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Gingrich coming to Spokane

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will hold a campaign rally downtown Spokane on Thursday afternoon.

His Washington campaign coordinator said Gingrich will be at The Bing Theater at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. It was earlier described by Spokane County GOP officials as a town hall style meeting, but state campaign officials later called it a rally.

Gingrich is the third GOP presidential hopeful to make a stop in the Inland Northwest. Rick Santorum spoke in Coeur d'Alene last week and Ron Paul held a rally at the Spokane Convention Center on Friday.

Mitt Romney's son visited the Spokane Valley this afternoon.

Gingrich, despite being from Georgia, has noteworthy ties to Inland Northwest politics that he may or may not dwell on in his visit.

He engineered the 1994 Republican sweep that — among other things — took leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives away from Spokane when Republican George Nethercutt beat sitting House Speaker Tom Foley, a Democrat. Republicans, after capturing control of the House that year, chose Gingrich to replace Foley.

Washington holds its precinct caucuses on March 3. Idaho's caucuses are March 6.

Hear Paul on gay marriage, pot, Maine’s caucus, McMorris Rodgers and more

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Ron Paul takes questions from the press

After his rally Friday night, Paul took questions from the media, which was almost entirely from local outlets. (The NBC cameraman told me that he's the last member of the national press who still is following Paul regularly.)

Paul rally shows his support still strong in Spokane County

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Ron Paul takes questions from the press

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul may not have won a state primary yet, but he remains a favorite to win Spokane County.

A standing-room-only crowd of about 2,300 shouted their support for Paul during his 45-minute speech Friday evening at the Spokane Convention Center.

Paul is the second Republican presidential candidate to visit the Inland Northwest this week as Washington and Idaho prepare for their presidential caucuses early next month. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum spoke to about 600 supporters in Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday.

Paul, who was introduced by state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, started his speech pointing to his strong base of support. In 2008, Paul finished first in the caucuses in Spokane County, capturing 46 percent of the vote.

“Four years ago I was told that there was a brush fire started here for the cause of liberty,” he said. “It looks like it’s much bigger than a brush fire right now.”

Paul, a Texas congressman who ran for the GOP nomination four years ago and was the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee in 1988, criticized the Iraq War and recent government bailouts of economic institutions.

“The people who should have had the depression got the bailout,” he said. “The American people ended up owning this debt.”

He called for less foreign intervention, halting the war on drugs, the repeal of the Patriot Act, an end to federal income taxes and a return to the gold standard.

Romney to Boise crowd: ‘I am the fiscal conservative’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter introduced GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Romney's Boise campaign rally this afternoon. "Folks, this election is about your and my liberty," Otter said. "We will turn out for that Idaho caucus. … We will turn out for the man that has the executive experience, understands that we are a free market, not a socialist country, that has been there and done that."

Romney, who's come to Idaho to campaign for Otter in the past, told the crowd, "What a great state this is - you're lucky to live here." He recalled a summer he spent working on an Idaho ranch near King Hill when he was 15. "I learned so much about cultivating corn and spring corn and irrigating corn," he said. "I thought I'd never see the end of corn."

Romney said, "I've got a note here in my pocket that says remind the people there's a caucus on March 6th. I think you know that." To cheers, he said, "I need your vote, because I want to be president!" The crowd chanted, "Mitt, Mitt, Mitt."

"It's a remarkable country that we live in, and what breaks your heart is to see how many people (are) having tough times right now," said Romney, who criticized both President Obama and GOP rival Rick Santorum, who held a Boise campaign rally on Tuesday.

Among Romney's applause lines: "I think to create jobs it helps to have had a job" and "I am the fiscal conservative, I'll balance the budget, I'll get America back on track economically." Click below for a full report from AP reporter Kasie Hunt.

Where Condon and GOP-leaning city leaders stand on race for president

With the race for the Republican nomination for president heating up and candidate Ron Paul headed to Spokane, Spokane Mayor David Condon said he doesn't plan to endorse a candidate.

"I'm not going to get involved in national politics," he said.

Condon said he hasn't decided if he will participate in the March 3 Washington caucus.

Meanwhile, other Republican-leaning elected Spokane officials haven't solidified their presidential picks.

Council members Nancy McLaughlin and Mike Fagan said this week that they are trying to decide between Paul and Rick Santorum.

Councilman Mike Allen said he's leaning toward Mitt Romney, and Councilman Steve Salvatori said he's undecided.

