A group of business-backed political action committees has launched a new television attack ad against two candidates for Spokane City Council, marking the opening salvo in what could become the most expensive council races in city history.
Councilman Jon Snyder and candidate Candace Mumm, seeking separate seats in this fall’s general election, are targeted by a PAC called Jobs & Prosperity for Spokane, which received funds from three other PACs to help pay for $23,000 in television advertising against them. The ads began appearing on Spokane TV stations last week.
The campaign is being directed by former Spokane County Commissioner Kate McCaslin, a Republican, who said she assembled the money to create an even playing field with Snyder and Mumm, both of whom have raised more money than their opponents.
The McCaslin PAC filed required paperwork with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission on Oct. 2, and the ad buy was dated Wednesday.
As of Friday, Snyder had raised $57,000 in his race against former GOP state Rep. John Ahern, who had raised $20,800. They are running for the District 2 seat on the south side of Spokane.
Mumm, former president of the city Plan Commission, is leading her opponent Michael Cannon $73,000 to $48,000 in the District 3 race to replace term-limited Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin representing northwest Spokane.
The ad claims that Snyder and Mumm are “bought and paid for by special interests.”
The special interests identified in the ad are labor unions and the Spokane Tribe. The tribe is seeking to build a controversial casino in Airway Heights across U.S. Highway 2 from Fairchild Air Force Base. Opponents of the project say they are worried about civilian encroachment on the base.
Contributions for the ad came from the Inland Pacific Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors PAC; the Spokane Homebuilders Association PAC; and the Eastern Washington PAC.
McCaslin is president and CEO of the ABC Inland Pacific Chapter.
The Eastern Washington PAC is headed by Tyler Whitney, who is the campaign manager for Mayor David Condon. Condon is closely linked to Republicans after working as a staffer for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, one of the highest-ranking Republicans in Congress.
“There is no partisan litmus,” Whitney said of the independent spending.
Cannon lists Republican as his party preference on state public disclosure documents. Mumm, Snyder and Ahern all listed nonpartisan in the party affiliation check box, which is the standard disclosure for nonpartisan races. But Ahern served a decade in the state Legislature as a Republican, and Snyder unsuccessfully sought a legislative seat last year as a Democrat, while Mumm has been active in Democratic Party politics.
Mumm said the ads represent a partisan incursion into what is supposed to be a nonpartisan race.
“I’m very disappointed in these attack ads. It’s not what I stand for,” she said. “I’m not about mudslinging.”
Mumm called for the ads to be taken off the air.
Snyder said he is trying to take the high road in his campaign, keeping his focus on working families. “I support investing for the future,” he said. “The interests I need to protect are the citizens of Spokane.”
He said the use of independent money in a City Council race is new for Spokane.
Mumm has received numerous union contributions as well as $900 from the Spokane Tribe.
Snyder has received $500 from the Spokane Tribe and lists many union contributions as well.
The Spokane Homebuilders PAC currently lists its top contributors as Greenstone Corp., $2,000; Duane Alton, $1,000; and Davenport Hotel Inc., $1,000. The Inland Pacific ABC Wash. PAC lists its top contributors as Larry Larson, $5,000; Irving Zakheim, $5,000; Herbert Gould, $4,000; Don Herak, $1,000; and T.B. Tilford, $1,000.