Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Stapilus”

Together again, eventually


The first redistricting kerfluffle in Idaho emerged last week over a proposal that almost certainly will not come to fruition in the next ten years, but very likely will after that.

So it wasn’t a bad idea to raise, just to get people accustomed.

It emerged out of the meetings of Idaho’s bipartisan redistricting commission, which from all appearances so far seems to be operating as a cooperative and professional group. (Yes, it actually can happen.) As part of the early stages of the process, they’re developing a bunch of plans and throwing them out there, not with the idea that any one of them necessarily is under serious consideration, but simply to make all the options visible.

They’re working on plans for Idaho’s 35 legislative districts and its two congressional districts.

One of those congressional district plans generated headlines about “Ada and Canyon - together at last!” And that’s sort of what would happen.

Idaho has had two congressional districts since shortly after the 1910 census, and from that decade up to 1966, Ada County was placed in the second congressional district - along with eastern Idaho - and Canyon County was in the first - along with points north. The district lines hardly changed during all that time, mostly a reflection of how inexact reapportionment was in all those years.

A 1962 Supreme Court case, Baker v. Carr, slammed down on the many states (Idaho being one of many) that weren’t reapportioning properly, and in 1966 Idaho came up with new maps both on the legislative and congressional levels - really, the first proper reapportionment in the state’s history. In that new map, Ada County was bumped from the second to the first congressional district, which had an immediate political impact. Ada was more Republican then than it is now, and the first district went from Democratic to Republican control. (That was the real jump start for James McClure’s long congressional career.)

Redistricting soon got more precise. After the 1970 census, mappers concluded that Ada County should be split between the two districts, with part of eastern Ada County and Boise carved off for the second. It’s been that way ever since, the congressional district line shifting only slightly through the middle of Boise to account for variances in the population to the east and north. There’s been no serious attempt since to place all of Ada in one district again.

It’s possible, though, as the new options map shows. The population of Ada and Canyon now is such that you could place a string of counties including those two from the Oregon line east through Twin Falls, and that would have enough people for a congressional district. It would be compact and, on its own terms, could make sense. It would have a unifying strip along Interstate 84, and there’d be some community of interest.

The problem would be the remaining district, which would link northern Idaho with eastern Idaho - or, to put it another way, Bonners Ferry with Montpelier. The two big pieces of that district would have almost no practical road connection or community of interest (even if their politics these days are similar). Such a district would lead to understandable outrage through the east and north.

So that map is not going to happen this time.

However. When the 2030 census comes around, there’s a good chance Idaho will have just enough population for three congressional districts, for the first time ever.

When that happens, much of the population increase probably will be driven by the Ada-Canyon area, and a district based around southwestern Idaho will become very likely, alongside much bigger (geographically) districts to the north and east.

So drafting that Ada-Canyon map this time around may serve a purpose: It may get people ready for what a three-district Idaho may look like in another decade.

How rare a contest?


The contest for Oregon governor in the coming year has been described, often, as the most wide-open in a long time.

A riffle back through Oregon political history shows it’s true. Many campaign cycles for governor feature one or two major figures who seem to dominate the picture, and more often than not you could make a reasonable guess more than a year out who would be elected to the office.

Not so much this year.

It’s not that the field - which still is in its early stages of populating - is likely to consist of obscure or thinly qualified people. Oregon’s treasurer, labor commissioner, and House Speaker may be in the field, along with a former Republican nominee for the office, several experienced local government officials, and even, maybe, a New York Times columnist.

But none have the kind of dominant profile in statewide politics - out in the public - that suggests any of them as an obvious front runner.

If an incumbent governor, or a previous governor, is on the ballot, such a person almost always would have that status. That was the case in 2018, 2016, 2014, 2010 and 2006, and in each of those elections, the incumbent or former governors (Kate Brown, John Kitzhaber, and Ted Kulongoski) who were running won the election. That current-or-former governor situation also applied in many other historically recent years: 1998, 1982, 1970, and 1962.

