Pin It
Favorite

Battle of the Johns 

Who will carry the 6th House seat - the new incumbent, or the old one?

click to enlarge John Driscoll (left) and John Ahern
  • John Driscoll (left) and John Ahern

After eight years in state government, John Ahern was turned out of office by a mere 72 votes in favor of newcomer John Driscoll in the state House election for the 6th District in 2008.

A 72-vote loss (it was 74 before an automatic hand-recount) for a Republican in 2008 amounts to clinging ferociously by your fingernails against the blue wave that swept Barack Obama to the White House and Democrats in general to major gains.

But two years later, in the grip of a stubborn recession, the political waves are crashing to the right and the electorate is charged with an anti-incumbent sentiment.

With Ahern and Driscoll running in a rematch, the question here is which incumbent — the old or the new — is in a better spot?

“I knocked on a door a couple of weeks ago and an older gentleman answered,” the 75-year-old Ahern recalls. “‘Ahern,’ he says, ‘I understand you were in for eight years.’ Yes, I said. ‘But you are not the incumbent?’ No, I said. ‘Well then, you’ve got my vote,’ he said.”

Driscoll, who polled at 41 percent in the threeway August primary (against Ahern and moderate Republican Shelly O’Quinn), says he is running as if he is 10 points behind.

“There is no doubt the mood of voters is moving toward the conservative side. I believe my position as a moderate Democrat aware of business issues allows me to maybe go against the national trend,” Driscoll, 52, says.

Both men say they hear plenty of angst about jobs and the recession while out ringing doorbells, and both expect the race to be close once again.

Does the electorate’s sour mood favor the former four-term incumbent Ahern, who finished roughly 3,000 votes behind Driscoll in the primary and has raised only $31,000?

Or will voters give a nod to Driscoll, a moderate Democrat opposed to raising taxes and who has attracted $149,000 in campaign funding?

The candidate who prevails will be the one who more successfully woos the 10,000 votes that went to O’Quinn in the primary. Do they break toward Driscoll along moderate lines, or for: Ahern along party lines? O’Quinn, who works for Greater Spokane, Incorporated (the chamber of commerce), is prohibited by her employer’s policy from endorsing any candidate.

“When I was out doorbelling, a lot of people thought John Ahern was still in office. He definitely has significant name recognition,” O’Quinn says. “I honestly can’t speak for my supporters, but I do think I had a coalition of support. I think you will see a lot of them go for John Ahern [as Republicans], but we also drew a lot of independents.”

The district itself is in flux, she says.

“The demographic is changing dramatically. The median age is 34 with 1.4 children and over 70 percent with at least some college education. It is becoming a very young district. It is moving to be a more moderate district, but it still leans right,” O’Quinn says.

The Republican legacy of the 6 th District favors Ahern, especially in a year where a backlash against Democrats is expected. But the district’s youth and moderation — plus the reality that more than 95 percent of incumbents retain their seats — favor Driscoll.

  • Pin It

Speaking of...

  • Recall and Response
  • Recall and Response

    The attempt to remove Spokane Mayor David Condon from office may be a long shot, but he isn't taking any chances
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Ugly Breakup
  • Ugly Breakup

    The long-running rift between the mayor and the city council president just got worse
    • Jun 9, 2016
  • Beggs for a Solution
  • Beggs for a Solution

    In the three months Breean Beggs has been on the council, he's pitched out-of-the-box ideas for some of the city's stickiest problems
    • Jun 2, 2016
  • More »

Latest in News

  • Bridging 
the Gap
  • Bridging the Gap

    Bridge Avenue stands as the dividing line between the swanky Kendall Yards and impoverished West Central. Is that about to change?
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Rematch
  • Rematch

    Once again, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Joe Pakootas face off for her seat in Congress. Here are some ways they differ
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Hail to the Chief (Again)
  • Hail to the Chief (Again)

    Craig Meidl again gets the nod from Mayor Condon; plus, a WSU football player in Domino's brawl won't be charged
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Mad Hatter Vintage Flea Market

Mad Hatter Vintage Flea Market @ Five Mile Grange

Fri., Sept. 30 and Sat., Oct. 1

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Kevin Taylor

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


Briefs


trail mix


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • State of Play
  • State of Play

    Medical education and gun safety get hearings in Olympia
    • Feb 11, 2015
  • 'I Do Not Trust Muzlims'
  • 'I Do Not Trust Muzlims'

    Comments by the wife of Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell have raised questions about his office's impartiality
    • Feb 25, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation