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Newcomer battles familiar faces in 6th

Thu., July 22, 2010

Two years ago John Driscoll beat four-term incumbent state Rep. John Ahern by only 72 votes.

This year, the two face off again in the August primary, along with political newcomer Shelly O’Quinn in a three-way primary that has been one of the most contentious for local Republicans.

The top two candidates in the Aug. 17 primary will move to the November election to battle it out for a two-year-term. The job pays about $42,000 a year and comes with health benefits.

As the lone Democrat, Driscoll has the easiest path to the general election, leaving a heated battle between Ahern and O’Quinn for Republican support.

Ahern won the endorsement of the official Spokane County Republican Party, while O’Quinn received the nod of a new startup GOP group, the Republicans of Spokane County.

O’Quinn has raised about $38,000 – more than twice the amount of Ahern. Driscoll has more than $80,000 so far.

The 6th District is one of the most competitive, with candidates spending more than most others statewide to win the seat.

All three candidates rule out tax increases to deal with projected budget shortfalls. Unlike most in his party, Driscoll voted against temporary tax increases, such as the soda and bottled water tax, that were approved this year by the Legislature

Of the three, Ahern has the most conservative views on social issues. He opposes gay marriage and the state’s domestic partner benefit law. Driscoll and O’Quinn support domestic partner benefits, but oppose gay marriage.

Ahern said his eight years in the Legislature and his more than two decades running a business makes him the best candidate. Driscoll says his time in the House and working in the nonprofit sector, business and medical fields will help in essential issues, such as bringing more medical education to Spokane. O’Quinn says her work in business, nonprofits and social services in and out of Spokane gives her a broad understanding that will best serve the public.

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