Friday, May 11, 2012

Behind-the-scenes of the Democratic rumble for the 3rd

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Now, thanks to Bob Apple, there are four Democrats – Apple, Marcus Riccelli, Jon Snyder, and John Waite, competing in the primary, and only one Republican.

Since it’s a top two primary, theoretically, two Democrats could be in the general election. But expect a lot of vote splitting: They’ll be competing for the same Democratic voters.

That means usually routine things like endorsements – and behind-the-scenes politicking -- may matter even more.

Recently, 3rd district Democratic candidate John Waite expressed his frustration that some organizations, like AFL-CIO’s Washington State Labor Council, have already made endorsements.

“They [shouldn’t] be making these decisions for at least a couple of weeks before they know who’s running,” Waite says. “It’s elite kingmaking in my book.”

Riccelli credits his personal connections and his speed. With his announcement on a Thursday and the Washington State Labor Council convention on a Saturday, he had to work fast.

“They endorsed me on the floor, which is not the normal process,” Riccelli says.

Later comes endorsements of local political parties like the Spokane County Democrats. That’s even more complicated: First the candidate has to ask for an endorsement, says Kris Cejka, chair of the Spokane County Democrats. Then they fill out a bio and a questionnaire and send it to the endorsement committee, which certifies that the candidate is actually a Democrat. The Spokane County Democrat’s executive board makes a recommendation, and the greater Spokane County Democrat body then votes on the endorsement.

Notably, they may endorse more than one candidate.

“If there’s more than one that’s appropriate we would endorse more than one,” Cejka says. “In the past that didn’t always happen, but that’s what we’re doing now.”

Two years ago, Spokane County Democrats endorsed Clyde Cordero over Daryl Romeyn in the primary to take on Cathy McMorris Rodgers. But Romeyn won the primary.

“We’ve had a reevaluation of past policies,” Cejka says vaguely. “Several different things had happened — I’m not going to go there.”

Cejka doesn’t expect the endorsements to be made for a couple months.

But despite the fact that Waite’s complained about Riccelli’s endorsements, he hasn’t yet applied for the Spokane County Democrat’s endorsement. Part of that is that Waite hasn’t officially filed yet. He’s been waiting to see how the rest of the race shakes out before fully committing.

Now Bob Apple’s in the race, a candidate that, like Waite, doesn’t fit easily in the “Democrat” box.

“I think that makes it harder on me, but it doesn’t define my decision yet,” Waite says. “I have a lot of people who want me in.”

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters is the Inlander's senior investigative reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...