, was a missionary who played a significant but not decisive role in the early development of Oregon. Even a century ago better choices could be made.

If Lee is to be replaced – and let’s say the betting might reasonably run that way – who should take his spot?

Right now, the inside track may go to Mark Hatfield, the former governor and senator who served as a Republican but for many years has been pointed out by people in both major parties as an exemplar of Oregonian public service. His relatively recent death would make him a sentimental favorite too.
A couple of other choices, at least, might also get some consideration.

Probably Oregon’s best-known political figure of the last few generations, even more than Hatfield, is Tom McCall, the flamboyant governor more controversial in his own time than many people remember now, but can fairly be pointed out as an innovator and true leader. Some of what people think they recall about McCall doesn’t hold up perfectly to scrunity – he had less, for example, to do with the state’s bottle bill than many now would suspect – but what he stood for matches up well with the way Oregon likes to present itself.

Or you could back a little further, to early in the 20th century, and seize on a man who never held a major public office but changed the state’s politics and political outlook more than many who did.

William U’Ren was a legislator, but he did his major work as an activist, pushing through the initiative and referendum (often called the “Oregon system”) and a list of other reforms.

Oregon has some good choices for the capitol, if it chooses to make them.

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Aug 17 2014

Armoring up the Northwest

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Washington

The national news stories about Ferguson, Missouri, the heavy-duty local arms brought to bear by local law enforcement and the general militarization of law enforcement raised the question: Here in the Northwest, too?

You bet.

In our small home town of 2,000 people, this isn’t much an issue: The mode here is community policing, and it’s worked just fine over the years; our town isn’t much militarized. Our county (Yamhill, in Oregon) is among the small minority which hasn’t received military surplus gear, which is where a great deal of the arms come from.

The New York Times has mapped, by county, the recipients of such surplus gear from coast to coast, since 2006. Bearing in mind the eight-year time frame, the number do tend to look a little more modest then they first seem, so that should be borne in mind.) The overwhelming majority of counties have participated. In Washington state, all but three of the 39 counties have participated; in Oregon, all but 10 of the 36 counties do; and in Idaho, all but nine of the 44 do.

(The counties not opting in are – Washington: Ferry, Columbia and Garfield; Oregon: Yamhill, Benton, Linn, Curry, Jacons, Lake, Harney, Crook, Jefferson, Wasco; Idaho: Adams, Payette, Elmore, Boise, Camas, Cassia, Custer, Butte, Teton).

What do they get? Assault rifles – defined here as including 5.56-mm and 7.62-mm rifles, were sent to nearly all Northwest counties that received any surplus goods at all.

You might expect the most expansive armory would be the region’ by-far largest county, King, and it is: 201 night-vision pieces, 120 assault rifles, 105 body armor pieces – plus two helicopters and one mine-resistent vehicle. (One other Northwest county, Snohomish, also snagged a helicopter.)

Do they really have many road mines to worry about in King County? You might ask small, rural Lincoln County, Washington, the same thing: It also has such a vehicle. So do a number of other counties, including Snohomish, Pierce, Whatco, Yakima, Lewis, and Chelan in Washington, Clackamas, Polk and Baker in Oregon, and Canyon, Kootenai and Franklin in Idaho.

Multnomah County, home of make-love-not-war Portland, picked up 88 assault rifles (though nothing else). Lane County (Eugene) grabbed 490 night vision pieces (what’s going on there at night?), plus 76 assault rifles, 36 body armor pieces and two armored vehicles.

Even many of the smallest, most lightly populated counties, with only a few law enforcement personnel, picked up some good. Little Clark County, Idaho, with fewer than 1,000 people and light law enforcement (not a lot usually is needed there), got three assault rifles. Up on the Canadian border, Boundary County got not only five assault rifles and one body armor piece but – and you really have to wonder about this – 203 night-vision pieces.

You also have to wonder about the counties that picked up on military grenade launchers. In Oregon, Deschutes and Klamath obtained them, and so did Bannock and Blaine in Idaho.

