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State Dems circulate petition for Rushing to resign

The state Democratic Party is targeting Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing with an online petition drive demanding he resign for comments about the president and first lady that “embarrass the entire state.”

State Party Chairman Jaxon Ravens sent out an e-mail Friday afternoon with a “can you believe this?” salutation that accuses Rushing of making racist, sexist and homophobic comments online, including the recently publicized comments about Barack and Michelle Obama. On Facebook, Rushing compared the president to a monkey and Michelle Obama to a gorilla.

Rushing later took down the comments, which he described as banter between friends, said he made a mistake and insisted he wasn’t racist.

The Airway Heights City Council, on which he sits, voted 5-1 to ask him to resign. Rushing, who cast the one “no” vote, refused and said resigning would be like admitting he was a racist. But he did deactivate his account with Facebook, which he called a tool of the devil.

“Mayor Rushing’s hateful rhetoric has no place in Washington or anywhere. Add your name today to demand Mayor Rushing resign now!” says the email from Ravens, which links to a petition calling for him to resign.

Contacted Friday afternoon, Rushing hung up before a reporter could ask his reaction to the Democrats’ petition drive. His office is non-partisan, like most municipal elective positions in Washington.

Ravens’ e-mail says Rushings actions embarrass the state: “We are a progressive example for the rest of the country and we deserve so much more from our elected officials.”

Jamal Raad, a spokesman for the party, said the petition drive was a way to organize people and send a message that the comments are unacceptable. Some members who aren’t “tuned in to every political story” don’t know about the comments, he said.

“We haven’t decided what to do with the petitions,” Raad said. They’ll wait to gauge the response early next week.

Tally the same: Rushing wins AH “mayor’s” race

A hand recount of the Airway Heights ballots confirmed that Councilman Patrick Rushing defeated Mayor Matthew Pederson by two votes for the city’s top elective spot.

Final tally was the same as the machine count: Rushing 281, Pederson 279. There were 33 ballots that didn’t have a mark for either candidate.

The mayor’s title is largely ceremonial in Airway Heights which has a city manager form of government. The main job is running the city council, and the job appeared on the ballot as Council Chair, Position 1.

Incumbent mayor behind by 2

The results of this month’s Spokane County election were certified on Tuesday, but the counting isn’t over.

Elections officials next week will recount by hand votes in the race for Airway Heights mayor.

City Councilman Patrick Rushing’s lead over incumbent Mayor Matthew Pederson grew in the latest tally to two votes.