by KEVIN TAYLOR AND JOEL SMITH & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & hich way will supporters of Al French break, pundits wondered (twisting their long, nervous fingers into knots as pundits are wont to do)?

French, who placed third in the five-way mayoral primary, had attracted more business dollars than the populist Verner and the furrowed brows of post-primary punditry strained to determine if his donors would go to Verner out of some "anyone-but-Hession" feeling. Or, would the money go to Hession because of "anything-but-populism" thinking?

Well, cha-ching, a few big hitters have shown up on the incumbent's list after the primary. The Community Builders Trust, which had donated $2,500 to French, gave the same amount to Hession and politically active tire dealers Duane and Matt Alton, who each popped $1,000 for French, pitched $250 each to Hession.

Hit Me Baby One More Time

The Hession campaign machine is an astonishing and tireless money-maker. Since the August primary his campaign forms list 166 more donors, flinging $22,256.50 into his coffers.

Combing through the list shows about 30 of those are repeat donors and 33 are hefty offerings of $250 or better. The biggest new donors are the Builders Trust and a second check came from Marshall Chesrown's Black Rock Development ($1,500, which arrived just before the primary).

Verner, who has run well-behind Hession in fund-raising all along, lists 66 donations since the primary for just shy of $6,000. About 10 donors on this list are repeat givers. Five are checks written for $250 or better - the biggest new donor being Milford's Fish House for $1,000; former city councilman Dean Lynch is down twice for $500.

Does Money Talk?

What does it say about this race, this city, that Hession, despite out-raising Verner $158,000 to $46,000 (as of Sept. 17), and out-spending Verner $133,000 to $44,000 was only ahead by 304 votes in the primary?

Longtime political adviser Stan Shore, of Polis Political Services in Olympia, told The Inlander early in the campaign that Spokane has a notoriously crabby electorate, making it a tough for mayors to win re-election. Shore has so far been paid $20,200.19 in six checks through the end of August, to get Hession over that hump.

Waiting for November

If your appetite for political intrigue must be sated, look no further than Bonners Ferry, Idaho (OK, that's pretty far), where the race for mayor is looking more and more like Waiting for Guffman every day. November's ballot asks voters to choose among an undertaker, a Christmas tree farmer and a kung fu teacher.


Funeral director Mick Mellett ("Bored stiff with city leadership? Lay your worries to rest with Mellett!") was a city councilman for 20 years before failing at re-election two years ago. He was, however, reappointed after councilwoman Leslie Falcon died. Hmm...

Tree farmer David Anderson and sensei Mike Huggins will no doubt be in close competition for campaign slogans involving "chopping taxes," but Huggins currently holds the rhetorical edge. The instructor and community theater actor offered this Zen-like nugget to the Bonners Ferry Herald last week: "If we keep on doing as we're doing, we will keep getting what we are getting."

Northwest Winterfest @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Fridays, 5-8 p.m., Saturdays, 4-8 p.m. and Sundays, 3-6 p.m. Continues through Jan. 1
  • or