Rep. Norm Dicks, the dean of the Washington Congressional delegation with the political brawn to match his Husky-linebacker presence, has decided not to run for re-election (the News Tribune has the breaking story.) In a prepared statement, Dicks said, "After 18 terms representing the people of the 6th Congressional District of Washington, preceded by eight years on the Staff of Senator Warren G. Magnuson, Suzie and I have made the decision to change gears and enjoy life at a different pace."
Dicks has been an institution, pulling the weight of a Northwest delegation that over the decades has ebbed and flowed in influence. In an era of political cynicism, Dicks's leadership and bring-home-the-bacon MO is often disregarded. His legacy of public service — visible from a revitalized Tacoma to the removal of the Elwha dams on the Olympic Peninsula — will transcend the niggling currents. A replacement for Norm, after this unexpected hollow in the political landscape? It sounds like a cliché, but it's true: Norm cannot be replaced.
Are Mormons an animating force in Washington politics? (it's not a contradiction to link "animate" with "Mormon;" Lutherans? Less so.) Observers generally associate the power of the Mormon vote with Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. As Alex Stonehill notes in the outstanding UW Election Eye 2012 blog series, Washington has the 6th largest Mormon population in the United States. Presupposing Mormons mobilize en masse for Washington's Republican caucuses on Saturday, they might tilt the results in Romney's favor (with an emphasis on "might.")
Stonehill writes, "This time around, Romney is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. This is partly because he’s very popular with members of his church: according to a recent Pew Research poll 86% have a favorable impression of him — compared to just 22% who view fellow Mormon, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, favorably. And some of the prejudices against Mormons held by Americans may be on the decline, at least in presidential politics."
Ten days ago, the conventional wisdom had Rick Santorum favored in Washington, an assumption confirmed by Public Policy Polling. Now Romney is edging ahead (the poll and links are in Stonehill's article.) Could an alliance of centrist Republicans and "animated" Mormons beat back the party's Evangelical base here?
Legislating, like buying a used car, becomes more tantalizing as you start to close the deal. In the Washington state Senate, that tantalizing has begun, with what appeared to be a sure-thing Democratic budget evolving into a less-than-sure thing.
"Senate budget chair Ed Murray, D-Seattle, says he has 24 Democratic votes for his budget re-balancing plan. He needs 25 to pass it," Austin Jenkins writes in the Washington Ledge. "Sitting in the Senate wings this morning, Murray raised the prospect of a Republican budget instead passing off the Senate floor with the support of some conservative 'Roadkill Caucus' Democrats."
Jenkins's analysis underscores the possibility of a Republican budget passing the majority-Democratic senate. Is Ed Murray simply being strategic, sounding the alarm to mobilize pressure on the Road Killers?
Michael Upchurch offers a thoughtful tribute to longtime Pioneer Square bookseller David Ishii, who died at age 76. Ishii was an idiosyncratic force, the consummate Northwest character with a compelling personal narrative. Who recalls Ishii's early years, for example?
"He first became a noted figure in Seattle in the 1930s, under the toughest of circumstances. His mother died giving birth to him in 1935, and his father, battling cancer at the time, arranged for David, the youngest of seven siblings, to be cared for as a 'community child' at Swedish Hospital for several years," Upchurch writes in the Seattle Times.
Lastly, is there a useful template for building an arena? The MinnPost reports that a deal has been reached to build the new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis. It features a state investment that may be tough to emulate in Washington. "Under the $975 million stadium plan, the Vikings would pay at least 50 percent of the construction and operating expenses. The plan calls for the state to kick in $398 million, the city of Minneapolis would contribute $150 million, and the Vikings or other private sources would pay $427 million. The stadium would be owned by a new stadium authority, appointed by the governor and the city of Minneapolis," Marlys Harris writes.
The great unspoken? How much the Star Tribune, the city's major newspaper and a loud advocate of a stadium, could potentially earn from the land deal.
The News Tribune, "Congressman Norm Dicks to retire"
The Washington Ledge, "Palace Intrigue over Senate budget and 'reform' bills"
Seattle Times, "Longtime bookseller David Ishii was quite a story himself"