How You Can Tell Spokane’s Mayoral Race is Getting Serious


If you’re driving around the Lilac City these days, you’re likely seeing evidence of how seriously Spokane’s biggest local political action committee is taking Democrat Lisa Brown’s bid for the mayor’s office. 

Billboards went up recently painting Brown and Betsy Wilkerson, a city council member running for council president, as soft on crime. 

The billboards, which only cost a few thousand dollars, are a relatively minor part of the Spokane Good Government Alliance’s independent campaign against Brown on behalf of incumbent Mayor Nadine Woodward and a slate of city council candidates. There’s also a $75,000 digital advertising push and $25,000 in TV advertising. 

The Alliance has spent nearly $380,000 this cycle on keeping incumbent Woodward in office and electing a business-friendly city council. It’s money comes from a who’s-who of Spokane business interests, most notably developer Lawrence Stone.

The Spokane mayor’s race is by far the most expensive in the state this year. Woodward and Brown have both raised more than $400,000, more than double the amount pulled in by any of the candidates for Seattle City Council, where the city’s democracy voucher system is serving — at least for now — as a cap and restraint on fundraising and spending. 

Brown, who represented Spokane in the Legislature for years before an unsuccessful bid for Congress and a stint as Gov. Jay Inslee’s commerce secretary, got more than 47 percent of the vote in the August primary, compared to less than 36 percent for Woodward. However, nearly 13 percent went to a challenger who was coming after Woodward from the right. 

Since then, Woodward has come under fire for hanging out with Matt Shea, the far-right former lawmaker, at a Christian nationalist event. 

Expect a dogfight through Election Day.

This article first appeared in the author’s political blog, The Washington Observer.

Paul Queary
Paul Queary
Paul Queary, a veteran AP reporter and editor, is founder of The Washington Observer, an independent newsletter on politics, government and the influence thereof in Washington State.


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