That still leaves a scattering of elections where the title “governor” wasn’t pre-attached to a contender, but in many of those, top candidates were still strongly positioned. In 2002, for example, Ted Kulongoski was not an incumbent but he had been both an attorney general and a Supreme Court justice and had run for governor as a Democratic nominee once before. He was a well-known political figure in the state, and had been for years.

In 1994 John Kitzhaber had a high profile as state Senate president and was a strong enough political figure to openly and prominently challenge a governor of his own party, Barbara Roberts, in the Democratic primary. That bold move made him an even more formidable-looking figure, and when she ultimately decided not to run, Kitzhaber was positioned automatically as of gubernatorial stature.

The 1990 election may in some ways have been the most up-for-grabs governor’s race in recent decades in Oregon, but it wasn’t wide open because it featured not a multitude of even-matched contenders but just two major figures, Roberts (then secretary of state) and Republican Attorney General David B. Frohnmayer.

In 1986, Neil Goldschmidt had been Portland mayor and national secretary of transportation and was highly known statewide (albeit not favorably everywhere). When Republican Vic Atiyeh ran and won in 1978, he was building off a strong but failed gubernatorial campaign four years earlier when he defeated - in very high profile fashion - former Governor Tom McCall. Beating a former governor in their own primary is one way to build political status.

To reach an Oregon governor’s campaign with only relatively low-profile candidates on the ballot, you have to go back to the 1950s, or maybe 1948 - and even there the term “relative” is important. In 1956 when Democrat Robert Holmes defeated incumbent Republican Elmo Smith, Holmes was an only moderately-known legislator and Smith had just recently ascended to the governorship when his predecessor died in office; neither was really a major figure in the state at the time. In 1948 when James McKay was elected governor, he had been known strictly as a legislator and mayor of Salem, though he became a major figure later as secretary of the interior.

So how does all this compare with what seems to be emerging today?

The top place to get to the governorship in Oregon, in recent decades, has been to start from there or to have been governor before. That won’t apply this time; the three living current or former governors won’t be on the ballot. Nor is anyone with past or current congressional experience likely to appear.

The next best starting point is the first office in line of succession (in that sense, Oregon’s equivalent to lieutenant governor), secretary of state. Roberts, McCall, and Hatfield all held that office when they were elected as governor. But the new secretary of state, Shemia Fagan, has taken herself out of contention for this election.

Goldschmidt was a mayor of Portland, the top public elected executive job in the state and in theory a post that could help propel a political candidate. In theory. In practice, the current Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler, has been enmeshed for several years in the tar pit of Portland politics and is in no position now to launch a gubernatorial campaign.

Historically, state treasurer has sometimes been a decent jumping off point as well; Robert Straub held that post when he was elected governor. But he also had run for governor before, building a strong statewide base that augmented his work in the usually low-headline office. Tobias Read, the current treasurer, seems interested in running and may be a strong contender, but his reach has yet to be put to the test. You could say that question of statewide support would also apply to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and House Speaker Tina Kotek.

That question of true reach is the question other significant officeholders also face. Yamhill County Commission Casey Kulla is among the few to directly enter the race so far, but a vault from a local government office directly to governor does seem a long shot. (That would also apply to the half-dozen or so other prospects whose background is in local, rather than state or federal, government.)

If New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof runs as he has expressed interest in doing, and if he does well, he definitely would be breaking a mold. Basketball player Chris Dudley did come close to beating Kitzhaber in 2010, but even closing close (and this isn’t horseshoes) was a highly unusual event.

There is, of course, one other factor: Every election is an opportunity to break a seemingly unbreakable rule of elections. Every presidential election for decades has been won but someone who, by the usual rules of thumb, should have lost instead. Old rules are re-adjusted regularly.

They may be again in the 2022 Oregon race for governor.

(This column originally appeared in the McMinnville, Oregon, News-Register. photo/Jon Roanhaus)



It does seem that city elected officials, absent a districting requirement, tend to clump their residences closely together.

