Washington state lawmakers are more than a third of the way through their 105-day legislative session.

liz west / Flickr


A federal judge ruled against the City of Yakima in a voting rights challenge Tuesday, setting the stage for a new era in Central Washington politics. The ruling calls for an overhaul of Yakima’s City Council elections to better represent the will of Latino voters.

Judge Thomas Rice’s order followed his ruling last August that Yakima’s at-large City Council races suffocated the Latino vote. The city’s Latino population is over 40 percent and growing, yet no Latino has ever been elected to City Council.

Chris Phan / Flickr

  The Independent Party is on the cusp of becoming Oregon’s third major political party.

Under state law a major party must have at least 5 percent of the number of voters who were registered at the last general election. The Independent Party is less than 300 voters away from reaching that threshold.

If they reach that status by next summer, it would mean that taxpayers would fund Independent Party primaries in 2016, just like they already do for Democrats and Republicans.

The Independent Party was founded just eight years ago.

A.J. Balukoff / http://www.ajforidaho.com/

Balukoff began the hour-and-a-half back-and-forth by introducing himself as a successful businessman and longtime Boise school trustee. Otter touted his administration’s fiscal responsibility, and Bujak attempted to paint himself as an alternative candidate who would change the way Idaho government works.

By the end of the forum, the three had touched on Idaho’s economy, school funding, the state of its roads and bridges, a prison scandal, and more.

In less than two weeks, Americans will go to the polls to vote in the midterm elections. At least, some of them will — about 40% of eligible voters, if past elections are any indication. This year's races have already made stars — some rising, some falling — out of Americans hoping to represent their states and districts.

Some, like Kansas Senate hopeful Greg Orman and Georgia governor candidate Jason Carter, may pull off surprising victories. Others, like Wendy Davis in the Texas governor race have seen their once bright lights fade.

Mel Green / Flickr

Last month, a federal judge ruled that Yakima’s City Council elections stifle the voice of Latino voters in the city. But that verdict doesn’t apply to dozens of other places in Eastern Washington where Latinos are just as underrepresented in elected office.

In communities like Othello, leaders are grappling with broader problems of civic education and participation in local government.

It is early August. A black man is shot by a white policeman. And the effect on the community is of "a lit match in a tin of gasoline."

No, this is not Ferguson, Mo. This was Harlem in August 1943, a period that James Baldwin writes about in the essay that gives its title to his seminal collection, Notes of a Native Son.

The story begins with the death of Baldwin's father, a proud, severe preacher who viewed all white people with suspicion, even the kindly schoolteacher who encouraged his son's writings.

News becomes history in a second. That's one of the reasons history stays alive — people will always discuss the past as long as there's something to disagree about, and there's always something to disagree about. "A fog of crosscutting motives and narratives," writes Rick Perlstein, "a complexity that defies storybook simplicity: that is usually the way history happens." Beyond the names and dates, history never offers any easy answers. It doesn't even offer easy questions.

Tom Seyer / Wikicommons

California billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer plans to try to help Democrats win back the Washington state Senate. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins received that confirmation yesterday.  

Emilie Ritter-Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A judge ruled Tuesday that Barry Peterson is not the chairman of Idaho’s Republican Party and that there is no chair. Last month’s contentious state GOP convention ended without finishing any of its business including electing a new chair. Peterson maintained that meant he was still in charge. Now that the court has ruled otherwise Adam Cotterell looks at what comes next.

No Big Surprises On Signature Deadline Day

Jul 3, 2014
Garry Knight / Flickr

The deadline to turn in signatures to qualify initiative petitions in Oregon produced no big surprises Thursday. But Oregonians could still have a range of controversial topics to decide this fall.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

This is the season for summer concert lineups. But there’s another lineup coming this fall - the one on your ballot. Thursday is the deadline for initiative sponsors in Washington and Oregon to submit their petitions to qualify for the November election. Pot legalization and GMO-labeling are among the issues likely to make the ballot in Oregon. In Washington, it’s guns, money and class-size.

