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Doug Clark: John Ahern’s recount strategy compounds big loss

Nobility sometimes rises out of a crushing defeat.

It’s our way of romanticizing lost causes like Gen. Custer’s futile last stand at Little Big Horn, say, or those brave Alamo holdouts, so outnumbered and outgunned.

Or Chicago Cubs baseball. Pick a year.

But as John Ahern will soon learn, there is no good will for a sore loser.

Ahern is the former Republican state representative who ran for a seat on the Spokane City Council last month and got his rear end, as they say, handed to him on a platter.

Jon Snyder, the incumbent, clobbered Ahern by 5,669 votes, which is a margin of about 2-to-1.

Common sense says you take a whipping like that with a gracious nod and live to battle another day.

Ahern, however, wants a recount.

Ahab would probably like another harpoon stab, too.

To me, this is more proof that exposure to politics can addle the brain.

Everyone’s upset these days about what too many knocks to the noggin do to football players when it’s politics that’ll really fry your gourd.

The evidence is in every election. Candidates promise the moon when they’re running. Then they take office and immediately start exhibiting signs of amnesia.

Or maybe someone spiked Ahern’s Metamucil with a hallucinogenic drug, like acid or PCP.

Sorry. I don’t want to sound ageist.

Ahern may be a 78-year-old geezer, but he’s shown absolutely no sign of senility.

Well, until this, anyway.

That Ahern wants only an inadequate portion of votes recounted makes what he’s doing even crazier.

As reporter Jonathan Brunt pointed out in his news story, Ahern already won 625 of the 1,600 ballots he wants retallied.

So say Ahern wins all of the remaining 975.

He still comes away a loser and won’t get to help generate the indecision coming out of City Hall during Monday night council meetings.

Ahern even acknowledged in Brunt’s piece that he hadn’t asked for a wide enough recount to change the outcome of his race. But then he seemed to dismiss this mathematical certainty by saying …

“Life is full of possibilities.”

Yes, John, and fairy dust can make you fly.

Really. Someone needs to fund a study on politics as a mental disorder.

So why is Capt. Ahern chasing this white whale?

“I doorbelled a little over 10,000 homes,” he said in the article. “I got very good reception from just about everybody.”

Oh. Good. Grief.

Of course he was treated kindly, and here’s why.


HUSBAND – “Who’s at the door?”

WIFE (peeking out a window) – “It’s some old guy.”

HUSBAND – “He carrying a Bible?”

WIFE – “No, thank gawd. I’ll see what he wants.”

(A few minutes later.)


WIFE – “He said his name was John something or other. He seemed really sweet so I gave him a cookie.”

HUSBAND – “He say what he wanted?”

WIFE – “Oh, yeah. He’s apparently running for council or the County Commission. He gave me a brochure but I threw it in the recycling bin already. Want me to go get it?”

HUSBAND – “Naw. Hey, are we outta beer?”

I know. You could almost feel sorry for Ahern if what he is doing wasn’t so small and self-serving.

And for the record, the fact Ahern is paying for his madness doesn’t help.

Nuts is nuts no matter who’s picking up the tab.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or

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