In my small town, three of the seven elected officials have for the last two election cycles lived within a couple of blocks of each other, and two of the others, in another part of town, live nearby each other. It’s a small town, but this isn’t exactly widespread dispersal of elected officials.

I’ve seen this persistently in a variety of communities. It seems to be a not-universal but very common phenomenon. Are there reasons certain parts of many communities seem to generate more local activists? It would make for a useful study.

So while the underlying reasons may have been partisan when the Idaho Legislature acted to require cities of over 100,000 people to elect their councils by district and not at large, the effect is reasonable. (Two other Idaho cities, Meridian and Nampa, also are over 100,000 according to the newest census, but they’re arguing for holding off the change for another two years given limitations of the election calendar.)

Boise is a good case study. For generations, most of the city’s elected officials - council and mayor - have lived in one area of town, usually (not always) in or near the city’s North End. This goes way back.

One of the maps on the Boise city clerk’s council election website makes the point clearly. It shows (generally) where in town the current council members live. One of them, TJ Thomson (who will depart from the council after this term), lives on the west side of the city. All the others - Patrick Bageant, Lisa Sanchez, Jimmy Hallyburton, Elaine Clegg and Holli Woodings - live in or near the North End area.

That means no council members from southern or western (exception noted) or northwestern or eastern Boise.

The new districting approach will change that. New representatives will come from three new districts which haven’t sent anyone to city hall, plus a replacement for Thomson in the west Boise district.

To be clear, though: This is a moving picture. Only three council districts will be up for election this year, in districts 1 (the west, where Thomson lives), 3 (Boise north of Garden City and including the western North End) and 5 (the rest of the North End and some of the East End). The council members up for election this year are those whose terms were ending under the old system.

Here is what the city says about how that works: “Council members elected to these districts this year will serve two-year terms. In 2023 all six council districts will be up for election using a map that will be updated using 2020 census data. In 2023, odd-numbered districts will run for four-year terms and even-numbered districts will run for two-year terms so that council elections are staggered. We cannot legally shorten the term that a current council member is serving.”

It actually does make some sense - given the constraints of the law - but a lot of Boiseans probably will be wondering what’s happening exactly. And the people of southern and most of central Boise still will have to wait another couple of years before getting a shot at a council seat - unlike in the past, they’re actually disqualified from it this time.”

Again, though, this will straighten itself out with time. And odds are that the Boise council going forward will not be radically different from those of the recent past.

That’s not just guesswork. A generation ago, Boise was split brightly into red and blue sectors, with nearby neighborhoods leaning in different ways at general elections. Democrats and Republicans each could easily get elected in some parts of town and not in others. Today, the large bulk of Boise is more like shades of blue, some closer to purple than others but - and you can see this in recent state legislative results - all but relatively small pieces of town friendly toward Democrats. (Step a few feet outside city limits, of course, and conditions change.)

But the new representation will come from a broader reach, a wider area. People in many parts of town no doubt feel they’re being overlooked, and they have some cause for that. After another election or two, that may change, at least to a point.

Other cities around Idaho without districts would do well to watch and see how Boise does with this. It might provide a path for more of them to follow.

Return of the JBS


Out in the deserts of eastern Idaho, I saw by the side of highways lonely and busy, the billboards promoting - in washed out colors with blunt language - the John Birch Society.

These were not old billboards. They were new.

Just as new as the reports from Kootenai and Benewah counties in northern Idaho, where local Republican Party organizations passed resolutions - and proposed the state party do likewise - supporting and urging endorsement of the John Birch Society. Brent Regen, the chieftain of the Kootenai GOP, backed the measure in his county and was quoted, “The John Birch Society is the intellectual component of conservatism. I fully support them. They are the brain trust.”

This a true throwback to the past, a time more than half a century old, when the JBS was new, growing and exerting influence in places like Idaho. After a show of organizational strength in the sixties, it faded in the seventies, and hasn’t been much visible since. Until lately. And that’s something Idahoans ought to take account of.