Several questions emerge from all of this. One is, what is the cost of maintaining and securing all this? Another is, how much of it is really needed? Another: What’s the temptation to use all this fancy (and in some cases deadly) equipment that’s just, you know, lying around?

And: Is the Northwest really dangerous enough that most of it could be described as a militarized zone?

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Aug 08 2014

On the hamster wheel

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

It was a little while after word of the departure of University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson that a key point about the terms of departure became clear.

The basics about the departure were released immediately, though there wasn’t much clarity as to why he was leaving. The only explanation was that he wanted more time with his family, but really: He’d only been in the job for two years. He seemed to do well enough as president, made no major (visible) errors and from the outside looked to be headed toward a tenure of a number of additional years. And this guy they’d just hired, after an expensive year-long national search, was leaving, and they apparently gave him an immediate okay to go. Even an incentive of nearly a million dollars: $940,000, which apparently was a gift, not at all contractually required in the event of his resignation. (The figure came from the combination of a year’s pay as president and a year as a tenured professor, which he also contractually has been.)

The first matter at hand, of course, is: Why such a generous departure payment for someone who simply quit early? The governing board made a reference to the “contributions” he made – but isn’t that part of the job, what he was being paid for as a matter of course? What were the contributions that were so massive they qualified for a million-dollar gift?

Then there’s: Why is he leaving? (Apparently it isn’t for a higher paycheck elsewhere; he said he has no other job lined up.) You can count on this much: We haven’t heard all of the reason, whatever it may be, yet.

And this: Is this the prompt for yet another year-long nation-wide search, the leadership status in which most of our universities seem to spending about a quarter to a third of their time? It seems a peculiar kind of status for institutions where brilliantly inspired top leadership is taken to be so important.

As a matter of going forward: UO has chosen its provost (academic vice president) Scott Coltrane as interim president. Based on their description of him, he seems a perfectly decent choice, a university administrator for a decade and a dean, then provost, at UO since 2008. He’s apparently a respected administrator, and he knows something about UO. Why not save themselves the trouble and just strike the “interim” from his title, and be done with it?

Much better than the hamster wheel they’re likely to fire up yet again.

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Aug 06 2014

More IPO candidates ahead?

Published by under Harris,Oregon

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

Under Independent Party of Oregon rules, the nominating caucus may fill vacancies for any elective position.

Following the July online primary vote which nominated numerous candidates to office, The IPO has declared several House and Senate positions vacant. These seats are ones where no candidate applied, or was qualified by the caucus. Applicants have until August 15th, 2014 to apply.

IPO leaders indicate that they are particularly interested in candidates in districts where currently only one major party candidate will be appearing on the November general election ballot.

They say that in heavily gerrymandered districts where the winner of the dominant party primary is the presumptive winner in November, an independent candidate would offer independents, voters from the non dominant party, and even moderate voters of the dominant party, more choices.

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Jul 27 2014

Vic Atiyeh, and another governor

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

During the late 70s and early 80s I was covering politics in Idaho, not Oregon, so the governor I was watching at close range was not Vic Atiyeh but rather John Evans.

Both of them died this month.

And the comparisons between the two, as I thought about it, became eerily extensive.

They were mirror images of opposing parties. Atiyeh was a Republican who had to deal with strongly Democratic legislatures; Evans a Democrat who had to deal with strongly Republican legislatures.

Both grew up working in the family business (ranching and banking for Evans, a rug store for Atiyeh) and each expanded them substantially as an adult and after serving as governor.

Both were elected governor twice, in 1978 and 1982. In their re-election campaigns, each defeated a candidate of the opposing party who would go on to be elected governor later (Ted Kulongoski in Oregon, Phil Batt in Idaho). Each had run for office statewide once before serving as governor, but each also had an extensive state legislative resume. Neither ran for office again after leaving the governorship. (Evans ran for the Senate in 1986, but he was still governor.)

They even shared a name: Victor Atiyeh and John Victor Evans.

They were governor of their states during economic hard times, and focused (in different ways) on business recovery. As personalities, though serving as governor, both were often overshadowed in the public by other political figures of their own party (Atiyeh by Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield, Evans by Frank Church and Cecil Andrus), though that related more to charisma than to capability.