Ron Paul announces Boise rally Saturday

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has announced a Boise campaign rally this Saturday at 12:30 at Century Link Arena, 223 S. Capitol Blvd. in downtown Boise. Paul spoke at a rally in Twin Falls earlier today, and will hold campaign rallies Friday at 4 p.m. in Moscow, at the UI student union ballroom, and at 7:30 p.m. at the Spokane Convention Center.

Meanwhile, rival candidate Mitt Romney, who has the endorsements of most of Idaho's top GOP elected officials, will hold a Boise campaign rally tomorrow at 1:30 at Guerdon Enterprises, 5556 S. Federal Way in Boise, after a high-dollar fundraiser at the Grove Hotel; and candidate Rick Santorum rallied crowds in Boise and Coeur d'Alene on Tuesday. All are seeking Idaho's 32 delegates in the GOP presidential contest, which will be awarded in statewide caucuses on March 6, Super Tuesday.

Santorum’s public land sale proposal taps long-divisive issue in Idaho

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum won applause at a campaign rally in Boise this week when he advocated transferring or selling off federal lands in the state, but the issue has been a loser for other politicians over the course of history, report Idaho Statesman reporters Dan Popkey and Rocky Barker today. Those include Gov. Butch Otter, who backed off and apologized after co-sponsoring a bill in Congress to sell off forest land to pay for Hurricane Katrina cleanup, and President Herbert Hoover, whose 1929 offer to transfer 190 million acres to the states, but not the minerals beneath, was rejected as westerners derided it as "skimmed milk" or "the lid without the bucket." You can read their full report here.

Santorum rallies Boise crowd

Rick Santorum's campaign rally in Boise drew an overflow crowd to the 1,300-seat Capital High School auditorium tonight. "The bigger the government is, the smaller you become," Santorum told the enthusiastic crowd. "It is a zero-sum game." Most of  his remarks were aimed at President Obama, though he also talked quite a bit about religion. Santorum, who represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. House from 1990 to 1995 and in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2006, was misidentified by a local news station as the former governor of Pennsylvania; he was defeated for re-election to the Senate by a pro-life Democrat in 2006.

His reception in Boise was highly enthusiastic; backers had to set up overflow space in the school gym. It followed a Coeur d'Alene rally that also overflowed. "There are more delegates here than in South Carolina and Iowa combined, almost as many as in the state of Florida," Santorum said to applause. "You can have a huge impact on March 6th." That's Super Tuesday, the date of Idaho's first GOP presidential caucus.  After Santorum's talk and Q-and-A with audience members, he said, "I will take pictures with anyone who puts it on Facebook." Click below for a report from the AP on Santorum's Boise stop and other recent events; you can read Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey's full report here.

Meanwhile, GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has scheduled a campaign stop for Thursday in Twin Falls, according to the Twin Falls Times-News. Paul reportedly may visit Boise over the weekend, while Mitt Romney has scheduled both a high-dollar fundraiser and a rally for Boise on Friday.

Santorum brings the 2012 race to the Inland Northwest


Rick Santorum became the first presidential candidate to visit the Inland Northwest, just as national polls shows him emerging as the Republican favorite.


In response to questions from the press, Santorum downplayed the polls, noting that he had de-emphasized the same polls in recent weeks when they showed him behind.


“We just have to earn it one state at a time,” he said, adding, however, that the boost “has helped us in fundraising.”


Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, spoke for about 35 minutes and answered audience questions for an hour more at the Hagadone Events Center in Coeur d'Alene. About 600 packed the room, and police turned away dozens of cars at the gate.


Addressing the crowd in jeans and his signature campaign sweater vest, Santorum focused on what he described as attacks on freedoms by big government and President Barack Obama's “hostility” toward religion. He compared the American revolution to the French revolution and said that the American war for independence proved lasting because it was rooted in a higher power, while the French revolution was more focused on “fraternity.”


The Constitution exists to “protect one thing and that's to protect the rights given to you by God,” he said. 


Santorum didn't focus on the economy and jobs until nearly 20 minutes into his appearance.


This election is about the economy and jobs, "but, ultimately, it is about the role of government in your lives,” he said.


He said he is the best Republican to take on Obama in the November election because of his position on health care. 


“If we don't win this election, Obamacare will be implemented,” he said. “If Obamacare is implemented, the America as I describe it to you will be no more.”