The JBS likes to describe itself as a supporter of the federal constitution and of limited government, but if that were all it was about, the group would be no different from half the other political organizations in the country. It has focused on much more, many dark and conspiratorial ideas. William F. Buckley, a name almost synonymous with American conservatism, warned of the organization as a paranoid menace and, a biographer said, “was beginning to worry that with the John Birch Society growing so rapidly, the right-wing upsurge in the country would take an ugly, even Fascist turn.”

Buckley spoke with then-presidential candidate Barry Goldwater about taking a stand specifically against it, and Goldwater was sympathetic but largely dodged and weaved on the issue out of fear of alienating key parts of his base. Richard Nixon did denounce the group outright, and even Ronald Reagan warned of a “lunatic fringe” coming to dominate it.

Does this rhyme with today’s environment?

The JBS was the first large-scale purveyor of political conspiracy theories, arguing that Dwight Eisenhower was a knowing communist agent and that Black efforts to secure the right to vote amounted to nothing but a communist front, among much else. Buckley again: “One continues to wonder how it is that the membership of the John Birch Society tolerates such paranoid and unpatriotic drivel.”

But in this era of Q anon and election conspiracies, the JBS is seeing a rebirth. It has taken off in parts of Texas and in scattered other parts of the county.

In July, the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee unanimously backed a resolution supporting the John Birch Society and urging “Idahoans who do not support our party platform to follow the example of Bill Brooks and voluntarily disaffiliate from the Idaho Republican Party.”

Brooks is a Kootenai County commissioner, elected as a Republican to the Kootenai County commission in 2020 and 2018 (unopposed in the general elections, though winning close primaries each time). He has fired off blasts at Regan and the John Birch Society and local Republicans’ associated with it. Recently he declared himself an independent, saying his “political beliefs have not changed. The local Republican Party has changed. They have shamelessly chosen to bind themselves to the John Birch Society. The Kootenai County Central Committee recently passed a unanimous resolution calling on all Republicans who don’t agree with the John Birch Society to leave the Republican Party.”

Local Republicans have responded with a recall attempt, results of which are expected this month.

It’ll be a referendum in part on the John Birch Society. Watch the numbers closely.

Watch also Republican Party developments in southern Idaho; those billboards didn’t get there by accident.

And keep watch too for how state Republican Party leaders respond to the local organization’s request. They’re probably feeling a little uncomfortable about it right about now.

Reordering the list


In the 1963 territorial centennial edition of the state government’s Idaho Almanac, you can find population statistics for local areas, based on the then-recent census, that might come as a surprise today.

The list of largest cities in Idaho is topped not by the perennial big city of the state (and even territory) - Boise - but rather by Pocatello, which in 1960 had 39,194 residents compared to Boise’s 34,481.

And Boise was barely hanging on to second place: Idaho Falls, in a growth mode then with the development of the national nuclear laboratory, was close behind with 33,161, and gaining on the capital city.

The exact numbers may seem a little quaint now, six decades out. And they - and cities’ rank orders - got that way partly because of several flukes. Pocatello had only recently swallowed the neighboring city of Alameda (and wasn’t far from doing the same to Chubbuck), while Boise had been holding off for some years annexing nearby unincorporated areas that were rapidly urbanizing, especially on the south side of town. Soon after (and maybe prompted by some light embarrassment at losing the state’s pole position to Pocatello), Boise did annex new areas, and gained the most-populous label it hasn’t come close to relinquishing since.

Pocatello, on the other hand, now ranks sixth in population among Idaho cities.

It’s been quite a drop in rank order, and relatively recent. When I lived in Pocatello in the 70s and 80s it was firmly ensconced as the state’s second city, albeit well behind Boise by then. Since then it hasn’t declined; the Gate City’s population has continued to grow, and it did in the last decade. It just didn’t grow by nearly as much as some of the other cities.

If that sounds like a sad story for Pocatello, don’t be so sure. Some of the advocates for boom growth may fall into the category of being careful what you wish for.

