Saturday, August 02, 2008

Did the Spokesman-Review Just Blow the 7th LD Contest Wide Open?

The 7th legislative district is Washington State's largest, stretching from the Canadian border to the Spokane area and encompassing towns from Airway Heights to Colville and beyond. Bob Sump has been our Representative for approximately 102 years, so when he announced his retirement this session it threw open the doors.

Kind of. 5 candidates have announced to run for the seat Rep. Sump is vacating, all Republicans. Shelly Short has spent the last two years as a legislative assistant for Rep. Joel Kretz, also of the 7th, and she was one of the first to announce that she'd run for Rep. Sump's position. Rep. Sump endorsed her, which matters quite a bit to a lot of voters in the district. She's also got a pat on the back from George Nethercutt.

And then, in the August 2nd edition of the Spokesman-Review, this happens:

The husband of 7th Legislative District candidate Shelly Short may face criminal charges in the alleged theft of $3,318 from a volunteer fair organization.

Colville Police Chief Damond Meshishnek said his department is nearing completion of an investigation into financial irregularities reported June 16 by the Northeast Washington Fair Association.

Short's husband, Mitch J. Short, 46, was president of the association at the time.

The case is being investigated as a possible first-degree theft, and a report is expected to go to the Stevens County prosecutor's office soon, Meshishnek said.

There is no indication that Shelly Short, also 46, was involved in the alleged embezzlement.

Mitch Short declined to comment except to call the timing of a newspaper inquiry "a political smear job at its worst."

"Allowing this to happen to anyone in the public eye sends a chilling message to anyone considering public service," he said in e-mail statement.
Mr. Short might have a point about the timing; ballots just showed up in mailboxes, and the Spokesman-Review is scheduled to make their endorsement for the race in Sunday's paper.

It will be really, really interesting to see if this scandal changes the dynamic of the race at all, because there's no disputing that Short would have to be considered an odds-on favorite to win. She has more money than any of the other candidates ($38,750 ; Sue Lani Madsen is in 2nd place with $32,657), and she certainly seems more connected. If you had asked me last week what I expected the result of the primary to be, I would have given you Short and Madsen to the general election by a wide, wide margin.

Now? That could be a good question. My personal favorite of the five has been Kelly White, a former member of the state Fish and Wildlife Commission whose daughter is a school superintendent. He'd be able to speak knowledgeably about the recreation issues that matter so much to the northern part of the district while at the same time understanding education, which is always important. Perhaps this opens the door for him in a way that it wasn't before and he gets through to the general election.

And I thought that politics in August would be rather dry. Thanks, Spokesman!

Update (8/6): Mitch Short has his name on the ballot, too, for precinct committee officer in Addy.

Also see here for more Shelly Short discussion, including a hit piece from "RepublicanStaffer" and a mild defense from some guy named Ryan.

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