Sali considering another run for the Idaho House…

Former Idaho Congressman Bill Sali, who popped up at the Statehouse today proposing a specialty license plate bill to raise funds for his new nonprofit organization, the "American Heritage Foundation," says he's considering running for the state Legislature again. "I am looking at this open seat out here," Sali told Eye on Boise. "We have not made a final decision yet, but I'm looking at it."

Sali served 16 years in the Idaho House before serving one term in Congress; he lost to Democrat Walt Minnick in 2008. Since then, he said he's been "doing some consulting work dealing with kind of land development, economic development, and spending a little more time with family, those kinds of things, kind of keeping a low profile. I found that I had time to work on some things that were of interest to me. I have a couple of old classic Honda motorcycles, I have finally had the time to start working on those, that's been a great delight." Sali, 57, is an attorney but went on inactive status when he went to Congress in 2006; he said he's just filed his paperwork to return to active status as a lawyer.

Five candidates qualify for Idaho GOP presidential caucus ballot

The Idaho Republican Party has announced that five candidates have qualified for the ballot for its March 6 presidential caucus: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Buddy Roemer. Roemer is the former governor of Louisiana and served four terms in Congress in the 1980s as a Democrat. Click below for the Idaho GOP's full announcement about its caucus ballot.

Ex-Deputy Green Wants To Be Sheriff

A former Texas deputy turned criminal justice lawyer is running for Kootenai County sheriff. John Green, 52, is seeking the office's top spot as a Republican, aiming his campaign on finding solutions to ease jail crowding other than building a new facility, increasing deputy financial compensation as well as street presence as a crime deterrent, and supporting legislation to allow deputies more leeway on public intoxication calls. … Green has 10 years of law enforcement experience in Texas, with 300 arrests, most for felony violations, that he would bring to the post, he said, as well as 20 years of practicing law. He would pursue other avenues for jail space rather than building a new facility, such as using existing county buildings, possibly even tents, to house inmates if it proved to be effective/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (John Green Facebook photo)

Question: Is the use of other county building and even tents a reasonable option for housing Kootenai County prisoners?

Popkey: Otter raises corporate cash, uses part to pay himself back for loans

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter raised $124,941 for his re-election campaign from July to December, Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey reports today, and used $50,000 of it to pay himself back for loans he made to his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Popkey reports that most of Otter's fundraising came from corporate contributors who do business with the state or lobby state officials; you can read his full post here.

Why Reps. Hagedorn and Patrick are looking to run for the Senate…

Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, says he decided that he'll run for the Senate next year because the new redistricting plan left his new district with three House incumbents and an open Senate seat. "There's three of us in the same district now, and we all three talked about it and who would be best to do what and what everybody's desires were," Hagedorn said. The other two lawmakers in his new district are House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, who's in his seventh term, and first-term Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle.

Hagedorn, a third-term lawmaker and retired naval officer, said, "This just appeared to be where we could all contribute the most."

Rep. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, has made a similar decision, reports Twin Falls Times-News reporter Melissa Davlin on her Capitol Confidential blog here. Patrick landed in the new District 25, along with Reps. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, and Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls; that district initially appeared to take in Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, but Brackett said while his mailing address was in District 25, his actual residence is in the new District 23, which also includes Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home; that leaves an open Senate seat in District 25.

Paul, Romney, Santorum, Gingrich have filed for Idaho GOP’s March 6 caucus

Four GOP presidential candidates have filed for Idaho's March 6 Republican presidential caucus, the Idaho Republican Party reports: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. The party today issued a "final call" for others who want to participate, with Chairman Norm Semanko saying, “We welcome all Republican presidential candidates who are seriously campaigning to secure the Republican Party’s nomination in 2012 to visit our great state, to discuss issues important to Idahoans, and to campaign for Idaho’s 32 delegates to the Republican National Convention.” Click below for the Idaho GOP's full announcement.

Three longtime District 1 incumbents draw tea party challengers

A trio of tea party sympathizers is challenging three longtime GOP incumbents in North Idaho's legislative District 1, as Idaho gears up for its first-ever closed Republican primary this year. Pam Stout, president of the area's Tea Party Patriots group, is challenging Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, who's seeking a seventh term in the state House. She's made a splash with her tea party involvement in the past two years, appearing on the David Letterman show and being interviewed by the New York Times, though this is her first run for office.

