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Dicks’ Murtha moment

The significance of the U.S. House firestorm over Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha, a generally hawkish Democrat who has proposed a six-month pullout from Iraq, hits home in today's Seattle Times piece on Norm Dicks.

Norm DicksDicks, who has been representing a southwest Puget Sound area (roughly centered on Kitsap County) in the House since 1976, has long fit much of the same description as Murtha: A liberal out of the old Henry Jackson mold, strongly pro-military and not particularly averse to approving military action. His district, packed with military installations, is a match. He is one of those Democrats respected by Republicans, and who has long worked smoothly with Republican as well as Democratic administrations (like not only Jackson but also his old boss, Senator Warren Magnuson); he long has been one of the most keenly effective, if headline-quiet, members of the Northwest delegation.

He is a long stretch from a Democrat like Representative Jim McDermott, the Seattle liberal who opposed the Iraq war before it began; Dicks' friends are people like Murtha, and Dicks voted to authorize the war. The Times piece recounts how, as the House exploded in anger over stands on the war, Dicks sat with Murtha in the clockroom, and reflected on how things had come to this. (more…)


In partisan terms, you can call the latest Oregon legislative announcements as more or less a wash.

The least surprising was Senator Rick Metsger's statement that he won't run for governor, but would seek to stay in the Senate. Metsger would have been a long-shot, especially with his late announcement of interest and the pleentitude of other possible Democratic contenders. Democratic strategists concerned about maintaining control of the Senate probably felt a bit better, since Metsger would be in good shape for re-election. He won last time with 54% in a rural district consisting mostly of Clackamas, but also Democratic-trending Hood River County.

Mark HassOn the other hand, what may be protended if Willamette Week is correct and Representative Mark Hass opts out?

Hass, considered a Democratic moderate, represents a small slice of Multnomah County but mainly Washington County, near Beaverton - an area of considerable civic turnoil right now. The area has been trending Democratic, even strongly Democratic (Hass landslid in 2004 with about 65% and was unopposed for re-election in 2002).

But it is in turnoil, and transition in the legislative ranks - and an open seat in the middle of it all - logically would suggest opportunity to Republicans. And remember: Washington County is, right now, the pivot of Oregon politics.

Risch, to *lt* governor

Not to hammer the point too heavily, but, well, we thought this might happen. And so we can't report ourselves shocked, shocked.

Jim RischSome Idahoans probably were surprised, though, this afternoon when Lieutenant Governor Jim Risch said that he would run in 2006, not for governor as many had anticipated, but for re-election as lieutenant governor. (To which office he very likely will be returned. A quick disclosure note here: Your scribe was the manager of the 2002 general election campaign for Risch's opponent.)

One of them may be a Boise columnist who stated plainly that Risch would be seeking the governorship - as Risch, to be sure, had strongly indicated for quite a while. This space, on July 7, suggested caution in adopting that view. (more…)

Pedophilia, in another church

The comparisons are a long way from exact, and this is - so far - just one case. but what if it doesn't stay that way?

The legal case is unfolding in Federal Way, in Washington, a state where so many pedophilia cases have developed to haunt the Catholic Church. But this one was in another church, another major regional religious organization: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormons.

The case concerns two girls, now grown, sexually abused by their stepfather. All were members of the LDS Church. The elder of the girls brought the abuse to the attention of her ward's bishop but, according to the lawsuit, was told that the family should work out its problems through worship. The abuse continued, and later extended to the girl's younger sister.

What do you do with a case like that? The step-father's culpability is clear enough (provided the abuse is clearly determined), but how liable should a church be? (more…)

In for gov

And they seem surprised. And they shouldn't be. Governor Ted Kulongoski has been sending clear signals about seeking re-election for months. Now that he has filed, the race - which does have quite a few unknown elements - should start to settle down.

(His web site isn't really established yet, but it does have a homey touch.)

Among the other major (prospective) candidates, by the way, only Kevin Mannix has actually filed. The other two who have filed are Republicans, David Breen and William Spidal.

Expect the first fallout from this filing to be a thinning of the Democratic field.

Oregon House, round 1

Beaver State politics over the next year just might revolve around the governor's race. (Willamette Week has a highly-recommended and fun read on its current formal and possible players.) But it could also fizzle. The battle of significance we know will be fought out is the contest for the Oregon House.

The last few elections in Oregon have been gnetly trending the way of Democrats, and as 2005 nears its end, the next cycle looks to head that way as well.

The Oregon Senate, now in 18-12 control of Democrats, has little low-hanging fruit for either party in 2006, and Republicans seeking to take back the chamber - as they must - will find the battle uphill.

The Oregon House is a different matter, what with all 60 seats up for grabs. The 2004 election left it with 33 Republicans and 27 Democrats; six seats would have to change hands for Democrats to take over in 2007. (Two changed in the Democrats' favor last time.) On its face, that seems unlikely; we're taking about a large turnover. And yet if the year trends Democratic, it could happen, especially if Democrats run a larger effort aimed at House Republican leadership, as they have started to do. The odds seem at the moment to favor ongoing Republican control. But a shift of just four seats would be involved; the odds are slim.

We'll take several bites of the Oregon House apple. Below the fold, we'll start with a look at the 10 closests Oregon House general election results of 2004, and what they suggest for targeting in 2006. (more…)

Revenge of the pigs

On the front page of the Spokesman-Review web site (full story by subscription only):

"Rathdrum insurance agent Steve Nagel is battling city hall and his weapon of choice is pigs. Nagel plans to retaliate against Rathdrum and the Kootenai County Commission for denying a request to rezone property he owns at the edge of town for commercial use by instead putting hundreds of pigs on the 12-acre parcel along Highway 53."

Sounds from here like a good argument in favor of the necessity of land use laws ...

Rebellion in the ranks

Not sure what it was exactly that prompted Idaoh Senator Larry Craig to push with such determination on revision of the Patroit Act, but he now has gotten as solid on this issue as on any he has undertaken.

The difference here being, he is charging - hard - against an administration of his own party, which he has loyally supported. (more…)

Relicensing speedup?

Effective today, a new procedure in federal dam relicensing. From the Federal Register:

As required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), the
Departments of Agriculture, the Interior, and Commerce are jointly
establishing procedures for a new category of expedited trial-type
hearings. The hearings will resolve disputed issues of material fact
with respect to conditions or prescriptions that one or more of the
Departments develop for inclusion in a hydropower license issued by the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the Federal Power
Act. The three Departments are also establishing procedures for the
consideration of alternative conditions and prescriptions submitted by
any party to a license proceeding, as provided in EPAct.

A little faster, to keep people on their toes.

Jobs up

The official stats out today show a positive picture for jobs - on the official unemployment front - regionwide.

Still, the improvement was spotty, and it still doesn't seem to do much for wage rates, which are at least as critical a factor. (more…)