Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Day: January 14, 2008”

A three-way

This is more or less what we were thinking of when we expressed some interest in the contest to replace Oregon Representative Tom Butler, whose eastern district is one of the most Republican in the state. Three candidates for his seat have surfaced, and they vector in from all over: Baker City, Burns and Ontario, each more than an hour's drive from the other. In good weather.

Oregon House District 60

Local Republicans sent along in nomination the three people who expressed interest: Cliff Bentz, a lawyer at Ontario; Tim Smith, a rancher and consultant at Burns; and Deon Strommer at Baker City, owner of area restaurants and some other businesses. One each from the three full counties in the district.

All three have filed with the state as candidates for the job, too.

You might expect that's pro forma, that after one of them is named to replace Butler for the rest of this term, the other two will fade away. We don't know that won't happen; but plenty of regional history suggests that one or both stay in contention for the race, to the May primary.

ALSO An indication of philosophical differentiation? From Oregon catalyst: "Taxpayer Association of Oregon has endorsed Tim Smith & Deon Strommer in the special election to replace retiring Rep. Tom Butler from Eastern Oregon. Both candidates are running on a strong pro-taxpayer platform. . . . candidate Tim Smith has been endorsed by Governor Victor Atiyeh, Kevin Mannix, Denny Jones and Ron Saxton. Deon Strommer has been endorsed by former Representative Tom Butler."


When last we visited the Idaho court case involving a group of Idaho Republicans who wanted to closed-registration for party primaries in the state, the case was tossed. The judge's reason was that the group of Republicans, led by former state Senator Rod Beck, lacked standing to sue on behalf of the party. That may be a debatable view - highly debatable, since majorities at central state Republican events have voted to support closed primaries - but it seems clear enough: The judge was saying that to launch the case, the party had to specifically act to press the issue.

Well, now it has. On Saturday, the party's governing unit, the central committee, passed this:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Idaho Republican Party is directed to present legislation to the 2008 Session of the Idaho Legislature within the first month of the legislative session. That legislation shall provide for the immediate and full implementation of the Closed Republican Party Primary Rule; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if the Idaho State Legislature and Governor of the State of Idaho fail to enact legislation into statute in the 2008 Legislative session that provides for the full and immediate implementation of the Closed Republican Party Primary Rule, then within 10 days of the close of the 2008 legislative session, the Idaho Republican Party shall institute litigation in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho against the Secretary of State of the State of Idaho and any other necessary parties. In that suit, the Idaho Republican Party shall demand the full and immediate implementation of the Closed Republican Party Primary Rule by the State of Idaho; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Idaho Republican Party shall pursue this litigation vigorously and without undue delay . . .

Hard to see how the party's formal intent could get much clearer than that. Clear enough that state Chair Kirk Sullivan, who is no fan of closed primaries, on Friday (even before the meeting) proposed a closed-primary measure, which was introduced. Beck, as it happens, blasted the measure, saying "Sullivan's bill forces the Idaho Democratic Party and other parties into compliance with party registration against their will by using the power of the Secretary of State. I believe the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings demonstrate that Sullivan's bill is clearly unconstitutional." (That's a debatable point too, since state law clearly can govern the actions of parties. Welcome to another lawsuit?)

This fight once somehow seemed a little fringey - something that seemed unlikely to happen, simply because so many legislators and so many Idahoans were opposed. If it ever was, it's certainly not fringey now. This is a big battle just starting to unroll.

A high enough mark

In rough terms, raising a million dollars for an Oregon Senate race pre-election year - if you're a challenger - is pretty good. Close to that, at $913,000, is where Democrat Jeff Merkley stands; it ought to be a solid enough mark to unleash funds from the national Democratic treasury.

Figuring out how solid a number that is involved pulling in various factors.

The Merkley campaign points out that "Merkley’s fundraising efforts represent the best two-quarter totals that a challenger for Senate has ever posted in Oregon," breaking the previous record by Democrat Bill Bradbury in 2002. Of course, Bradbury, who rised $2.1 million (and we should note entered the race much later than Merkley) still was heavily outspent by Republican incumbent Gordon Smith, who raised $7.7 million.

You could compare it to one of the other leading challenger Democrats in the region, Washington District 8's Darcy Burner, who raised $858,125 in 2007, and for just one congressional district. But she entered the race for a re-run against Representative Dave Reichert almost as soon as the 2006 polls closed; her numbers are very good but not wildly out of line for what you'd expect. Comparing to Merkley, who started raising money only in August, you get a sensse that both are pulling in money at a solid pace.

More real comparisons: Upcoming numbers for Steve Novick, Merkley's main Democratic opponent, and for Smith, who ask of the most recent available report (not an end of year) had raised about $6.3 million, and should add a mill or two to that with the new report. Any Democrat will need a big infusion of national money to compete with what Smith is likely to report over the next few days.

PULLING AWAY? Following up on the Merkley-Novick comparison: We hadn't spotted the new Novick finance numbers, but David Steves of the Eugene Register Guard did, and noted them on his blog. Novick has raised $541,000 total ($219,000 in the last quarter, compared to Merkley's $619,000 in that time). Has Novick's fundraising pace slackened just a bit? Looks it.

The Novick argument (in Steves' post) is that both campaigns are positioned to move past Bradbury's 2002 fundraising. But, as suggested in the main post, that's a false comparison: Campaigns have gotten more costly than they were in 2002; Bradbury's campaign was heavily out-raised and spent then (and he lost, remember); and Smith is positioned to substantially out-raise himself from his last run. None of which means the Democrats are outclassed this time. But Merkley's numbers are much closer (and seem on track) to what you need to leverage (and that is the word) a campaign fund that can compete solidly with Smith's.

Was there a reason Novick chose today to release his first television spot? (An amusing spot, with some of Novick's trademark wit in evidence, but too focused on what an unusual-but-committed candidate he is.)

AMENDED to include link to Merkley fundraising on that web site.