The molten hot engine of population growth in Idaho is the city of Meridian, which in 1960 had just crossed the threshold of 2,000 people. (I remember it most clearly, from my early visits there in the 70s, when it still was about that size, and just a tiny country farm town.) Now, 60 years later, it is more than 50 times as large, a close match for, say, Scottsdale, Arizona, featuring the most stunning local growth trajectory in Idaho.

Such growth was not opposed by people locally, at least in general; population and economic growth long have been considered an overwhelming good in those parts. Some of those effects clearly are good, and much of the city has a prosperous feel, but Meridian still is a mixed bag. Its crowding (not only in traffic but in residential locales too) has become uncomfortable for some people. Its taxes are rising, ironic for an area that long has been anti-tax, but inevitable for a place needing new schools and police and fire stations, added infrastructure, and much more. Fast-growth cities are expensive places for home prices, government costs and other needs.

Next door in Caldwell - the city that grew so fast it bumped Pocatello from fifth to sixth - the pressures have become visible and public. In some parts of town, city officials are trying to draw a slowdown or maybe halt on residential development, in large part because there’s not enough room or capacity for commercial and service growth to serve all those new residents. Caldwell, another of Idaho’s hot growth spots, has a proverbial tiger by its tail.

Growth trajectories often have unpredictable lines. Where will the growth come from - and where might it avoid - in the next six decades? No telling.

Kicking the can


Last November, I started a column with this barbed quote from Washington Governor Jay Inslee:

“I have urged the Idaho leaders to show some leadership. One of the reasons we have such jammed up hospitals in Spokane is because Idaho, frankly, has not done some of the things we’ve found successful.”

The states are still doing things differently, though both have experienced recent protests from people complaining about nearly anything the states have done to curtail Covid-19. The results between the two are distinctive. One study placed Washington among the 10 states with the highest vaccination rates, and Idaho among the 10 states with the lowest. An article pointed out, "In the 10 states with the lowest vaccination rates, there is an average of about 34 deaths per 1 million residents, and in states with the highest, the average is six deaths per 1 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University."

This gets echoed, in turn, in Covid-19 cases loads and death rates.

The pandemic could largely have been over by now. Vaccination has worked; as with other vaccines, some cases still slip through even with the inoculated, but populations which are more thoroughly vaccinated have either avoided Covid-19 entirely or experienced few impacts from it. The return of masking is a direct result of people failing to obtain free and easily available vaccines. Blame usually is a tricky thing to conclusively assign, but it’s not hard to do in this case.

The pandemic is not over. Here are some headlines on the Idaho Statesman web site during a single day last week:

“Canyon County hit with largest COVID-19 case increase since last November.” “More Idahoans are using ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Officials warn it could be dangerous.” (The newest member of one of Idaho’s regional health boards repeatedly has promoted ivermectin for the purpose.) “North Idaho health system nears capacity as COVID-19 surge worsens. State adds 22 deaths.” “Sheriff vows to still fight Washington COVID rules after being hospitalized with virus.” “Christian radio host who asked if vaccine is form of government control dies of COVID.” “Unvaccinated dad dies of COVID in Texas months after child is born.”

Those headlines come a couple of weeks after the state narrowly averted an Idaho legislative session for which the plan was in essence to prevent almost anyone - including private businesses, most of which have been acting very responsibly - to take steps to avoid illness and stay healthy.

One of the top stories of last week was a warning from state health officials that some Idaho hospitals are two weeks away from being swamped with Covid-19 cases - this, months after vaccines have become widely available and only a little longer than that since Idaho hospitals previously were pushed to the breaking point.

Dr. Kathryn Turner, the state's deputy state epidemiologist, seemed to suggest in a news story that may be only the beginning: “The surge is driving our projections upward to about 30,000 cases per week by mid-October. This is beyond what we saw last winter, when our cases peaked in December.”

And hospitalizations in the state could run to 2,500 a week.

This could have and should have been not much more than a one-year pandemic: Three or four months ago, we were on track to containing it, with an end or near-end to the masking and all the rest.

