Next week marks the start of filing week, when candidates put cash down (1 percent of the elected position's annual salary) and throw themselves into the political ring.
Many candidates, of course, declared months (or in some cases, years) ago. And political reporters tend to use the Public Disclosure Commission's fundraising filings as a sort of early-warning radar as to who's running and who's really a contender. But next week is the traditional kickoff.
You can file at the Secretary of State's office in Olympia, where there's likely to a line on Monday morning. You can also file with your local county auditor. The Secretary of State's office expects about 70 percent of candidates to file online.
This is also the first year in which candidates will have to list a "party preference," which will be printed alongside their name on the ballot. This consists of 16 characters that will be sandwiched between "prefers" and "party."
Candidates are free to write whatever they want in that space, so long as it's not obscene or implies that they're a particular party's chosen nominee. Although election officials are hoping people stick to the names of real political parties, candidates are free to write "anti-war Dem," for example, or "no new taxes GOP" in that space.
Filing ends online on Friday June 6 at 4 p.m. and in-person that day at 5 p.m.