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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Surprise endorsement?

Karen Kearney, who is one of five challengers to incumbent City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, has listed two new endorsements on her Web site.

One is from the Spokane Regional Labor Council. That's no surprise. Kearney has garnered strong union support throughout her campaign.

The other, however, is from former City Councilman Dean Lynch, who was appointed to his seat and lost an extremely close battle to retain it in 2001 to Dennis Hession.

Lynch generally supports candidates aligned with the Democratic Party. He also was the first openly gay person to serve in an elected office in Spokane city government. Kearney, who has been active in the county GOP, opposes gay marriage and also opposes providing benefits to unmarried partners of employees.

Asked today about his endorsement, Lynch said although he disagrees with some of Kearney's platform, he said he's generally more supportive of Kearney's positions than McLaughlin's.

Kearney "is one who would be respectful of any of her constituents who come to talk to her about any issue," Lynch said.

McLaughlin also opposes domestic partner benefits. The difference between Kearney and McLaughlin on the issue is that McLaughlin said she would vote against any employee contract that included them, while Kearney says she would support union contracts that have been agreed to by the mayor and unions even if the benefits are included.

Lynch added that after he was appointed to his seat, Kearney invited him to speak at a luncheon of local Republican women.

"The tenor that she established for that luncheon was very open and very welcoming," Lynch said, adding: "though I know that many of the people (at the luncheon) would not consider voting for me for any position."

Asked if he considered endorsing John Waite, who supports providing domestic partner benefits to city employees, Lynch said he would have spent more time researching other candidates if he lived in the Northwest council district. For his district representing South Spokane, Lynch has endorsed Jon Snyder.

Kearney, like McLaughlin, made contributions to the county Republican Party earlier this year. But she distanced herself from party politics in a recent interview.

"I have voted Republican. I have been involved in the Republican Party, although with the research I'm doing I'm finding out that people need to be able to make a living wage in this town and they need to be able to not have to beg for that," she said last month. "I'm considering myself to be more of an independent now more than ever."

Jonathan Brunt
Jonathan Brunt joined The Spokesman-Review in 2004. He is the government editor. He previously was a reporter who covered Spokane City Hall, Spokane County government and public safety.

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