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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Intriguing possibilities for Spokane House race

After an intense three-month campaign, the race for a state House seat representing central Spokane only revealed the first- and last-place finishers.

The three candidates in between will have to wait at least through the end of the week  – and perhaps through a round of recounting – to determine who will face top vote-getter Democrat Marcus Riccelli in November.

Two of the three possible challengers to Riccelli also are Democrats and offer intriguing general election matchups.

Former Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple, a Democrat and former Republican, appeals to some Republicans and even won the endorsement of the Spokane Home Builders Association during the primary. With a solid base of support in northeast Spokane, he could offer a formidable challenge to Riccelli – though he would have to massively step up his efforts to match Riccelli’s financial support and professional organization.

Current Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder holds nearly identical views on the issues as Riccelli and is popular with the Democratic Party, but faltered as the party’s establishment fell in line behind Riccelli, who was Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s choice. Republicans would struggle to choose between the two, and Snyder would have to successfully woo them to win.

Day care center co-owner Tim Benn, as a Republican and first-time candidate likely would have significant difficulty in a race against Riccelli, as shown in two-person races between Democrats and Republicans in the district, including Tuesday’s primary for state Senate between Democrat Andy Billig and Republican Nancy McLaughlin. Billig has a nearly 20 percentage point lead over McLaughlin, who has won big in her nonpartisan races for Spokane City Council.

Snyder said he is confident that he can jump out of his fourth-place finish because of late campaign efforts.

“We did a lot of calling, a lot of doorbelling,” Snyder said.

He said if he moves on against Riccelli, the gap between them in the primary won’t mean much in the general election. Turnout in the district could be twice as much in November, he said.

Apple said he’s confident his lead will hold. He said he expects to attract Republican support in November and will strenuously point to Riccelli funding advantage in a general election campaign.

“Who is he going to represent?” Apple said. “The guy bought his position.”

Spokane County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said the second batch of ballots will be counted starting at 3 this afternoon. New results likely will be posted between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., he said.

Here is how the race for state House position 1 in the 3rd Legislative District stands after the first night of counting:

  1. Riccelli, D, 4,394, will move on the general election
  2. Apple, D, 3,163, has fragile lead for second place
  3. Benn, R, 3,139, trailing Apple by 24 votes
  4. Snyder, D, 3,089, trailing Apple by 74 votes
  5. Oyler, R, 2,080, eliminated

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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