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Longtime Dem backs Condon, blasts Verner over Zehm

Former Democratic County Chairman and one-time congressional candidate Tom Keefe said today he is reaching outside his normal partisan boundaries to endorse David Condon in the mayor's race.

Officially, municipal races in Spokane are non-partisan. But sometimes the county organization or prominent party members endorse candidates who are politically well aligned. When that happens, it's sometimes considered news, but rarely is it NEWS.

But this is not one of those cases. Instead, it's an instance of a longtime Democrat endorsing a known Republican. Keefe is a former congressional aide whose service goes all the way back to Warren G. Magnuson; he ran for Congress against Republican Rep. George Nethercutt in 2000.

Condon is the former district manager to Nethercutt's successor, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and a GOP campaigner before becoming a candidate.

The reason for the cross-party endorsement? The Otto Zehm case...

... in which a Spokane man was beaten, shocked with a Taser and hogtied by police after being incorrectly accused of robbing an ATM, and later died. The case is the subject of federal criminal and civil complaints and has hung over City Hall since before Verner's election in 2007.
"I believe the current administration of Mayor Mary Verner has failed to carry out its obligation to the citizens of Spokane to assure that the administration of justice, and the actions of those charged with its administration, are open and accountable," Keefe wrote in a statement..."Although Otto Zehm’s indefensible homicide did not occur on Mayor Verner’s watch, much of the ensuing cover-up, deceit and obstruction of justice did....I like Mary Verner personally, but feel she is the wrong person to carry out the long overdue task of restoring credibility to the Spokane Police Department.
Federal charges against Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson are set to go to trial next week. A federal judge today ordered the trial moved to Yakima. Read more about that decision here.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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