Tuesday’s two Spokane City Council primary races yielded one landslide and one battle too close to call.
Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin easily topped a list of five challengers for her seat representing northwest Spokane, winning 56 percent of the vote. Counting was not complete Tuesday night, but McLaughlin likely will face Karen Kearney, a community volunteer, in the November election.
On the city’s south side, Jon Snyder, publisher of Out There Monthly, had a small lead over incumbent Mike Allen in the first tally Tuesday. The candidate who comes in first after counting is finished next week won’t win much more than bragging rights. Both will move on to the primary.
“It looks like it’s a bit of a horse race,” Allen, a former Eastern Washington University administrator, said Tuesday night.
After counting Tuesday, Snyder led Allen by 46 votes.
“We’re happy to have the most votes this evening, and we’re excited about going on to the general election,” Snyder said.
Allen also faced a challenge from third-place finisher Kristina Sabestinas, the deputy district director for the Spokane office of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and former City Councilman Steve Eugster, who finished fourth.
Sabestinas said Tuesday night she would wait for more counting before deciding to concede. As the campaign heated up, Sabestinas gave birth to her son, Jonathan, on July 29.
“I was actually back out (campaigning) a few days after I had the baby,” she said.
Snyder, who won the endorsement from the local Democratic Party, has outpaced Allen in campaign fundraising almost 3-to-1.
In the northwest district, Kearney, a former bank manager, said she won’t be intimidated by McLaughlin’s tally. Kearney appeared to have enough votes to beat John Waite and move on to the general election.
“I’ll continue working hard to get the issues out there,” she said from her campaign party at Working Class Heroes Bar and Grill.
McLaughlin said she was humbled by the results.
“I am just so honored and overwhelmed that the voters would give me such high marks in a primary,” McLaughlin said from her campaign gathering at Round Table Pizza.
McLaughlin has raised more than $30,000 for her campaign – more than three times as much as Kearney. She has received strong financial support from business and development sources.
Kearney and McLaughlin have strong ties to the local GOP, but Kearney distanced herself from the Republican label in the primary and won strong backing from unions.
Waite, who owns Merlin’s, a downtown comic book, game and science-fiction store, tried to position himself as the fiscally responsible, progressive choice for disaffected Democrats. His low-budget campaign was behind Kearney’s by about 3 percentage points after Tuesday’s count.
The five-way race in southeastern Washington’s 9th Legislative District has three candidates knotted near the top, with the top two shifting as counties reported their results.
At the close of counting Tuesday night, Republican Susan Fagan, of Pullman, a former U.S. Senate staffer and public affairs director for Schweitzer Laboratories, was in first place with just less than 29 percent of the vote.
Republican Pat Hailey, of Mesa, the widow of former Rep. Steve Hailey, was less than 600 votes behind Fagan. Democrat Glen Stockwell, of Ritzville, a one-time Republican legislative candidate and former city councilman, was just 75 votes behind her.
Palouse’s Darin Watkins and Art Swannack, of Lamont, finished far back in the pack and won’t make it to the general election.
Although the state House seat is partisan, the state’s top two primary system sends the two candidates with the most votes in the primary on to the general election. That means both candidates on the November ballot could be Republicans.