Police were called Saturday to maintain order outside of a Democratic rally in downtown Spokane because of a confrontation between Democratic and Republican supporters, Spokane Police spokesman Dick Cottam said.
Democratic candidates – including gubernatorial candidate Christine Gregoire, attorney general candidate Deborah Senn, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and 6th district state Senate candidate Laurie Dolan – spoke to a crowd estimated by police to be about 250 at the Spokane Intermodal Center, part of which the Democrats had rented for the event. The rally started around 9:30 a.m. and lasted a half hour, before some of the candidates boarded a train to begin a whistlestop campaign.
Seven Spokane Police patrol units showed up after yelling and pushing between Democrats and GOP supporters was reported, Cottam said. About 25 Republican protesters were at the event.
One woman was issued a citation for misdemeanor assault. Police did not say if the woman supported Republicans or Democrats.
Democrats told police that Republican supporters attempted to block driveways and doors to prevent their supporters from entering. Robin Ball, chairwoman of the Spokane County Republican Party, denied that charge and said that she heard from protesters that the problems ensued because Democrats tried to block them from the rally and from other public places where they could protest.
Ball said that the protest was not organized by the county GOP, but that the party and the George Nethercutt for Senate campaign forwarded an e-mail about the event to other Republican supporters.
“It was truly just an e-mail sent out to both of our e-mail lists,” Ball said.
Both Republican and Democratic officials downplayed the incident.
Dolan said she noticed some people yelling during her speech, but she didn’t pay much attention to them. She said the police were called by a Greyhound employee.
“There was a few hundred people there having a really good time and sort of ignoring the protesters,” Dolan said. “It’s unfortunate that that happened but it didn’t frankly seem to stop the good time that was being had by the people who were there.”