They had a lot in common as people, too. They were friendly and accessible – notably so, this being a quality appreciated more in hindsight than at the time. If they were a little short on charisma that may relate to a preference to stick to the job, to work for the state and to maintain a sense of humility under circumstances where that can be challenging.

I can’t say for sure whether Atiyeh and Evans liked each other. But I have a hard time thinking that they didn’t. For good reason.

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Jul 23 2014

Two of one party in November?

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

Critics of Oregon’s proposed top two open primary say one weakness is that in some districts the top two who advance to the general election may be from the same party. A report from the Independent Voter Network, takes a look at California Senate District 28, where two Republicans advanced onto the November general election.

Their conclusion? It’s a good thing. With Republican voters making up just 40% of the voters in SD-28, it means that the two Republican finalists will now be forced to appeal not just to Republican primary voters, but to all voters. This has caused the candidates to minimize ideology and focus on local issues that matter to more voters.

Wedge issues aren’t nearly as effective when you have two candidates from the same party.

Frankly, all the wailing that a top two open primary will occasionally result in two Republicans or two Democrats taking the top two spots is a red herring. In fact, it’s one of the strengths of the proposal.

In Oregon, under the current closed primary system heavily Democratic or Republican districts produce a single candidate in November. In 20 of the 60 Oregon House races this November voters will get one major party candidate to vote for. In the 66 Oregon Senate seats up for election, 6 of them will likewise feature one major party candidate. Over one third of Oregon’s Legislature is basically uncontested and features a single major party candidate.

At least under the open primary system there’s a likelihood that these 26 races would feature two major party candidates, even if they are from the same party. This would give voters a choice. And for candidates in heavily R or D districts, they couldn’t just pander to either the public employee unions leaders or the Chamber of Commerce in their respective primaries and then prepare for their coronation in November.

When Our Oregon supporter or a tea party member claims that a top two open primary may result in two Democrats or two Republicans advancing to the November ballot. Say…GREAT! That doubles voter choice of major party candidates in a third of our Legislative districts.

Note: This isn’t an endorsement of the open primary initiative, on which I’m undecided. It is a critique of the Democratic and Republican hypocrisy in their criticism that the open primary reduces choices.

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Jul 18 2014

The nature of the debate

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

Debates are about perceptions, and the two gubernatorial candidates at the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association debate hit in that hard enough. Both were a little hamstrung, but not barred from pitching their case.

The core case that Republican state Representative Dennis Richardson made against Governor John Kitzhaber was not one that this very conservative (in the conventional sense of the term) might have been expecting to make. It was not at all ideological: Instead, he described the governor as detached, disinterested, too often not showing up, “not tuned in to governing.”

“The first principle of leadership is showing up,” Richardson said near the start of the debate, and said near the end, “Our governor no longer has the passion to serve . . . The governor has been AWOL, and when he’s here has been distracted.”

He did not make any strong suggestion of a basic, fundamental change in direction, limiting his areas of dispute to more specific ideas – Kitzhaber’s handling of Cover Oregon or aspects of his support for the Columbian River Crossing bridge, for example, rather than the overall need for action on health care or bridge infrastructure. He almost seemed – whether it was the case or not – to have conceded those issues. On the subject of legalizing marijuana, he sidestepped completely, saying only that he would enforce whatever law Oregon voters passed; it fell to Kitzhaber to say that he would vote against the measure (and, like his opponent, try to learn from Washington’s experience and enforce whatever the voters ordered).

He did not, as most Republicans would, blast away at the idea of big government, even to the extent that Kitzhaber’s last opponent, Chris Dudley, did.
Richardson is known as a philosophically-oriented conservative, and won his seat in the legislature originally on that basis, but in a day of sharply-drawn philosophical lines, almost none emerged here. He seemed to stake his gubernatorial bid on the idea that Kitzhaber has been phoning in his job as governor, even pointing out more than once that he’s been in Salem a minority of the time.
That may not be an easy sell, and Kitzhaber’s de facto response was telling. He did not specifically say that he still had a passion for the job or worked hard at it, which would have sounded weak and would have simply repeated Richardson’s argument.

