Your Weekend Reader for Oct. 15-16

by | Oct 15, 2022 | 2022 Elections, Weekend Reader | 0 comments

First up this weekend: The deadline to register in the Nov. 8 election is this Tuesday: If you’re not registered by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, you can’t vote in what has become a compelling midterm election, with a tight governor’s race, a handful of somewhat close congressional contests and a variety of ballot issues that surprisingly have flown a little bit under the radar. It’s easy to register in Oregon; in fact, you can register online by clicking on this link.

Speaking of voting: I don’t always like to plug my own work in the Weekend Reader, but I do want to call your attention to a story about voting in Oregon that I wrote this past week for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. The story takes a long look about how Oregon, to its credit, has removed barriers to the franchise — including a vote-by-mail system that election officials tell me has increased voter turnout and led to safe and secure elections. The story offers a shoutout to former Linn County Clerk Del Riley, a key figure in the development of mail voting in Oregon. You also will learn why the envelope in which you return your ballot has a hole in it. Ballots start getting mailed out on Wednesday.

Here’s an update from the Oregon Capital Chronicle on the governor’s race as it enters its final three weeks: It may be that Republican Christine Drazan has opened up a slight lead over Democrat Tina Kotek, while Betsy Johnson, the unaffiliated candidate, trails — but all that depends on which poll you believe. One thing is for sure: This already is the most expensive governor’s race in Oregon history, with more than $50 million raised as of last week. The previous record was about $37.8 million raised in the 2018 campaign between Kate Brown and Knute Buehler. To put this in perspective, it would be as if New York Yankee Aaron Judge had hit his 62nd home run in early August instead of October.

The Oregon governor’s race also has attracted attention from The New York Times, which posted a new story about the campaign on Saturday. The story includes a rare interview with Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who has contributed $3.75 million to Johnson but recently sent $1 million to Drazan’s campaign. Knight told the Times that he’s never spoken with Drazan but would do whatever he could to stop Kotek. He called himself an “anti-Tina person,” adding that he believes state government has lurched too far to the left. (The story is available only to Times subscribers, but I can “gift” you a link; just post a comment, and I’ll send you the link.)

I suspect the governor’s race has stolen some of the spotlight that otherwise would have fallen on Measure 114, the gun-control initiative on the November ballot, which has garnered some national attention. The measure would require a permit to purchase a gun and ban the sale and transfer of gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian/OregonLive has a thoroughly reported story on the measure.

As Election Day nears, newspapers face this perennial question: Should they write endorsement editorials? I always was of two minds on that question — increasingly, I didn’t see much point in writing endorsements of candidates, especially on the national and state level. But I did think it was often important to write about ballot issues, both state and local — in many cases, those issues, which tend to get limited news coverage, are among the most important items on the ballot. A new story from Harvard’s Nieman Lab examines the subject and finds that many journalists believe these endorsements increasingly are a liability.

You might have noticed the Gazette-Times story this week about the $50 million donation to Oregon State University to help build a $200 million supercomputer center at the university. It pains me (a bit) to say this, but Mike Rogaway of The Oregonian/OregonLive has a better story about this, complete with an interview with Jensen Huang, the CEO and founder of semiconductor giant Nvidia, who made the donation. Huang and his wife, Lori, met as OSU engineering students. The Jen-Hsun and Lori Huang Collaborative Innovation Complex is scheduled to open in 2025. (And Rogaway also has a fascinating Q-and-A with Huang.)

If you’re looking for an update on that “Greater Idaho” movement, which essentially would transfer big chunks of (mostly rural and conservative) eastern and southern Oregon into Idaho, you might want to check out Sunday’s episode of “CBS Sunday Morning.” One of the featured segments on “A Nation Divided,” a special episode of the long-running news show, will focus on the Greater Idaho effort. Ted Koppel will anchor the special. Kristi Turnquist at The Oregonian/OregonLive has other details about the show.

I keep procrastinating about making an appointment to get this year’s flu shot. Here’s Lynne Terry at the Oregon Capital Chronicle to tell me why putting this off is a particularly bad idea this year. I’m not a complete slacker, though: I have received the most recent COVID booster, and you should do the same.

Speaking of COVID and the flu and whatever airborne nasties might be heading our way, work is underway to design the next generation of masks — more effective and, hopefully, more comfortable. (Why can’t anyone make an N95 mask that doesn’t brutalize my ears?) The Atlantic’s Jacob Stern has an update on what you might be wearing during the next pandemic. (The story is available only to Atlantic subscribers.)

Finally this week: The excellent Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane, who died this week at 72, is best-known to generations of moviegoers as Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies. He was also well-known for his role in the TV series “Cracker,” and made an indelible impression as a former KGB agent turned Russian mafia kingpin in the James Bond films “GoldenEye” and “The World is Not Enough.” (The sequence in “GoldenEye” that introduces the character also features Minnie Driver, in an unbilled cameo.) Shirley Li of The Atlantic offers an appreciation for Coltrane’s on-the-money work in the Potter movies. (The story is available only to Atlantic subscribers.)

I’ll see you next week, if I don’t see you first in the vaccination line. In the meantime, be sure you’re registered to vote.

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