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Crowded ballot for first top-two primary

Sat., June 7, 2008, midnight

OLYMPIA – Attention voters: That ballot you’ll get in August may look a bit crowded.

Hundreds of candidates filed for office this week. Ten people are running for governor. Half a dozen are running for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ congressional seat. And in the Spokane Valley area, five people are vying for an open seat in the state House of Representatives.

“It’s a strong showing this year,” said Secretary of State’s office spokesman Dave Ammons, although he said changed filing procedures make it tough to compare to previous years. Nearly 600 candidates registered for state and judicial offices, and local candidates filed with county auditors throughout the state.

Eastern Washington fielded candidates for several statewide races, although most are long-shot contenders. Among them:

“Medical Lake’s John Aiken is running for governor again after losing the 2004 Republican primary to Dino Rossi.

“Arlene Peck, a Constitution Party member and Spokane Valley retiree, is running for lieutenant governor.

“Marilyn Montgomery, of Spokane, also of the Constitution Party, is running for secretary of state.

“Spokane businessman Curt Fackler is running, with no party preference listed, for state insurance commissioner. Fackler, who is Spokane County’s GOP chairman, ran unsuccessfully for the same seat four years ago.

In the area’s congressional race, the six candidates include:

“McMorris Rodgers, running for her third term.

“Mark Mays, a Democratic Spokane psychologist, attorney and professor.

“John Beck, a Gonzaga University professor running as a Libertarian.

“Barbara Lampert, a Democratic retiree who has run for an office every year for more than a decade.

“Kurt Erickson, a “One Hundred Percent Constitutional” Clarkston home remodeler and Republican running on an anti-terrorism, anti-abortion, gun-rights platform.

“Randall Yearout, a Constitution Party member from Otis Orchards.

As for seats in the Statehouse, the competition’s fiercer than two years ago. In 2006, 23 candidates vied for a dozen Spokane-area legislative seats. This year, 34 are running for 13 seats.

In Spokane, Rep. Alex Wood, a Democrat, has drawn three challengers: Republicans Laura Carder and Chris Bowen and Independent John Waite.

In the Spokane Valley area, three Republicans and two Democrats are running for the House seat now held by Rep. Lynn Schindler, R-Otis Orchards, who is retiring.

In the 7th legislative district, which includes much of rural northeastern Washington, five people – all Republicans – are running for the seat of retiring Rep. Bob Sump, R-Republic.

Only three of the area’s state lawmakers are running unopposed this year. They are:

“Sen. Mark Schoesler, a longtime Republican lawmaker from Ritzville.

“Rep. Steve Hailey, a Republican rancher and farmer from Mesa.

“Rep. Joel Kretz, a Republican cattle rancher from Wauconda.

Most local judges are also unopposed. Only two of the 12 superior court positions have more than one candidate. Mark Vovos, Annette Plese and Greg Weber are running for an open Position 1 seat. And Judge Linda Tompkins was the only incumbent to draw a challenger, David Stevens.

A new local appeals court judge, Kevin Korsmo, also faces a challenge from Spokane attorney Harvey Dunham.

Under this year’s new “top two” primary, only the top two vote-getters in each race will go on to the November ballot. In the past, minor party candidates with a certain percentage of votes also appeared on the November ballot.

Also for the first time this year, candidates can offer very short descriptions of their preferred party. Candidates filed as Progressive, Green, Independent, no party, Constitutional, “No Gas Taxes R,” “Progressive Dem,” America’s Third Party, and “True Democratic Party.”

Fackler hopes ‘no party’ lures voters

Spokane’s Curt Fackler became the third candidate for state insurance commissioner Friday, but with a twist.

Fackler is the Spokane County Republican chairman; on the ballot, he’s listing “No party preference.”

It’s for strategic reasons, Fackler said. The race already has a Republican, John Adams, who beat Fackler in the 2004 primary before losing to incumbent Mike Kreidler. Adams doesn’t have Fackler’s GOP resume, but he has a bit of a name advantage, sharing a moniker with the nation’s second president.

So Fackler is hoping “no preference” will net him more votes among Democrats and independents in Western Washington while Republicans in Eastern Washington will know he’s one of them. He might even seek the endorsement from the party’s executive board.

State GOP Chairman Luke Esser said Friday that while he understands Fackler’s strategy, he tried to discourage him: “I don’t think it looks good for my Republican Party county chairmen to be running as ‘no preference.’ “

Jim Camden


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