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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Spokane County Democratic Party

Suit filed to keep Hamilton off ballot

Spokane City Council candidate Mark Hamilton’s residency problems continue.

Two voters in Spokane's northeast council district filed a lawsuit today claiming that Hamilton's name should not be allowed on the ballot because he was not a resident of the city or district for a full year previous to filing to run last week.

The Spokane City Charter requires that candidates be resident at least a year before officials file to place their names on the ballot county auditor.

How excited are voters for the primary?

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell talks with Daryl Romeyn, a candidate for Spokane County commissioner, at the county Democratic Party's fund-raiser in Riverfront Park.

Every couple of weeks, some national pundit or cable news talking head ruminates about the “enthusiasm gap” for a certain set of voters.

Sometimes the gap is diagnosed among Democrats, who were oh so excited to vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but now, not so much. Other times the gap is prognosticated among Republicans who backed a different candidate in the primaries and now the best they can say about Mitt Romney is “at least he's better than Obama.”

If there is an enthusiasm gap in Spokane, it may be for a primary that takes place the first full week in August. This observation comes not from polling or deep analysis of ballot returns (cursory analysis, however, says they are nothing to brag about) but from a brief stop at the Spokane County Democrats' salmon bake and Obama birthday celebration Saturday night.

Normally, if you put together a warm clear summer night on the north bank of the Spokane River, offered baked salmon and  liquid refreshments whose containers must reveal their alcoholic content, you could draw a decent crowd of Democrats. Throw in the chance to see the party's U.S. Senate candidate, the wife of its gubernatorial candidate and a passel of other local office seekers, and offer cupcakes to mark the president turning 51, you could count on what used to be called a rip-snorter of a time. 

Saturday's turnout was, in the view of several longtime Ds there, disappointing. Not abysmal, but not outstanding, either. Sen. Maria Cantwell and other candidates dutifully worked the crowd. Supporters of one or another of the Democrats in that crowded 3rd Legislative District state rep race eyed each other warily, and asked those on the sidelines “Who do you think will win?”

(My answer at various times: 1. I live 300 miles away; I don't know. 2. It may come down to turnout. 3. It's possible the two Republicans could split the GOP vote in such a way that two Democrats will make it into the general. 4. The wild card could be the Tea Party vote. 5. The wild card could be the Christian Conservative vote. 6.  It could depend the independent vote in Hillyard, or the lower South Hill, or the northwest part of the district. 7. Ask me who will win the state treasurer's race. There's only one candidate in that one. I actually believe any combination of 2 through 6 could happen, but 1 and 7 are the only things I'm sure of.)

The real problem for the salmon bake may be the problem for the primary. It's summertime, and the living is easy, as “George Gershwin once astutely observed. Easy living does not often galvanize people to political action. (Editor's note: Earlier version of this post wrongly attributed the lyricist of the song until an alert reader pointed out our mistake.)

 A weekend political event must compete with a trip to the lake place or the favorite campsite or that promised trip to grandma's, or even a backyard barbecue. Yes, the ballots were mailed out some two weeks ago, but for voters who've been gone on some multi-week peregrination and are just returning from the mountains or parks or beaches or Disneyland or wherever, they are tucked in among the bills, the offers of new credit cards, back-to-school ads and outdated magazines.

Some uncast primary votes could easily be lost in the summer shuffle. If that's the case,  pundits may spend much time dissecting the upcoming returns for an enthusiasm gap. 

Rush concedes race to Allen, calls off hand recount

Spokane City Councilman Richard Rush said this afternoon that he has decided against paying for a hand recount in his race against Mike Allen.

Rush said after further consideration of the results of the machiine recount, as well as the hand recount that was completed in the 4th Legislative District Senate race, it was highly unlikely that a hand recount would change the outcome.

The hand recount had been scheduled to start on Tuesday.

The council race for the city's south district was recounted by machine because the gap between Allen and Rush was only 88 votes and less than half a percentage point. After ballots were run through the counting machines again, Allen's lead increased to 91. In the hand recount in the state Senate race that was paid for by losing candidate Jeff Baxter, results barely changed.

 

“That was valuable information that I hadn't been able to thoroughly process,” Rush said.

Rush had been concerned about the number of voters in the district who opted not to make a choice in the contest and requested the hand recount, which candidates can request at their expense. State law requires races to recounted by hand at government request only when they are within a quarter of a percentage point.

