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Know the West

The Northwest gets theatrical


Democratic candidates in the rural Northwest who want to moderate logging, mining and ranching usually don't get too far. But recent miscues by some of their opponents could change the usual dynamic.

Take, for example, Rep. Wes Cooley, R-Ore., who is best known for his bill to allow jet boats to blast through Hells Canyon, and whose office boasts a mock Hamburger Helper box labeled "spotted owl helper." Given these antics, environmentalists watched with glee when close scrutiny of the 1994 Oregon Voters Pamphlet revealed Cooley to be a liar. It claims that he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Southern California; actually he was a member of a smaller honor society at El Camino Community College. It also says that he served in the Army Special Forces in Korea, though his ex-wife Beverly Charboneau says he spent the war in Fort Bragg, N.C. "I certainly would have known if he would have shipped out," Charboneau told the Bend Bulletin.

Democratic front-runner Mike Dugan hopes to cash in on Cooley's blunders. The 10-year district attorney for Deschutes County is about as oriented toward change as a candidate can be in the rural district that covers most of Oregon: He is socially conservative, but talks of bringing tourism to his resource-dependent district.

In conservative Idaho, Democrats will need to campaign hard to break the Republican monopoly on Idaho's four congressional spots. Boise lawyer Dan Williams may have an advantage over the other Democratic hopefuls - Walt Minnick, who is running against Sen. Larry Craig and John Seidel, who opposes Rep. Michael Crapo. Williams' opponent, private-property champion Republican Rep. Helen Chenoweth, seems to be having some problems with her finances. Although she denied earlier charges that she funneled campaign money to her private coffers, a new finance disclosure statement shows that her campaign illegally paid her consulting firm $4,600 after the company folded.

Chenoweth's Republican critics had looked to Nampa anesthesiologist William Levinger to defeat the freshman congresswoman in the May 28 primary. But those hopes faded April 17, after Levinger apparently went crazy during a Boise television interview. He told the reporter he was running for Congress because he could not swim to Hawaii. Levinger also brought a toy elephant and wads of money to the studio, offering a reporter $5,000 to kiss him on camera. When he stripped to his underwear, police handcuffed him and took him to the hospital.