Instead, he pointed to the things he has done, over a third term in which the length of large-scale accomplishments – from education reorganization, health care policy, PERS changes and many more items – is quite long. And he could, and did, point out that he had Republican support (including, in several key places, Richardson’s) in doing those thing.

Kitzhaber’s best piece was his closing, when he describes, after falling short on several objectives in the 2013 legislative session, he spent months traveling around the state crafting a legislative package which, in three days last fall, passed in spectacular fashion. It was an effective rebuttal to the notion of a passive or disinterested governor.
Both said they supported open primary elections, ad Richardson even said he saw a benefit in the tendency to press candidates on both sides toward the electoral middle.

In one place, Richardson called for a truly massive government project I’ve never heard anyone else propose: “A freeway from Coos Bay to Burns to Ontario.” (The price tag on that would be interesting to read.)

Interestingly, Richardson never bore in specifically on the matter of Kitzhaber’s long tenure of what would 16 years in the state’s top office if he wins. He suggested only that he would do it better.
With one major exception, one place where he specifically sounded more clearly like a conservative Republican.

That concerned federal lands, which amounted to 53% of Oregon. Kitzhaber, who dryly noted that “I don’t think the feds are going to hand over control of federal lands,” spoke with some optimism about “federal forest management reform.” In this area, Richardson said he would press for exactly that, a turning over of federal lands to the state: With like-minded governors, he said, “I will lead that charge, I will be in Washington. D.C.”

That much formed a basis of a major policy difference between the candidates. How far it sells in the more populated sectors of Oregon may be another question – as is whether it constitutes a argument for firing John Kitzhaber.

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Jun 28 2014

What they use on the farm

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The chemistry of farming is becoming an unexpectedly heated subject of discussion which is about to go deeply political.

The issue of genetic modification has already gone political, of course, notably in Jackson and Josephine Counties, where voters chose to ban those substances. (The vote was advisory only in Josephine, since state law didn’t allow a by-county change anywhere but Jackson.)

That issue going statewide, with either legislative or ballot issue action almost surely just around the bend.

Then there’s the matter of pesticides, which have been popping up in headlines around the state more and more.

You’ll note in this issue, for example, the Department of Agriculture is taking additional steps to protect bees and other pollinators from exposure to specific pesticide products following multiple incidents of bee deaths this summer. In adopting a temporary rule, ODA is prohibiting the use of pesticide products containing the active ingredients dinotefuran and imidacloprid on linden trees or other species of Tilia.

Then there were the reports out of Eugene contending that trees which were treated with certain types of chemicals (mainly with the idea of protection against pests) sprayed on to trees could do harm to bee populations in the areas where the trees were replanted.

What seems to be changing about some of this, and is taking the issue more directly political, is the distribution element. Some groups of people long have been critics of various types of chemicals or bioengineering, but those complaints were not likely to become a big political deal as long as the people (and plants, and animals) affected by them were only those already inside a system of mutual agreement – contracting partners of some type. When wind can blow the substances elsewhere, making non-participants unwitting and unwilling participants, a totally new legal element has been introduced.

A new set of standards will be needed to cope with this. It may be coming soon.

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Jun 23 2014

Unremarked improvement

Published by under Oregon,Oregon column

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

You really do get the sense sometimes that people pay attention only to bad news.
Oregon, like many other states (its neighbors among them), has been seeing not spectacular but steady improvement in its economic picture this year. More numbers to that effect came in this past week, with (for one major example) unemployment numbers running closer to the norms of reasonably prosperous times.
You have to qualify a lot of this. There’s been some diminishing of what’s considered the full work force, so practical unemployment is still higher than Oregonians would like to see.
But it is getting better.
Take a look too at the story (in the local government section) on Metro construction receipts, which starts, “It’s been a banner year for construction in the Portland region – so much so that the region’s construction tax has generated about 20 percent more than its original forecast for the current grant cycle.”
That’s not a small deal, and the overall pace of construction around the state seems to bear that out.
In a good many places, you do get the sense of people taking a breath of relief.
Now, of course, would be the right time to look at areas of restructuring the state could do with. The long-discussed talk about rejiggering the state’s tax structure would be a good thing to get underway at this point, maybe peaking about the same time the state’s economy does. Economic reorganization talk tends to yield a little more productivity during times when money is flowing more freely.
There’s work to do now, too.

