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Apple says he’ll compete for Wood’s seat

The field of candidates is growing in the race to replace retiring Democratic state Rep. Alex Wood.

Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple confirmed this week that he will compete for Wood’s seat representing the 3rd Legislative District, the most reliably Democratic district in eastern Washington.

Wood stepping down

Alex Wood said he will retire from the Legislature at the end of next year, creating a possible free-for-all among Democrats in central Spokane’s 3rd District.

Wood told the Warren G. Magnuson Democratic Club at lunch today that the upcoming session (sessions, perhaps if they can’t figure out the budget dilemma) will be his last. He’s been in the House of Representatives since January 1997, after more than 20 years as a radio broadcaster.

He never faced a serious Republican challenge in his succeeding elections, but then, it’s one of the state’s most reliably Democratic districts. Open seats in the 3rd can set off a stampede in the primary.

Wood’s announcement made final what he’s been hinting at since the 2008 election. Already in the race is Andy Billig, president and part-owner of the Spokane Indians baseball club.

Billig to run for 3rd Dist. House seat

Andy Billig, the president of the Spokane Indians baseball, wants to play in a different league. He’s running for the state Legislature in central Spokane’s 3rd District.

As ballots were being cast and counted this week for the 2009 election, Billig filed papers with the state Public Disclosure Commission to run for the state House of Representatives seat currently held by seven-term incumbent Alex Wood. Both are Democrats.

To read more, go inside the blog

McLaughlin movin’ on up?

The showing of Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin — the City Council’s most conservative member — in a district that voted for President Obama has prompted speculation that she may run as a Republican for state Rep. Alex Wood’s seat next year in Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District. That’s eastern Washington’s most solidly Democratic district.

McLaughlin won all 43 precincts in her council district race in the August primary, a feat she repeated in Tuesday’s general election.

Speaking from her campaign party Tuesday night, McLaughlin said she will not rule out a run for the Legislature, but added: “At this point, I have no intention of running next year.”

She added that her husband isn’t sold on the idea of her running for an office that would require a campaign every two years.

Gregoire’s budget plan: “the nightmare before Christmas” for the social safety net?

In Friday morning’s paper:

Before unveiling her budget plan Thursday, Gov. Chris Gregoire glanced around the crowded room.

“Before we begin,” she said, “I’d like to ask all of you to remove your shoes and take them outside. Particularly boots.”

That was the first and last joke of the somber 45-minute presentation, as Gregoire laid out a no-new-taxes proposal for deep state budget cuts to close an unprecedented $5.7 billion budget shortfall over the next two years.

“I hate it,” Gregoire said of her budget plan. “Nothing went untouched.”

Among the proposed cuts:

-halting nearly $700 million in planned cost-of-living raises for state workers and teachers for two years,

-cutting the Basic Health Plan, a state health insurance program for the working poor, by 42 percent,

-laying off more than 2,400 state workers,

-at least a 12 percent across-the-board budget cut at the state’s four-year colleges,

-a 6 percent cut for community colleges,

-cutting community mental health and chemical dependency services by $53 million,

-doing away with health care and small monthly checks for more than 20,000 people deemed unemployable, often due to mental health problems. At least 2,000 of those people are in Spokane.

-and cutting money for new affordable housing in half.

The depth of the cuts stunned social service advocates, labor leaders and others.

“Some of these programs really are the most extreme form of safety net,” said Nick Federici, a lobbyist for human services groups. “To us, this really is the nightmare before Christmas.”