Donors gave more than $6,000 to the Spokane County Democratic Party to cover the cost of the Rush-Allen hand recount.

“I don't think the manual recount would be a wise use of their money,” Rush said.

He said he left a message for Allen this afternoon to congratulate him.

Asked what his plans are, Rush said: “I plan to think about my plans.”

“It's a relief to put this behind me and think about the future.”

Spokane Democrats write check for Rush-Allen recount

Spokane City Councilman Richard Rush will get a hand recount afterall.

The incumbent councilman who trails former Councilman Mike Allen by 88 votes submitted a check this afternoon to the Spokane County Election's Office for $6,240 to pay for a full manual count of ballots in his race for the south district. He said the amount was provided by the Spokane County Democratic Party.

A recount is required because Allen's margin of victory is less than a half percentage point. The margin is larger than a quarter a percentage point — the level that requires recounting done by hand.

The Spokane County Canvassing Board earlier this week voted to do a hand recount in the race on the advice of Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton, who said it would be better to recount by hand to allow the county to run a thorough test of new vote-counting equipment with real ballots. Soon after, however, Jeff Baxter, who lost his state Senate seat representing Spokane Valley, decided to pay $1,774 for a partial hand recount of ballots in his race, despite losing by more than 3,000 votes.

Dalton, a Democrat, said it no longer made sense for the county to pay extra for a hand recount in the Rush-Allen race since one already would be done for 10 precincts in the 4th Legislative District. Dalton and the two other members of the Canvassing Board voted Thursday to change the Allen-Rush recount to a machine count.

Rush has questioned if Baxter, a Republican, was motivated to pay for a hand recount in order to prevent his race from being recounted by hand. Baxter has declined to provide a motivation.

“He's 10 points behind,” Rush said. “How can he make that up?”

The computer recount of the Rush-Allen race will move forward, along with the recount of the Baxter race against Mike Padden, next week. Dalton said the Rush-Allen race will be recounted by hand starting Dec. 12.

Dalton said the request marks the first time the county has recounted the same set of ballots twice since the 2004 governor's race.


Documents:

Democratic chairman says Verner took ‘high road,’ as former Dem chairman takes to airwaves for Condon

 

Not surprisingly, the campaign of David Condon is taking full advantage of the endorsement he got from former Spokane County Democratic Chairman Tom Keefe. Keefe is featured in the Condon TV ad above and is the first endorsement listed on a Condon mailer that arrived at homes this week.

Condon, the former district director for Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, has been working to distance himself from the Republican label, though McMorris Rodgers recently headlined a fundraiser for his campaign.

Meanwhile, Verner's campaign has a released a statement from the current chairman of the Spokane County Democratic Party, David Smith. He addresses the Otto Zehm matter, which is the issue that Keefe said pursuaded him to back Condon.

“Mary Verner was not mayor when Otto Zehm died. She was sworn into office a full eighteen months after his death. She could have chosen to augment her political capital by joining in the public condemnation of Officer Thompson,” Smith said. ” Instead, despite her professed grief for the family of Otto Zehm, she chose to accept the political risk inherent in standing up for Officer Thompson’s right to a fair trial. Doing so took courage.  Standing up for the constitution always does.”

Here is Smith's full statement responding to Keefe's endorsement:

Democratic Party backs Verner, Stuckart, Rush and Jones

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner has won the seal of approval from the Spokane County Democratic Party for a new term.

The party's endorsement committee voted Monday to endorse Verner for mayor, Ben Stuckart for City Council president, Joy Jones for the City Council seat representing Northwest Spokane and incumbent Richard Rush for the seat representing South Spokane, said David Smith, chairman of the party.

Smith said Verner and Rush also won the party's support in 2007.

“She's even more popular among Democrats than she was four years ago,” Smith said.

None of the picks are that surprising, though the decision to endorse Stuckart is somewhat of a snub to City Councilman Steve Corker, a former chairman of the party who is vying for council president.

Smith said Stuckart was the only council president candidate who requested an endorsement. That opened the door for the party to pick Stuckart because the party only backs candidates who request party support, he said. If multiple Democrats had requested an endorsement in the same race, the party would have waited to make a choice.

Spokane County Republican Party Chairman Matthew Pederson said last week that the Republican Party won't make any endorsements, at least prior to the August primary. He added that no city candidates have officially requested GOP backing.

