A Republican surge of late votes gave a big boost to a Republican running for a central Spokane House seat.
After the first round of vote-counting in the state’s primary election on Tuesday, Democrat Marcus Riccelli was the clear winner, but three candidates, Republican Tim Benn and Democrats Jon Snyder and Bob Apple, were within fewer than 100 votes of each other vying for the right to advance to the November election.
In the second round of vote-counting on Wednesday, Benn took a more-than-400-vote lead over Snyder, and Apple fell from second to fourth.
Benn, a day care center owner, as a Republican running in a district that favors Democrats likely would face an uphill battle in a race against Riccelli. In the district’s race for Senate, for instance, Democrat Andy Billig has a nearly 16 percentage point lead over Nancy McLaughlin, who has won big in her nonpartisan races for Spokane City Council.
Before the new count, both Apple and Snyder expressed confidence that they would advance.
Former Spokane City Councilman Apple, a Democrat and former Republican, appeals to some Republicans and even won the endorsement of the Spokane Home Builders Association during the primary. He won most precincts in his former City Council district in Northeast Spokane.
Serving City Councilman Snyder holds similar views on the issues as Riccelli and is popular with the Democratic Party, but he trailed Riccelli as the party’s establishment fell in line behind Riccelli, who is Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s choice. Snyder garnered a substantial portion of his tally as the second choice behind Riccelli in some heavy-voting South Hill precincts.
Snyder said if he moves on against Riccelli, the gap between them in the primary won’t mean much in the general election. Turnout in the district could be twice as much in November, he said.
Unlike the District 3 race, the other local legislative race with more than two primary candidates came to a decisive conclusion early.
Democrat Dennis Dellwo, a former state representative, easily topped three Republicans to advance to the general election for the 6th Legislative District seat currently held by John Ahern. Dellwo, who received 42.6 percent of the vote as of Wednesday, will face Republican Jeff Holy, an attorney who almost doubled the tally of third-place finisher Ben Oakley, a former aide to state Rep. Kevin Parker.
Despite his first-place finish, Dellwo won’t have an easy path to victory in the district if Republicans unite behind Holy. More than half the voters in the 6th Legislative District voted for a GOP candidate in the race. But Dellwo said Wednesday that he likes his chances.
“The experts tell me that when you have three formidable contenders on the other side, as we did, they believe I would be able to pick up between 6 and 8 percent,” Dellwo said.
The fourth-place finisher, retired Cheney Public Schools Superintendent Larry Keller, said Wednesday that he will endorse Holy in the November election.
Keller said one disadvantage he faced was that Holy had name recognition from an earlier run for Spokane County Commission. He said he and Oakley also may have split the vote among moderate Republicans.