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Cowan to challenge Baumgartner in 6th

The head of a local movie production company said he will challenge an incumbent senator in Spokane’s 6th Legislative District next year.

Democrat Rich Cowan, chief executive officer of North by Northwest, said Tuesday he will run against Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner, contending the incumbent’s views on some issues are too extreme for the district.

One of his main goals if elected, Cowan said, would be to find a way to complete the North Spokane Corridor, a roadway that has been discussed for more than a half century and under construction for more than a decade. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Dellwo confident; Keller endorses Holy

Unlike the close battle for a central Spokane House seat, the other local legislative race in Tuesday's primary with more than two candidates came to a decisive conclusion early.

Democrat Dennis Dellwo, a former state representative, easily topped three Republicans to advance general election. He'll 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 faces a significant challenge 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.

Parker aide, Ben Oakley, announces bid for Ahern’s House seat

A third Republican candidate has entered the race to replace state Rep. John Ahern.

Ben Oakley, the legislative aide for state Rep. Kevin Parker, filed paperwork earlier this week announcing his bid with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Oakley joins Republicans Larry Keller, the superintendent of the Cheney School District, and Spokane attorney Jeff Holy. Former state Rep. Dennis Dellwo, a Democrat, also is running. 

Ahern announced last month that he would not seek reelection for his 6th Legislative District seat.

Oakley, 29, worked for Parker's office for three years until he stepped down last week to run for the office.

Mapping the vote: 6th District House race


Republican challenger and former state Rep. John Ahern is comfortably ahead of incumbent Democrat in the 6th District House race. As this computer mapping of their vote totals shows, Ahern has large vote margins on the edges of the City of Spokane and beyond, while Driscoll’s strength is inside the city limits, particularly on the lower South Hill.

State has map for legislative campaign funds


Click on the image to get to the PDC’s interactive map on  legislative campaign spending.

6th Lege Dist: Swing district or spendy district?

Click on the image to get to the PDC’s interactive map on  legislative campaign spending.

A Spokane legislative district is tops in the state for money raised by candidates, and near the top for spending that money before the August primary.

The 6th Legislative District – which curves around central Spokane’s core from the Whitworth and 5 Mile arreas to the South Hill – is often a pricey political battleground. Its last three state Senate races have been the three most expensive Senate races in state history, with the 2008 contest between Democrat Chris Marr and Republican Sen. Brad Benson at the very top of the list with nearly $818,000 spent for a seat that pays just over $42,000 per year.

This year is likely to follow that trend …click to go inside the blog and read the rest of this story or leave a comment.

Shenanigans in the 6th? Numbers suggest no

Shelly O’Quinn’s legislative race, like nearly every political race worth a darn, may be leaving some supporters with hard feelings, nagging questions and what ifs.

Wednesday’s ballot count showed O’Quinn has no real hope of moving out of third place, which is no doubt vexing to supporters who believed she was a candidate with great potential to be a rising GOP star. While they try to figure out why she lost, some apparently  have come up with a theory that it was Democratic perfidity that helped do her in.

The theory, recounted by one supporter, is that Democrats were afraid that freshman incumbent John Driscoll would  have a much harder time in the general against O’Quinn than John Ahern. There’s some logic to that speculation:

Driscoll beat Ahern, a well-entrenched encumbent, two years ago, so history is on their side.

Ahern outpolled O’Quinn, but she outspent him.

The Gallatin Group, a regional public affairs organization that has people who follow politics the way others follow Gonzaga basketball, opined as such in an election eve epistle titled “Pondering Politics in the Inland Northwest”: Here’s our prediction. In an Ahern vs. Driscoll match-up, Driscoll wins. However, the Gallatin office is split in our prediction that if O’Quinn manages a win tomorrow the seat will return back to its Republican roots with an O’Quinn victory in November against Driscoll.

So wily Democrats could try to sway the outcome of the primary by voting for Ahern now, then switching to Driscoll in November. Or so the speculation goes.

Speculation is one thing. Facts are something else.