Now, because of specific groups of people determined to wage culture war - and sorry if that offends you, but that is the reason - it continues on, and we’re stuck with having to contain a health fire that should be mostly extinguished by now.

We’re past the point where a newly mutated virus is doing this to us. We’re now more at a point where we’re doing it to ourselves.

Drawing the lines


The numbers are in, the commissioners have been picked, and all is ready for Idaho to begin redrawing, as it does every decade, the lines for legislative and congressional districts.

This week the federal census bureau released the numbers states need to get reapportionment underway, and Idaho’s members of its districting commission (and they look like a good batch of appointees) are now in place. The state is good to go to proceed.

So what’s at stake?

One big impact is likely to be the inevitable part of the process. The metro areas in Idaho - the Ada-Canyon area and the Kootenai area especially - have been growing faster than most of the state, and they’ll be pulling in more legislative districts. In much of the rural territory of the state, districts will cover ever more geography (and will be increasingly difficult for legislators to represent). Ada, Canyon, Kootenai and Bonneville counties now account for close to half of Idaho’s population, and they’ll soon account for about half of its legislators, too.

But in Idaho the discretionary part of the work is, as has been the case for a while, less significant than in some other states. Oregon and Montana, for example, have new congressional districts to fit in, and how they’re positioned within those states, which have significant numbers of people from both parties in regions of those states, may affect how many seats each party may get in the Congress for a decade to come. In a closely-divided U.S. House, that matters nationally.

In Idaho, what probably (albeit not necessarily) will happen is that Boise will be redivided a little between the two congressional districts, moving a few of its precincts from the first congressional district (which runs to the north and west) to the second. The result might make the second district incrementally more Democratic, but it is nearly sure to remain landslide Republican; the difference is not likely to matter much.

The legislative district redraw will matter more on a partisan level, but only to a point. The basic reality is that nearly all regions of Idaho have significantly more pro-Republican voters than they do pro-Democratic. There are no big pools of Democratic voters that could, if unlocked by a remap, turn the legislature blue, or even purple; Democrats would need a lot more than that to make significant gains. That’s not to say it’s impossible, just that any advances they make will have to come through more basic organizing, messaging and other strategies.

The small number of substantial Democratic voting bases - the biggest in Boise, with smaller effective blocks in Pocatello, the Wood River Valley, Moscow and a few much smaller groups - are however small and scattered enough that a determined redistricting could split them and reduce by half or more the few relatively safe Democratic seats in the state. The Wood River Valley and Pocatello could be further divided by district lines, for example, and Boise could be sliced like a pie to reduce the number of Democratic legislators there. That hasn’t actually happened in recent redistrictings, however, and isn’t especially likely this time either; you’d have to throw out county lines and communities of interest as meaningful factors, which would leave a plan open to a court challenge. Two legislative Democrats, Senator David Nelson of Moscow and Representative Steve Berch of Boise, may be most likely to be directly impacted one way or another by the change in lines because of where their districts are located.

More important line drawing may be much more subtle. Within the Republican Party there are different strains of adherents, some more establishment-oriented, some more rebellious. (You may want to choose your own adjectives.) Redistricting can also affect legislators because of where they live; a new district may clump together more incumbent legislators than there are seats for all of them, a regular occurrence every 10 years. In a deeply-riven state Republican legislative caucus, it’ll matter who is thrown in together with who in the new districts.

The redistricting commission is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, but most of the really careful drawing is likely to be done with internal Republican considerations in mind. On many states redistricting is foremost a partisan battle. In Idaho, the upcoming primary elections are more likely to be a top consideration.

And in Idaho, that’s no small consideration.

The obnoxious strategy


Being disagreeable, showing unwillingness to work with other people, acting destructively of our system of government - have these become attractive and popular selling points for Idaho candidates?

In parts of Idaho at least, they now may be, and we may soon have a clearer picture of how favorable a selling point among voters they are statewide.

In some ways on that question, Representative Priscilla Giddings demonstrated herself last week as the tip of the spear.

