Spin Control

David Condon is no Jim West

David Condon opened his campaign declaring that Mary Verner was no David Rodgers (the last mayor to win a second term).

On Tuesday night, Condon offered some reasons for hope for his campaign, comparing his run to Jim West's 2003 bid for mayor.

Condon said the gap between him and Verner likely was attributable to voter turnout in primaries that often favors incumbents.

"Just a few years ago, when Jim West ran against the incumbent, he got 31 percent (of the vote) and went on to win," he said.

It's hard to fault Condon for offering conflicting analyses when just confronted with the gulf he has less than three months to close.

But there are flaws in Condon's comparison.

Spokane primary voters have not been favorable to incumbent mayors, at least in the last two mayoral primaries. In fact, Verner last night became the first incumbent Spokane mayor in the strong-mayor era to a majority of the primary vote. John Powers came in third, thus losing his reelection bid in the primary in 2003. Dennis Hession had enough support to advance to the general election in the 2007 primary, but he barely came in first place, with 34 percent of the vote.

Condon is correct that Jim West took 31 percent of the primary vote in 2003. The big difference was that in that crowded field, 31 percent was enough for first place. Condon won 32 percent of last night's vote, but Verner won 61 percent.

To reach the 50 percent mark in November, Condon not only needs the votes cast for the three candidates who lost, Mike Noder, Barbara Lampert and Robert Kroboth. He needs to change the minds of many who supported Verner. That is a task that's much more difficult than what West faced in 2003.

So as far as his run for mayor is concerned, David Condon is no Jim West.

Note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Hession's 2007 primary finish.

Here is the 2003 mayoral primary breakdown:

Jim West, state senator, 31 percent

Tom Grant, TV journalist, 24 percent

John Powers, incumbent mayor, 20 percent

Steve Corker, city councilman, 13 percent

Sheri Barnard, former mayor, 12 percent




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Jonathan Brunt
Jonathan Brunt is an assistant city editor.

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