One, it assumes Democrats are organized enough to hatch the plan, and execute it by having willing Driscoll voters cast ballots for Ahern. Democrats have shown themselves to be anything but organized this year. Were they that organized, they’d have fielded candidates in the 4th, and recruited a congressional hopeful who could win at least one county in the 5th District.

B, it ignores the fact that Washington voters love to split tickets on their own.

Lastly, if there was some kind of plot that could overcome the ticket-splitting tendencies of the electorate, it would show up in the vote totals when comparing the votes for the House race with those in the 6th District Senate race. Democrat Sen. Chris Marr pulled down about 2,000 more votes than fellow Democrat Driscoll, while Ahern and Quinn combined for about 4,000 more votes than Republican Senate hopeful Mike Baumgartner. Considering that Marr and Driscoll  have similar voting histories that would attract the same partisan support, if something fishy is going on, a pattern would likely emerge. Ahern would consistently do much better in precincts that Marr won handily as Democrats crossed over to vote for him to help Driscoll down the road; O’Quinn would consistenty run stronger in precincts where Baumgartner ran far ahead of Marr.

As the maps below show, that ain’t what happened. At least not consistently.

 


 

Setting aside the fact that there were much bigger swings in the Marr-Baumgartner race, which is common in a two-person contest, what happened was this: Ahern did very well in some of the precincts where Baumgartner did very well, but O’Quinn also ran strong in some strong Baumgartner precincts. And both had successes and failures in precincts that Marr won handily.

What the maps show more conclusively is that Ahern won because he won more of those same Republican-leaning precincts that Baumgartner won, and by bigger margins. It’s a pretty simple equation. Win more votes in more places, and you win the election.

Will Parker get a Democratic opponent?

Less than three days left in candidate filing week, state Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, still has no opponent.

Sixth Legislative District seats are highly competitive, but Democrats remain without a challenger to Parker, who unseated Rep. Don Barlow, D-Spokane, in 2008.

Democratic officials haven’t offered any names of potential candidates in the race. Spokane County Democratic Party Chairwoman Amy Biviano said Wednesday that the party still hopes to “have a candidate” to challenge Parker.

“Until two days from now, we’ll just have to wait and see,” Biviano said. 

Parker has a sizeable campaign chest waiting for a potential opponent. He’s raised $124,000, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

 

More on Apple’s endorsement of Ahern

John Ahern’s campaign released this form Wednesday after Bob Apple denied endorsing Ahern. Both Ahern and his campaign manager, Josh Kerns, said they witnessed Apple signing it last year at the county fair.

The top of the form is quite clear: “I endorse John Ahern for State Representative in the 6th District, position 2. By signing below, I give permission to Citizens for Ahern to use my name in campaign materials for the 2010 election. Your contact information will not be shared with anyone outside the campaign. Thank you for your support!”

The campaign blocked other names and Apple’s contact information before releasing the document.

So far, Apple’s opponents in the race are Spokane Indians Baseball Club President Andy Billig and social worker Louise Chadez.

In an interview this morning, Billig said Apple’s endorsement is “surprising,” but that he had no further comment about the issue.

2010 preview: GOP primary in the 6th?

We pause in the middle of this year’s election season to bring you a preview of next year’s.

There’s could be an interesting Republican primary in Spokane’s 6th Legislative District.

Former Rep. John Ahern has talked about wanting a rematch ever since he lost to Democratic challenger John Driscoll last November by 74 votes. He’s even raised a little money, despite the fact that the election is out beyond most people’s horizon, and picked up backing from some county GOP leaders.

But Wednesday, Shelly Maak O’Quinn, a fresh face in the Republican ranks, said she’d run for the seat also. 

O’Quinn, who has worked for the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, Habitat for Humanity Spokane Neighborhood Action Plan and the World Affairs Council, can count on support from at least one GOP “name.”  She’s the executive director for the Nethercutt Foundation, and has the support of her boss, former Rep. George Nethercutt.

This could get interesting.