Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Whitman County Commissioner District 2 Primary Results

Pat O'Neill (D) 584 votes (56.3163%)

Jerry Finch (R) 453 votes (43.6837%)

There are still 1,200 Whitman County votes to count, so the totals will change, but there is no indication how many are left to count from District 2. The overall percentage probably won't change much.

It is a bit surprising that 8-year incumbent commissioner Jerry Finch is trailing by double digits. Both men have been waging a fairly low-key campaign, with each filing with the PDC in the under $5,000 spending category.

Just come quick observations:

  • The whole county will vote for the commissioners in the general election. Given Whitman County's strong Republican makeup, this can only help Jerry. There is no real cause for alarm. A 130 vote difference is nothing with a much larger electorate come November. Given the fact that only approximately 1,000 people cast votes, it is hard to read much into these primary results.

  • Local races like this are often about personality rather than party, and Jerry's "tell it like it is" style can sometimes rub people the wrong way. Highly publicized stories about handicapped voting at the courthouse and county-funded SUVs for commissioners cannot have helped.

  • I've always said that in order for a Democrat to win countywide office, they cannot be part of the ultra-leftist WSU/Pullman clique. Pat O'Neill is a retired aircraft mechanic who lives in Colton. He has not advocated any outrageous policies, only proposing more government transparency and improved communications.

  • Jerry knew his stance on the Rural Residential Zoning Ordinance passed last year might cost him support with conservatives, and that very well may be the case here.

  • In any case, Jerry's campaign will now need to turn it up a notch and roll up its sleeves to get him reelected in November. It's obvious it won't be enough just to put up yard signs.

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