Verner's main challenger, David Condon, has sought to distance himself from the party with large “nonpartisan” labels on his campaign signs. Condon is the former district director for Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

“It is a nonpartisan office,” Condon said this week. “The platform they have wouldn't be a platform I would further at the city level.”

Where they’ll be on election night

Not sure if this says more about Spokane’s two major party organizations than anything we could, but, both have plans for gatherings on primary election night.

Spokane County Republicans will be at the New Life Assembly of God Church, 10920 East Sprague, starting about 6:30 p.m.

Spokane County Democrats will be at Toad Hall, their frequent gathering spot which by day goes by Hamilton Studios, 1427 W. Dean.

Not all candidates for either party will be at those locations, however.

Republicans Shelly O’Quinn, Steve Salvatori and Chris Bugbee will be at the Plechner Building, 608 W 2nd Ave.

Democrats Louise Chadez, Sadie Charlene Cooney and Daryl Romeyn will be at Working Class Heroes Bar and Grill, 1914 N. Monroe St.

 

Billig gets Democratic nod over Apple, Chadez

Spokane County Democratic Party officials voted this week to endorse Andy Billig for the Statehouse seat now held by Democratic Rep. Alex Wood.

Billig, president of the Spokane Indians Baseball Blub, announced his candidacy last fall, before Woods announced his retirement.

Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple and social worker Louise Chadez also are running as Democrats on the August primary ballot. No Republicans have announced a run for the Third Legislative District seat, which represents central Spokane and is Eastern Washington’s most reliable Democratic district.

Billig’s endorsement doesn’t come as much of a surprise. He already had won backing from many prominent Spokane Democrats, including three of Apple’s colleagues on City Council: Richard Rush, Jon Snyder and Amber Waldref.

The county party has typically not weighed in on candidates until after primaries, but county Chair Amy Biviano said state party officials decided that the party should select candidates in response to the top-two primary system.

GOP memo ponders Staab’s political leanings

The debate over Municipal Court Judge Tracy Staab’s residency isn’t going away.

A memo circulated with local GOP leaders indicates that Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, who is active in the party, has questioned the party’s decision to oppose Staab’s candidacy.

Party leaders formally opposed Staab’s attempt to retain her judgeship in the November election because she lives outside the city. Spokane Municipal Court judges rule only on cases from within city limits, but state law allows the judges to live outside the borders – as long as they live in the same county.

Spokane Dem chief steps down

Ed King, chairman of the Spokane County Democratic Party, is stepping down for health reasons and the party’s first vice president, Amy Biviano, is moving into the top spot on an interim basis with hopes of taking it on permanently.

Biviano said Friday she expects a smooth transition, considering she and King worked together on everything after they got their respective jobs in January. The county party will have a special meeting in July to elect a new chair, and Biviano will run in that race.

She may run unopposed, if recent history is any indicator.

King is stepping down because  he’s suffering from shingles, she said.

Not to play doctor or anything, but that’s a disease that can be greatly exacerbated by stress….

Guess who’s not coming to dinner

As different as Spokane County’s two major political parties are, they have one thing in common: They always need more money.

Because of that, until just a few years ago they had something else in common: Once a year, they’d rent a hotel ballroom, throw a big fund-raising soiree named for historical figures, invite a “name” speaker, charge several times what the rubber chicken dinner cost to be put on the plate and try to raise some operating scratch.

Republicans in Spokane, like GOP members almost everywhere, have a Lincoln Day Dinner, sometime close to Feb. 12.

Spokane Democrats used to have the rough equivalent, the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, named for two presidents traditionally identified with the genesis of their party. Republicans try to reclaim Thomas Jefferson from time to time, pointing out that his party was the Democratic-Republicans, but never get anywhere with it.

A few years ago, in a fit of what some members called out-reach and others called political correctness run amok, Spokane Democrats changed the name to the Legacy Dinner. Whatever their party-founding credentials, some Democratic leaders felt it inappropriate to hold a dinner named for a couple of white guys who owned slaves, or, in Jackson’s case, wreaked havoc on Native Americans. (Any native Brits upset that Jackson kicked the crap out of their ancestors in New Orleans in 1814 apparently kept quiet.)

So it was until 2009. Recently, the Legacy Dinner also was scrapped.

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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.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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