Stout said she'd considered challenging eight-term Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, but when her friend and fellow tea party activist Danielle Ahrens wanted to run against Keough, "I said, 'If you want to run against Shawn, I'll run against George." While Ahrens is running against Keough, Donna Capurso, a real estate broker and Boundary County Republican Central Committee chair, is challenging Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake.

Candidate filing doesn't open for another five weeks, but all three challengers have filed initial paperwork with the Idaho Secretary of State to begin fundraising for their campaigns. Jim Weatherby, Boise State University political scientist emeritus, said Idaho could well see more such races around the state. "Ideology, I think, will be a major feature in a lot of races, given the closed primary," he said. "And that was really the purpose … to purify the party." You can read my full story here from Sunday's Spokesman-Review.

McLaughlin considering bid against Brown

The proposed new boundaries for Spokane's 3rd Legislative District could be helpful for a potential bid by Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin.

The proposed district (map here) still would strongly favor Democrats, but it also would add some Republican-leaning precincts.

McLaughlin said last week that she will decide in the next few months if she will challenge Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown. She said that she and her husband have ruled out a run for state House because she would have to focus too much on reelection efforts with only two-year terms.

Republicans have looked to McLaughlin to run for Legislature at least since 2009, when she won reelection resoundingly over neighborhood leader Karen Kearney. She captured 67 percent of the vote, in a district that voted for Barack Obama a year earlier. She also has become extremely interested in Legislative politics with her involvement in the Washington Association of Cities. (She is president of the group this year.)

McLaughlin has proven that she can win big in a council district that leans slightly Democratic. But can she win in a Legislative district that's the most Democratic in Eastern Washington?

McMorris Rodgers endorses Romney

The campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has won the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, Romney's campaign announced today.

McMorris Rodgers will serve as Romney's chairwoman in Washington, his campaign said in a news release.

Post Falls Man To Seek Sheriff Post

Republican Bob Foster, the former director of Hagadone Hospitality security and current code enforcement officer with the Coeur d'Alene police, has announced his candidacy for sheriff. Foster, of Post Falls, is a 37-year veteran of Law Enforcement having served 17 years as a chief of police (for Willits, Calif., and Humboldt State University/Eureka, Calif.). He holds a degree in public administration and is a FBI National Academy graduate. Foster has been recognized by citizens, youth and senior citizen groups, community organizations, school boards, administrators & educators, law enforcement professionals and government representatives for his commitment & contributions to the public’s safety, community values and professional standards in law enforcement. Foster is a fourth-generation Idahoan and served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He is a member of the American Legion. Resume here.

Question: Who do you plan to support among Major Ben Wolfinger of the sheriff's department, John Green of UCNI, or Foster?

Inslee says ‘new blood’ needed in Olympia

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Jay Inslee on gay marriage
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Jay Inslee on North Spokane freeway

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee appeared to criticize his fellow Democrats when introducing his campaign for governor to Spokane on Tuesday.

"Frankly, we need some new blood in Olympia," Inslee said in his speech. "Having not been in Olympia, I think I'm in pretty good shape to bring a little new blood to Olympia and stop some of the ossification that has happened there."

Democrats control the state House, state Senate and governor's office.

Besides highlighting his time outside Olympia, he also stressed his time outside the Puget Sound.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a governor who's lived outside the shadow of the Space Needle for once?” Inslee said.

Inslee, who lives on Bainbridge Island, lived near Yakima when he first served in Congress in the early 1990s. 

Memorial Day with Sarah Palin

“I love that smell of the emissions,” - Sarah Palin at yesterday’s Rolling Thunder rally. I wish I could keep myself from posting about this sideshow, I mean slideshow, but her bike adventure is a loud, obnoxious cry for attention. But it's also a trial for 2012.

At the Daily Dish, Shushannah Walshe reports on the meaning of Palin's bus tour:

According to a source with knowledge of Palin’s operation and thinking, keep a careful eye on how long the tour lasts, because it is intended as a way to test the presidential waters. If the road trip ends abruptly, it’s a sign she didn’t get the enthusiastic responses she believes she needs to launch a campaign. If the tour heads to regions outside of the Northeast like Iowa and South Carolina that, the source says, is a “big indicator” that Palin will pull the trigger.

Spanaway man running for president. Or SPI. Time will tell

OLYMPIA — If you can remember when March of the year before a presidential election was way too early to be talking about the field of candidates with designs on the White House, you're probably old enough to remember when television was mostly black and white and national television news was dominated by three networks with avuncular anchormen.

