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Spin Control

Posts tagged: AFL-CIO

Waite questions labor’s backing of Riccelli

Candidates haven’t even officially signed up to run for office, but the contest for a state House seat representing central Spokane is heating up.

The race for the seat held by state Rep. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, already has attracted four candidates, in large part because Billig decided last week that he wouldn’t run for reelection as planned so that he could run for the state Senate seat held by Lisa Brown, who announced last week that she would not run for a new term.

The AFL-CIO’s Washington State Labor Council endorsed on Saturday Democrat Marcus Riccelli, Brown’s senior policy analyst, for Billig’s 3rd Legislative District seat without seeking the positions of other candidates.

Democratic candidate John Waite, who owns Merlyn’s Comics and Games, said the labor endorsement indicates that “elite, upper party leaders” are working to control the outcome.

“That’s absolutely, positively not my vision for how our democratic elections process should work,” Waite said.

The other two candidates who have announced their intentions to run are Republican Tim Benn and Democrat Jon Snyder, a Spokane City councilman.

Riccelli, who attended the labor council’s weekend convention where union leaders selected candidates they support in the August primary, said he’s “extremely proud” of the support he earned from the labor council.

Labor coalition declines to back Verner or Condon

The race for Spokane mayor is getting more interesting.

The Spokane Regional Labor Council has released the list of candidates it supports for the August primary and Spokane Mayor Mary Verner isn't on the list.

That's a bit of a surprise given her recent support for a labor-backed change to contracting rules giving the city wider lattitude to pass over low bidders on contracts when a low bidder has had recent problems following labor, environmental or other laws. (Verner, however, surprised some union leaders when she said she would push to amend the rules.)

The council, which is the regional organization for the AFL-CIO, also declined to back any of Verner's opponents, including her main challenger, David Condon. That's not a surprise, given Condon's promise to be a tougher negotiator with unions and his calls for pay freezes at City Hall.

Verner's relationship with unions at City Hall has been mixed and grew strained as she worked to win contract concessions in the last two budget cycles. Most the city's bargaining groups eventually agreed to contracts or contract changes that allowed them to avoid layoffs.

Unions play a large role in city politics, just as the business and development community do. The decision means the main local labor group won't be working for a Spokane mayoral candidate, at least through the primary, an outcome that likely benefits Condon — especially since he already enjoys a big fund-raising advantage.

Beth Thew, secretary-treasurer of the council, said she wouldn't be surprised if the council reconsiders the race after the primary. Candidates were interviewed on June 28 and a group made up of representatives of local AFL-CIO-affiliated unions voted on the endorsements. To win backing, a candidate needed two-thirds support from the group, Thew said.

“If there are any questions that need clarification or anything like that, we will wait to hold off on our endorsements,” she said. “We want to make sure that when we move forward with our endorsement that everybody is comfortable and can stand behind it.”

To see the list of candidates endorsed by the labor council for the August primary, continue reading this post.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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