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Jun 19 2014

Independents choose primary candidates

Published by under Harris,Oregon

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

After a long caucus meeting last night, the Independent Party of Oregon announced the first round of candidates who will appear on it’s primary ballot this summer.

The IPO received requests from 62 candidates to be included in it’s primary election and approved 18 to appear on it’s primary ballot. Prospective candidates included Republicans, Democrats, IPO members, non affiliated candidates and Libertarians. Some had already received their party nominations and some had not. The IPO had candidates applying for County Commission races, State races, and Federal races.

The featured primary race will be for Governor between Republican Dennis Richardson and Democrat John Kitzhaber. Other hotly contested races that will appear on the ballot include Senate Districts 3, 13 and 15, where an Independent cross nomination could make a difference in a close November general election.

In two races, IPO candidates Chuck Lee (HD-25) and Drew Kaza (SD-16) won’t face any primary opposition so their nomination will set up one on one general election races against a single major party candidate. In HD-25 presumptive Independent candidate Chuck Lee will face very conservative Republican Bill Post and in SD-16 presumptive Independent candidate Drew Kaza will face Democrat Betsy Johnson.

The IPO will continue to review pending applications and more candidates are expected to join the approved list by the end of the week. Once approved, the IPO intends to publish it’s own voters guide and send it to all 100,000 members.

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Jun 10 2014

Open primary for OR Independents?

Published by under Harris,Oregon

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

Democracy reform continues to gain momentum. Fixing the process in a way that empowers voters, not donors, is gaining grassroots momentum. Mainstream media is publishing more articles about primary reforms.

But there is one way to have an open primary for all Oregon’s independent voters who were shut out of the State sponsored and paid for elections of our most important offices.

The Independent Party of Oregon is in the midst of preparing for a primary election. With 100,000 members, it’s more than six times larger than any other minor party, and is nearing 5% of total voters. Non affiliated voters, those not registered as belonging to a recognized party, make up about 23% of the electorate. Together i/Independents number almost as many as registered Republicans.

So, perhaps the IPO should open up it’s primary this election to NAV’s. If as Democrats like to claim most IPO members really think they are NAV, then the IPO is almost obligated to open it up. If as the IPO leaders state the party exists to allow non major party candidates a legal roadway to enter the political marketplace, then opening up the election to NAV”s is a logical step now that it has neared major party status.

The reasons it shouldn’t open it’s primary are: A relatively small group of motivated voters could skew the outcomes of some races. I suppose that is correct, and some of those candidates may be fringe rather than centrist, however, that may be the will of the i/Independents in Oregon. But there certainly is a risk that the IPO (Independent Party of Oregon) could end up with several tea party candidates in Southern Oregon, and several very progressive candidates in the Portland area. But, isn’t that the general makeup of the Oregon voter profile geographically?

And of course there is the time and effort involved in running an election without State support. And sometimes even in the face of actual antagonism from our elected officials. Vote security, broadcasting the availability and process, and actual volunteer hours.

They would all be significant challenges. (Perhaps some of the media would partner with the IPO to broadcast the process. I think public service announcements are still required as a condition of licensing.)

It would be a huge lift. But with the right publicity, assistance from key places, and some additional volunteers, it could be done.

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Jun 08 2014

An Oregon top two

Published by under Oregon,Stapilus

stapilus RANDY
STAPILUS

 
The View
from Here

If James Kelly and Brett Wilcox succeed in getting their top-two primary proposal on to the ballot, I sure wouldn’t bet against it passing. (See the Oregonian article out today on this.)

Part of the reason is that anyone who isn’t a registered Republican or Democrat automatically would have a reason to vote for it: It would give them meaningful entre into a bunch of primary races they’re now closed off from. And while 20 years ago the number of non-major party registered voters in Oregon was roughly about half the number of Republican or of Democrats, they’re now more numerous than Republicans and not far off from Democrats.

