Voters pummel planning, ban new elk farms

 

In an election full of murky results, at least two decisions were definitive. The region's twin growth-control initiatives, Colorado's Amendment 24 and Arizona's Proposition 202 (HCN, 10/23/00: Colorado's growth amendment rouses voters) were both defeated by more than 2-1 margins. Proponents of the initiatives blame the loss on relentless - and occasionally inaccurate - media campaigns by the development industry (see story page 16). Voters in Coconino County, Ariz., also soundly defeated Proposition 400 (HCN, 10/23/00: Arizona's 202 takes aim at sprawl), a county referendum aimed at blocking a $330 million development on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

The growth-control initiatives were often compared, favorably and unfavorably, to Oregon's statewide land-use plan. After Nov. 7, even that 27-year-old plan is in jeopardy. Oregon voters approved Measure 7, requiring landowners to be compensated when laws and regulations reduce their property values (HCN, 9/25/00: On the trail). Oregon officials say the initiative could cost state and local governments almost $4 billion a year, and critics say the giant pricetag will cripple the land-use program.

Progressive planning fared better in Washington state. Voters emphatically rejected Initiative 745 (HCN, 11/6/00: On the trail), which would have forced the state legislature to spend 90 percent of its transportation money on roads.

Also in Washington, voters approved a ban on body gripping animal traps. A similar proposal was defeated in Oregon. In Arizona, voters sank Proposition 102, which would have required a two-thirds "supermajority" to pass any wildlife-related ballot initiatives (HCN, 10/23/00: On the trail).

Perhaps the most controversial wildlife measure in the region, Montana's Initiative 143, was narrowly approved by voters, 52 percent to 48 percent. The measure, championed by a sportsmen's group called MADCOW (Montanans Against the Domestication and Commercialization of Wildlife) takes aim at Montana's 92 game farms, preventing existing owners from handing over their licenses to other individuals or entities (HCN, 10/23/00: Montana hunters blast game farms). Opponents immediately announced a legal challenge.

Montana Democrats hoped for a good showing in this year's election: Mint farmer Brian Schweitzer mounted an attention-getting campaign against incumbent Republican Sen. Conrad Burns, and the governorship and the state's lone House seat were up for grabs (HCN, 10/23/00: Democrats see the light in Montana). But Burns grabbed a narrow victory, Republican Judy Martz will move into the governor's office, and Republican Dennis Rehberg will represent Montana in the House. Native American turnout was high throughout the state (HCN, 10/9/00: On the trail), and six Native Americans, all Democrats, are headed to the state legislature - the highest number in history.

Republicans also dominated in Idaho (HCN, 9/25/00: On the trail), where Republican Butch Otter was easily elected to Helen Chenoweth-Hage's former House seat. Only three lonely Democrats remain in the state Senate, the fewest number since 1917, and only nine hung on in the state House. "I don't see a silver lining," Boise State University scientist Jim Weatherby told The Idaho Statesman. "We're talking about survival here."

Utahns also continued their Republican tradition: Gov. Mike Leavitt was re-elected, as were Sen. Orrin Hatch, Rep. Jim Hansen, and Rep. Chris Cannon. But in House District 2, Democrat Jim Matheson coasted to victory against Republican Derek Smith (HCN, 10/9/00: On the trail). Matheson, the son of popular former governor Scott Matheson, barely acknowledged his party affiliation during the campaign.

In Colorado, voters chose George W. Bush in the presidential election, but they gave Democrats an advantage in the state Senate for the first time in 40 years. In U.S. House District 2, incumbent Democratic Rep. Mark Udall defeated his Republican challenger by more than 16 percent of the vote; Ron Forthofer, the Green Party candidate for the seat (HCN, 10/23/00: Nader shakes up Western enviros), collected slightly over 4 percent.

As of Nov. 13, Washington's Senate race - and the balance of party power in the Senate - was still undecided. Incumbent Republican Sen. Slade Gorton led Democrat Maria Cantwell by 5,353 votes, with about 250,000 votes still to be counted. If the margin doesn't increase significantly, a recount will be required.