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Primary for 6th will be debateless

It’s one of the most contested primaries in Eastern Washington, but voters won’t get a chance to see a debate of the candidates for the state House seat representing the 6th Legislative District before the Aug. 17 primary.

The one debate that was scheduled for incumbent Democrat John Driscoll and Republicans Shelly O’Quinn and John Ahern was cancelled after Driscoll and Ahern decided not to participate. Unlike her opponents, O’Quinn has refused to participate in video interviews on campaign issues with The Spokesman-Review.

O’Quinn sent a news release criticizing Driscoll and Ahern for not appearing at The League of Women Voters of the Spokane Area forum on July13.

“It is unfortunate that the voters will not have the opportunity to see the candidates next to one another talking about the issues,” she said in her news release.

Ahern said he decided not to show up after he got word that Driscoll wasn’t going to be there. He said he questioned if O’Quinn would participate because she earlier declined to participate the newspaper’s video interviews.

He said he attended a campaign event instead.

“There was uncertainty whether she would show up or not,” Ahern said. “I decided I got better things to do.”

Ann Murphy, president of the local chapter of the League of Women Voters, said Ahern had originally said he would appear but later cancelled. Driscoll never accepted an invitation, she said.

League rules don’t allow debates to be held with one candidate, so the forum for the 6th District House seat was cancelled, she said.

Driscoll said his campaign decided last fall not to participate in any forum or debate until after the primary “when my final opponent has been chosen.”

“After we know the results of the primary, I am more than happy to debate my opponent anytime and anywhere,” Driscoll said. “And I’m actually looking forward to it.”

When 6th District candidates were interviewed by The Spokesman-Review in recent weeks, O’Quinn declined to be videotaped and would not allow her interview to be recorded unless the newspaper agreed not to post the recording on the Internet.

O’Quinn said the League’s forum, which is replayed on City Cable 5, would have reached many more voters than videos on

“Our campaign has a rule that we don’t do video unless we own it,” O’Quinn said.

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