Idaho Republican Party

Members of Idaho’s Democratic Party gather this weekend in Moscow. It’s expected to be a much calmer event than the Republican convention the week before. That convention left Idaho Republicans still debating who the party chair is after their convention devolved in chaos. And they still don’t have a new platform.

Magnus Manske / Wikimedia

It’s a mid-term election year. Even so, some 300 candidates are vying for 162 local, state and federal positions in Washington state alone. So who are these would-be officeholders and what kind of troubles may they have had in the past? Formal background checks for candidates are not a part of the typical vetting process. But a former candidate wants to change that.

New Poll Has Mixed Results For Merkley

May 6, 2014
Medill DC / Wikimedia

A new public radio poll shows that incumbent U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley may be more vulnerable than previously thought. The survey commissioned by Oregon Public Broadcasting found that heading into this year's election, less than half of voters have a favorable opinion of the first-term Democrat.

Cacophany / Wikimedia

Republican strategists are eyeing state legislatures this year in hopes of taking more control of the legislative process. But political analysts don't expect major changes in northwest statehouses.



Ralph Nader has never been elected president, but his new book has a broad-based coalition of endorsements that range from Grover Norquist on the right to Robert Reich and Cornel West on the left, in which Mr. Nader finds in a partisan time the outlines of a new political force that crosses all party lines. His new book is "Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance To Dismantle The Corporate State." Ralph Nader joins us in our studios. Thanks so much for being with us.

RALPH NADER: Thank you very much, Scott.

Investigative journalist and author Matt Taibbi has long reported on American politics and business. With an old-school muckraker's nose for corruption, he examined the events leading up to the 2008 financial crisis in Griftopia. With Gonzo zeal, he described a two-party political system splintered into extreme factions in The Great Derangement.

And in his newest book, Taibbi sets out to explain what he thinks is a strange state of affairs:

In the 1990s an embattled President Clinton created a legal defense fund. Now, four-term Washington Lt. Gov. Brad Owen wants all state elected officials to have that option.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber says he's brokered a deal that will avoid a potentially divisive battle at the ballot box this fall.

A second U.S. Senator from the Northwest is expected to move into one of the most powerful positions in Congress.

Before Chris Matthews grilled politicians and their surrogates on his MSNBC show Hardball, he was a top aide to House Speaker Tip O'Neill, advising him on how to deal with the press. Now Matthews has written a new book drawing on those experiences, called Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked.

It's a look at how Speaker O'Neill and President Reagan managed to work together and reach compromise in spite of the fact that they disagreed not only on policy, but also on the role of government.

Nine men and one woman from Washington state have made Forbes magazine’s latest list of American billionaires. The group of ten had an oversized influence on Washington state politics last year. But so far this year, they’re mostly sitting on the sidelines.

White house budget officials say they will advise the president to veto a logging bill the House is discussing this week.

John Ryan

Governor Jay Inslee said on Tuesday he wants to call a special session of the state legislature this fall. But he stopped short of actually doing so.


Governor Jay Inslee was in Arlington, Washington Wednesday to celebrate the opening of a new cleantech facility that will employ 70 people.

John Ryan

Backers of a Washington state ballot initiative to require labels on genetically modified foods have raised four times more cash than their opponents. Both sides’ contributions have mostly come from outside Washington state.

Washington and Oregon have been given one year to change the way they evaluate teachers or risk losing millions in federal education funding.

Tom Banse

What do these things have in common: an Idaho gold mine, a proposed wind farm in central Washington, a new hotel in Portland and the replacement floating bridge across Lake Washington?... They're all investment vehicles for well-to-do families seeking U.S. green cards. Under U-S immigration law, wealthy foreigners can get a green card by investing at least half a million dollars to create at least 10 jobs here. In the Northwest, an increasingly diverse range of projects are competing for such foreign investment.


Washington state expects to adopt final rules for the structure governing legalized marijuana under I-502 by next week. So officials with the state’s Liquor Control Board are touring the state to get feedback before the rules take effect.