Now the horse race for the next presidential election starts the day after the votes are counted in the last election, fed by the need for 24-hour news networks and online news&views sites to generate content. It also keeps the publishing houses busy, because any candidate worth his or her salt must prove gravitas by writing a book that can be purchased by the pundits, who then discuss the book and its critics, the candidates response to the critics, the critics response to the criticisim of their critiques…

Spin Control is reluctant to get into discussion of the 2012 presidential race quite so soon, but did recently receive a press release from a Washington state man announcing his plans to run.

Don Hansler of Spanaway said he will be the nominee of the Common Sense Party, providing, of course that he can muster the people needed to constitute an independent third party of that name, hold a national convention in Tacoma next July and get on the ballot in 50 states.

So is Hansler, a retired Bellevue math and science teacher, delusional? No, although he allows  "I might sound like a kook to most people. My chances of getting elected president are not zero, but they're probably pretty close to zero."

So why send out a press release announcing the campaign? in part it's a way of generating interest in his book, "Rescuing America", in which he discusses 10 problems facing America and how to fix them. Aha, you say, another scheme to generate profits for the publishing houses.

Ask him about a platform or a way to solve any of the nation's problems, he replies: "Read my book." That may sound like a publishing ploy, but Hansler's book is self-published, and he's only asking $7.24 to cover printing and shipping, so no one's getting rich off this one.

"I'm my own campaign chairman and my own treasurer," Hansler said. But he's not a complete political novice. He ran for governor in the 2004 primary, and for superintendent of public instruction in the 2008 primary. Didn't make the cut either time.

If his third-party presidential candidacy doesn't gel by next summer, he's drop that plan and run again for SPI, which would be OK with him  because education issues are really his main thing.

For information about the book, go inside the blog.

McLaughlin won’t run for mayor or council president

Spokane Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin's landslide reelection victory in 2009 has made her name pop up as a possible candidate for just about any local office.

Last year, she was courted by Republicans to run for state Legislature. She declined.

She had left open the possibility of running for mayor against Mayor Verner. But McLaughlin said this week that she has decided not to run for mayor or city council president.

Republicans see her as a candidate who appeals to the conservative and moderate wings of the party. Not only that, she's easily carried a Democratic-leaning council district that voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

"I believe I would make a very good mayor or council president but my passion is for Spokane and other cities to be financially sustainable," McLaughlin wrote in an e-mail. "For this to happen there needs to be strong advocacy at the state level to help slow down/eliminate unfunded mandates and to continue work on cost containment strategies for our general fund."

Translation: The city needs help from state government to keep its expenses down.

McLaughlin is active in the leadership of the Association of Washington Cities and is in line to become the group's next president. This year, helped lobby the legislature on behalf of the association and Spokane.

Allen will challenge Rush for City Council

Former City Councilman Mike Allen announced last week that he is entering the race to challenge Richard Rush in hopes of once again representing south Spokane.

Allen, a former Eastern Washington University administrator,  was named to the council to replace Mary Verner after she was elected mayor in 2007. He lost the seat to Jon Snyder in 2009.

Allen and Rush had worked closely on some issues and were quite friendly when they both served on the council — often carpooling together to council meetings. But Rush endorsed Snyder late in the 2009 campaign, a decision Rush said wasn't personal and that Allen said at the time didn't bother him.

Still, it makes for an interesting race.

Allen, 43, was considered a moderate when he served on the council and was unsuccessful at earning party backing for his 2009 race. He said after he lost that it may not be possible to win a City Council race without the help of Republicans or Democrats. Last year, Allen was elected a Republican Party precinct committee officer.

Gregoire’s office says governor missed Spokane budget hearing to give speech at global health forum

NOTE: This is an updated version of an earlier post that had incomplete information. — Jonathan

Gov. Chris Gregoire missed Spokane’s public forum on the state budget on Thusday to speak at a forum on global health public policy, her office said Friday.

Gregoire spoke in Seattle at the forum, which was sponsored by the Center for Strategic and Interactive Studies, said Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren.

At last night’s state budget hearing in Spokane, Gregoire apologized for not being in attendence, saying she “had a long standing commitment that has kept me away.”

Shagren said the commitment she was referring to was her speech that included information about life science companies in Washington.

Later in the evening Gregoire was scheduled to have a campaign fundraiser at a Seattle restaurant, according to Seattlepi.com. That event was advertised on invitations as “an intimate dinner and discussion” with donors who were asked to pay $1,000 a plate, seattlepi.com reported.