Independent candidate Chris Anderson dropped out of the race for Spokane County commissioner Thursday, saying it would help defeat the front-runner, whom he labeled a Pat Mummey clone.
It was another weird twist to an already bizarre campaign.
Acknowledging he could not win, Anderson called a radio talk show and told Republican Martin Burnette he was quitting to give Burnette a better chance at beating Democrat John Roskelley.
Anderson said later that Roskelley was too much like Mummey, just another tax-and-spend Democrat who advocates big government as society’s solution.
Mummey chose last year not to seek a third term as a county commissioner, then lost the coroner’s race.
“I feel strongly enough about not wanting the Democratic candidate in office because of his close ties to Pat Mummey,” said Anderson, who will keep his seat on the Spokane City Council for two more years.
“I don’t believe that Pat Mummey was good for the county. I believe that Mr. Roskelley is receiving a lot of his philosophical ideas from Pat Mummey, and she is heavily influencing his campaign.
“In looking at the numbers, it didn’t appear that Martin Burnette or I could take enough of the votes to ensure a win in the race,” he said. “For the sake of all of the voters in the county, I thought it best for everyone to drop out.”
While Anderson’s departure could bolster Burnette’s long shot, it also could confuse voters.
Anderson’s name will remain on the Nov. 7 ballot unless he gets a court order to have it removed - a requirement of a relatively new and untested state law.
Court orders can be issued only for serious circumstances, such as the candidate moving away or dying, said Gary McIntosh, state elections director.
“I have no plans of moving away and I hope there are no plans for the other,” Anderson laughed.
He met with Superior Court Judge Robert Austin late Thursday and said Austin is waiting for instructions from the secretary of state’s office.
When asked his reaction Thursday night, Roskelley said only “no comment.”
Mummey said, “I think the real reason Chris Anderson is dropping out is because he knows he can’t win. Defeat is hard to take.”
While agreeing to that, the 41-year-old Anderson also said he is honoring the wishes of constituents who want him to stay on the Spokane City Council.
Burnette, 43, was surprised but grateful of Anderson’s withdrawal and promise to campaign for him.
Burnette appeared on KGA Radio as Anderson called in with his stunning and “difficult” decision.
Then Burnette got another call from another well-wisher. Supporter Phil Harris, who chairs the County Commission, said, “I want to tell Martin, when he wins the election, you can’t worry about being beat up by anybody. Pray on it and do what you think is right.”
Anderson, often the lone voice of dissent on the City Council, casts himself in a different role by withdrawing from the race. A Burnette win would make it a Republican sweep on the County Commission. Longtime Democrat Steve Hasson converted to the GOP earlier this year.
“It’s a little bit bothersome to me,” Anderson admitted of the Republican block. But he said it’s better than a Roskelley win.
Burnette, the leading Republican in the Sept. 19 primary, finished third overall in the six-man field. Anderson was second.
Combined, Burnette and Anderson got 39 percent of the vote to Roskelley’s 48 percent.
At stake is a $56,000-a-year job now held by Democrat George Marlton, who was appointed to the District 1 seat in June to replace Commissioner Skip Chilberg.
Chilberg left for a better job.
Marlton finished last in the primary after a courthouse scandal in which he unleashed a string of profanities and scatological references, feigned masturbation and said an aide offered him oral sex if he performed well during the taping of a campaign commercial.
Burnette said Anderson’s departure will help voters distinguish him from Roskelley, whom he called “very strong on land-use planning and environmental issues.”
Burnette said while he also is an environmentalist, he is a more balanced candidate because of his business career as a financial planner who supports a strong economy and private property rights.
Roskelley, 46, is a world-class mountain climber who writes books and magazine articles about his experiences.
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