(I’ll admit to some bias here, being a longtime shut-out NAV registrant. I know I could register opportunistically to vote in either party’s primary and then switch back, but that sort of thing just doesn’t feel very honest to me.)

That’s a huge voting block of about a third of the electorate.

Plenty of major party members likely would be in favor too, though. Both parties would have increased opportunities in legislative districts and in other venues where they currently have no realistic chance of winning; general elections have no real significance in most of the state. Moreover, a larger variety of people from both parties could wind up serving, expanding the tents on both sides.

You don’t even get the sense that many of the top elected officials in place now necessarily would be much opposed to the idea.

And while the idea hasn’t exactly wonderfully reformed politics in Washington and California, it hasn’t hurt, either, and people seem happy enough with it.

This could happen.

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May 28 2014

Voter turnout plummets

Published by under Harris,Oregon

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

Oregon primary voter turnout for the 2014 primary was 32.7% . The lowest percentage of any primary since the Secretary of State started keeping statistics online. This is an acceleration of the trend reported on Oregon Outpost a week ago.

One obvious reason – the drop in major party registered voters. In April of the 14,661 new voters, only 36% joined the Democratic or Republican Party. Thats COMBINED. While 64% opted to not join any party, or to join a minor party. Non Major party voters get ballots full of judicial races – usually with a single candidate – low profile non partisan races, and a few ballot measures.

My ballot – I assume typical for a non major party voter – had two contested races. Both for Washington County Commissioner. While I did vote, I understand why turnout of non major party voters was a paltry 18.9% statewide. There’s little for us to vote on or get excited about.

With the continuing crash in the numbers of registered Democratics and Republicans, expect to see:

Lower voter turnout in primary elections, because there are simply less D’s and R’s to vote.
A tighter grip by financiers of the major parties on financial issues (public employee unions, traded sector corporations), as it takes more money to reach non i/Independent voters who are locked out of the primaries and less interested in finding out about D’s and R’s.
More influence within major parties by those with special social issue interests (anti choice, environmental). When there are less foot soldiers for campaigns, the most motivated become the most valuable and important.
A firmer stance against any democracy reforms that would encourage more participation by non major party voters (tightening election laws that favor the Dem’s and Rep’s, defeating reforms like approval voting, and assuring unfettered money to major party candidates directly or through third parties)

This inevitably will lead to a spiral of reduced primary participation as more voters, particularly new voters, become disaffected from the major political parties power structure and opt to register as i/Independents.

Over the coming days, we’re going to be taking a look at various primary races around the state. Where there was only a single candidate from one party on the ballot. Where each major party had a single candidate on the ballot. And where one party had multiple candidates, but the other party had none.

Stay tuned to see how democratic our election process really is. Or isn’t.

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The latest tv ad for Idaho gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff.

 

Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.
See the FIGHTING THE ODDS page.


 
JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

How many copies?

 
THE OREGON POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
THE IDAHO POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.
WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
How many copies?
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
 
Idaho 100 NOW IN KINDLE
 
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.
 

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.


 

    Top-Story-graphic-300x200_topstory8
    Monday mornings on KLIX-AM

    watergates

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Randy Stapilus

    Water rights and water wars: They’re not just a western movie any more. The Water Gates reviews water supplies, uses and rights to use water in all 50 states.242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    intermediary

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Lin Tull Cannell

    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. 15 years in the making, this is one of the most dramatic stories of early Northwest history. 242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    Upstream

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    The Snake River Basin Adjudication is one of the largest water adjudications the United States has ever seen, and it may be the most successful. Here's how it happened, from the pages of the SRBA Digest, for 16 years the independent source.

    Paradox Politics

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    After 21 years, a 2nd edition. If you're interested in Idaho politics and never read the original, now's the time. If you've read the original, here's view from now.


    Governing Idaho:
    Politics, People and Power

    by James Weatherby
    and Randy Stapilus
    Caxton Press
    order here

    Outlaw Tales
    of Idaho

    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    It Happened in Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    Camping Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here