Spokane Mayor Out; GOP Wins Calif. Seat
Thursday, December 8, 2005
SPOKANE, Wash., Dec. 7 -- Spokane Mayor James E. West must leave office this month after voters recalled him in a special election Tuesday sparked by allegations that he used a city computer to woo gay men over the Internet.
In California, Republican state Sen. John Campbell was elected to a vacant congressional seat in a race that placed a spotlight on national immigration policy.
West, 54, must leave his position when the election results are certified Dec. 16. He has not been charged with a crime, but FBI agents seized computers from his home as part of an investigation.
"I said I'd abide by the will of the voters, obviously, and they've spoken," West said. "I'm at peace with their decision and disappointed." The recall election was launched by a local resident, Shannon Sullivan, who said she felt vindicated by the results.
West, a former Boy Scout executive and sheriff's deputy, was elected mayor in 2003 after serving more than two decades in the state legislature, where the conservative Republican voted against gay-friendly bills.
The recall campaign began after the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported in May that West visited gay chat rooms using his city-owned laptop computer and offered internships and other favors to young men with whom he hoped to have sex.
Sullivan, who has no legal background, shepherded her petitions for a recall vote through superior and state high court challenges brought by the mayor's lawyers.
California's U.S. House race was held to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Rep. Christopher Cox (R), who represented the Orange County district for 17 years. He was appointed chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission by President Bush.
With all precincts reported and absentee ballots counted, Campbell had 41,450 votes, or 45 percent in unofficial returns, followed by Democratic candidate Steve Young with 25,926 votes, or 28 percent, in one of the most reliably Republican districts in the nation.
Third-party candidate Jim Gilchrist, a founder of the Minuteman Project border watch group who made illegal immigration the centerpiece of his campaign, was third with 23,237 votes, or nearly 25 percent.
Gilchrist, a retired accountant and former Marine, complained that Campbell would not go far enough to curb illegal immigration.