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Spin Control

Ahern skips televised debates

John Ahern on 10-13-2010

Jonathan Brunt - The Spokesman-Review

John Driscoll 10-13-2010

Jonathan Brunt - The Spokesman-Review

Tonight's annual televised Chase Youth Commission debate will have a noticeably absent candidate: John Ahern.

While Ahern has appeared with his opponent, incumbent Democratic State Rep. John Driscoll, at several other forums, Ahern also missed last month's debate sponsored by the League of Woman Voters of the Spokane Area. That event was the only other televised forum that would have featured the two side-by-side. 


Ahern served in the state House for the 6th Legislative District for eight years until he was beaten by Driscoll by only 72 votes in the 2008 election.

Driscoll still will be able to speak tonight, but League of Women Voters rules don't allow debates to go on if only one candidate appears, so the league's Ahern-Driscoll forum was cancelled.

Ahern said he missed the league's debate because he was meeting with some veterans.

"That definitely held precedence," Ahern said. "That was the time they wanted to meet."

He's missing the Chase forum to participate in a conference call sponsored by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank. 

"They're a solid supporter of mine," Ahern said of the foundation.

He said by the time the election is over, he will have appeared at about a dozen election forums with Driscoll, including ones sponsored by the West Plains Chamber of Commerce and the Arc of Spokane, a group that assists people with disabilities. On Wednesday, Ahern and Driscoll debated at a luncheon sponsored by the Spokane Building Owners and Managers Association. (At the top of this post are recordings of Ahern and Driscoll's closing statements at that debate.)

Ahern originally accepted the invitation to appear at the Chase debate, but later cancelled, said Michael LeaderCharge, youth involvement coordinator for the commission.

Driscoll's campaign sent a news release after Ahern missed the league's debate last month.

"I am getting frustrated that I’m boxing at shadows," Driscoll said late last month after watching a heated Rotary debate between the 6th District candidates for state senate.

On Wednesday, Driscoll acknowledged that Ahern has been appearing at most events, but said he remains disappointed that he hasn't attended the forums that would have had the widest audiences.

"Both are missed opportunities for the voters to see the candidates," Driscoll said.

Ahern criticized Driscoll for leaving early at some of the forums where they've appeared, such as one sponsored by retired teachers.

Driscoll said he's left a couple events early to attend other legislative or candidate events.


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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