Prominent sectors of politics no longer are relating to accomplishing something useful, or even advocating for one choice or another about what would be best for us. The whole question of using government to improve our society seems, for people in this branch of politics, irrelevant.

Emotion and entertainment are, in some quarters, taking precedence. Often what matters is the attack - even the substance of the attack doesn’t matter much. The fact that this person simply is acting as obnoxious as possible seems to become a primary factor for some candidates of political support and encouragement.

The traditional approach is very much the opposite: Demonstration that you can play nice with others long has been one of the primary attributes candidates liked to show off and that voters appreciate. This makes sense if you think that government is or can be - however erratically - the source of something useful.

If on the other hand, you take an absolutist cynical view that government is nothing but bad, why not reinforce that by electing people whose approach and even purpose is the lighting of dumpster fires? Why would you elect such people unless they’re a living expression of the fury in your soul - and that’s what you want reflected back to you?

Elements of this go back quite a ways. Back in the 70s, journalists sometimes referred to then-Representative and later Senator Steve Symms as “the middle finger of Idaho pointed at Washington.” There was something to this, but he was unlike today’s crowd. Symms was affable and tended to get along with people, including adversaries; he was hard to dislike on a personal level. He did also have a clear philosophical agenda which he pursued within the system. But he laid some of the groundwork, in that much of the appeal he drew on had to do with protest and anger more than solution.

This strain in Idaho politics was smaller then, but it has grown and become more intense over time.

You can see it in the actions of Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, whose approach to campaigning seems to involve generating outrage and cultural fury (the evident purpose of her “indoctrination” panel), targeting fire at the state’s establishment (her surprise executive order of this spring) and her cozy relationship with radical groups.

You can see it even more clearly in another announced gubernatorial candidate Ammon Bundy, who has to be considered a politically serious candidate for governor despite a record - involving periodic run-ins with law enforcement not to mention a lack of any constructive involvement with government - that would have rendered him politically ridiculous a few years ago.

And then there’s Giddings, recently recommended for censure by the House ethics committee, which would have been a political disaster not so long ago, but these days may be a political asset. She has attacked and dissed her fellow legislators (except for one who resigned in the wake of allegations that he assaulted a staffer) as well as a young legislative intern. She treated the ethics committee which was hearing her case with arrogance and contempt and brought her campaign into the hearing room.

She may be censured by the full House, but will she pay any political price?

She might lose membership on a minor committee, but it is, as noted, a minor one; her main committee, the budget-writing committee (the legislature’s most prestigious panel), would not be touched by the ethics panel decision.

And how will all this impact her race for lieutenant governor? Two or three decades ago, she would have been toast; today, she’ll probably pick up more campaign contributions and activist support as a result. There’s plausible reason to believe that in today’s Idaho this is a winning strategy.

How do you progress in Idaho politics today? Trash everyone and everything around you, claim you’re being conspired against at every turn, act with supreme arrogance and contempt for the law and even common courtesy, and cash the checks and welcome the supporters.

Or at least that’s what will happen as long as Idaho voters put up with it.

(image/Idaho Capital Sun)

Viewing Oregon and Idaho


First, the official announcement:

The 2022 Almanac of American Politics 50th Commemorative Edition, will be released in August 2021 and can be purchased online or by calling 1-888-265-0600. Use the code “15AAP2022” for a 15% discount during check-out.

Second, some links:

Oregon Almanac profiles of the state and the governor

Idaho Almanac profiles of the state and the governor

Third, some explanation.

I started collecting my copies of the Almanac of American Politics back in 1976; it was and still is - it's produced every two years - the best single-volume reference to politics in the United States, from the presidential level to the states and congressional districts.

The people who put it together call of sources for current information in the states and districts, and for some years I've been one of the people who have provided background information for Idaho and Oregon. Their profiles of the states, I can attest, are good and solid.

Have a look at the profiles - provided by the publisher - for yourself. You may find some information about the state to you; an outside view can sometimes do that.

If you like what you see, you might consider buying the book, which is something I've long done.

- Randy Stapilus