Midday Scan: Oregon election; marriage vote; understanding Amazon?

Residents in Oregon's 1st Congressional District made their choice known in a special election. Olympia is about to see a special moment in gay rights' history.

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State Sen. Ed Murray

Residents in Oregon's 1st Congressional District made their choice known in a special election. Olympia is about to see a special moment in gay rights' history.

Tuesday's election-night victor, overshadowed by Florida's Romney-Gingrich mud fest, was Oregon's Suzanne Bonamici. As the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes writes, Bonamici easily defeated Republican Rob Cornilles to fill the 1st congressional-district seat vacated by the idiosyncratic (euphemism intended), scandal-plagued David Wu. 

"A former state legislator, Bonamici becomes the only woman in the seven-member Oregon congressional delegation. Her campaign expects that she will be sworn in within the next week," Mapes writes. "Besides becoming accustomed to Congress, Bonamici also has to get ready for another election. To earn a full two-year term starting next year, she needs to run in the May primary and November general elections."   

It's a stretch to embroider political clues in the outcome, although the campaign's intensity probably foreshadows a summer and fall tsunami of negative ads. In this morning's Crosscut, Floyd McKay offers a trenchant overview. "It would be difficult to extrapolate any meaning from Tuesday’s results in terms of other 2012 elections. Barack Obama won Oregon handily in 2008 and carried the First; he remains popular in Oregon and the state has no Republicans in statewide office," McKay writes.

Olympia will be hit by a low temperature of 29 degrees tonight. What better time to escape the chill, snare a seat in the state-senate gallery, and witness history unfold? Sometime during the day or evening, the state senate will debate, vote, and (barring a political earthquake) pass Sen. Ed Murray's marriage-equality bill. How is it possible? Breaking stereotypes may be one reason that Murray's effort gained momentum this year, the Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly observes. This included pro-marriage testimony from a retired Coast guard admiral along with an Iraq war veteran. 

"Initial efforts often failed. New routes needed to be found. Lessons were learned, especially in how to get people gradually acclimatized to change.  Patience was essential, and lesser victories spurred advocates toward an ultimate goal," Connelly writes.  

Can someone — anyone — please explain the Amazon business model? They hammer down neighborhood bookstores with bargain prices yet don't appear to make a profit. To compound the indignity, Amazon introduces the Kindle and ushers in the e-reader revolution, much to the chagrin of the Northwest's (authentic) bibliophiles. Make no mistake: You can't display pixels on a bookshelf (give them time, and Amazon will likely find a solution to empty-bookshelf syndrome). Does Wall Street ever take notice?       

"Shoppers spent more money online this holiday season than ever before, and yet, Amazon —the world’s largest Internet retailer — failed to meet Wall Street’s sales expectations with its latest financial results," the AP reports. "In a surprise, the company’s revenue fell nearly $1 billion short of Wall Street’s expectations, even as it grew 35 percent from a year earlier. The quarter included Amazon’s headline-grabbing November launch of the Kindle Fire, its answer to Apple’s iPad. Its net income also fell sharply and its guidance for the current quarter was disappointing."

As the Alaskan Way Viaduct goes, so goes the Gates Foundation. Sort of. In the spirit of Milepost Thirty-One, the museum and information center celebrating the Viaduct and deep-bore tunnel project, the Gates Foundation is opening its Visitors' Center on Saturday. Unfortunately, there won't be confidential briefings on how to land dinero for yourself.

"Walk through the $15 million Visitor Center opening Saturday at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters and you'll get a sense of how the world's largest private philanthropic organization — with some 960 employees and $33.5 billion in endowed assets — helps humanitarian efforts at home and abroad," the Seattle Times' Jack Broom writes. "The exhibit's creators hope you'll also get something more personal: a chance to examine your own interests and priorities and imagine that the next great change on the planet might start with you."  

Lastly, does a rare ribbon seal signal a climate-change reversal? No, but it should be swimming in the Gulf of Alaska not Steamboat Slough near Everett. True, Everett is the Athens of Puget Sound, so maybe he was just looking for culture? The Herald's Bill Sheets has the story.  

Link Summary

Oregonian, "Suzanne Bonamici wins special election for Oregon's 1st Congressional District"

Seattlepi.com, "Same-sex marriage in Washington: A step-by-step struggle nears its last step"

Washington Post, "Amazon.com reports lower 4th-quarter net income, stock falls sharply after hours" 

Seattle Times, "Gates Foundation wants you: Visitor Center opens Saturday"

The Herald, "Arctic ribbon seal has a surprise checkup"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson