With virtually no doubt in anyone’s mind that Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna would face each other in the November election, the only real question for Tuesday’s primary was who would get the most votes.
The answer right now: Inslee, whose huge margin in King County swamped big leads McKenna piled up in Eastern Washington.
When the state’s 39 counties finished their election-night tallies – traditionally more than half of what’s expected to be in the final count – former U.S. Rep. Inslee led Attorney General McKenna by about 31,000 votes. Between them, they had nearly 90 percent of the votes, with the remaining seven under-funded and generally unknown candidates dividing the rest.
Inslee used his election night lead to reiterate a call for an economy that “puts the middle class first, competes with any other place in the world and creates whole new industries and the jobs that come with it.”
McKenna emphasized education as the path to prosperity and contended he has the more specific plan to make that happen. He also made a pitch for post-primary unity among Republicans, saying “it’s time for folks to join together to work for a better state.”
Watch reporter Jim Camden discuss election results on KHQ.com
The primary, with lower-than-predicted turnout, provided few surprises in statewide races for executive offices. But it created some cliffhangers in Spokane legislative races.
Central Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District has one Democrat, former legislative aide Marcus Riccelli, moving on to the general election ballot for sure. But three other aspirants to the open state House seat – Republican Tim Benn and Democrats Bob Apple and Jon Snyder – are less than 100 votes apart in the race for the second spot.
Riccelli had the backing of much of the Democratic Party’s establishment, but at the start of his race he wasn’t well-known to most voters compared to current City Councilman Snyder and former Councilman Apple.
“We took our message to the doors and dinner tables of the 3rd District,” Riccelli said. “We ran for the position, not against anybody.”
In the 6th Legislative District, which spreads through city precincts in south and northwest Spokane as well as parts of the West Plains, Democrat Dennis Dellwo is in first and Republican Jeff Holy appears firmly in second. A concern for Dellwo – and a plus for Holy – as far as the fall campaign, however, is the total vote for the three GOP candidates exceeds Dellwo’s in the traditionally Republican district.
In Spokane County’s contested primary for the 2nd Commissioner District, Democrat Daryl Romeyn, a former television newscaster and weatherman, finished first, and Greater Spokane Incorporated executive Shelly O’Quinn has a significant lead over County Treasurer Rob Chase for the second spot.
Romeyn said he was pleased with his first-place finish given how little he spent on his campaign: “We did well without breaking the bank, and that’s what I’m all about.”
He’ll have an uphill battle in the general election against Republican O’Quinn if she can attract supporters of fellow-Republican Chase.
Chase said Tuesday night that he won’t make an endorsement in the race because as treasurer he wants to maintain good relations with the eventual winner.
Although tens of thousands of ballots have yet to arrive at county election offices, most statewide contests appeared settled after Tuesday night’s count.
Democrat Bob Ferguson has a substantial lead over Republican Reagan Dunn in the race to replace McKenna as state attorney general. The two King County councilmen far outpaced private attorney and activist Stephen Pidgeon.
Democrat Peter Goldmark, the incumbent lands commissioner, finished the night with a lead of more than 80,000 votes over Republican Clint Didier, a former pro football player turned Eastern Washington farmer. Independent Stephen Sharon finished a distant third.
The secretary of state contest this fall will likely feature two Thurston County women. County Auditor Kim Wyman, the only Republican in the seven-person race, easily finished first with nearly 40 percent of the vote; former legislator Kathleen Drew is solidly in second with a lead of more than 41,000 votes over her nearest competitor, former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.
Republican James Watkins topped three Democratic legislators in the state auditor race, and Rep. Troy Kelley has a lead of more than 25,000 votes over Sen. Craig Pridemore for the second slot.
Democrat Mike Kreidler, the incumbent insurance commissioner, appears headed for his third contest against Republican John Adams, an insurance broker. Kreidler has more than twice the votes of Adams, who is comfortably in second in the four-person race.
In most statewide executive races, the top two candidates advance to the general election, regardless of party or the margin of votes between them. The exception is the superintendent of public instruction, a nonpartisan office in which a candidate who collects more than 50 percent in the primary goes on to the general election alone, all but assuring his or her election.
One-term incumbent Randy Dorn is in a position to do just that after Tuesday night’s tally. He faced four challengers in the primary, but finished Tuesday night with more than 54 percent of the vote. Dorn leads in every county and racked up more than 63 percent of the vote in King County.
For some partisan races, the outcome was never in doubt because there were only two candidates seeking a particular office. But the results are still being watched closely because they provide candidates, supporters and potential contributors with a measure of current support as they push forward to a general election less than 100 days away.
The race for the 3rd District state Senate seat, left open by Democrat Lisa Brown’s surprise retirement, was one of the most closely watched Tuesday night because it matched two known politicians, Democrat Andy Billig, who is finishing his first term in the state House, and Republican Nancy McLaughlin, in her second term as a Spokane city councilwoman.
McLaughlin, whose council district includes parts of the legislative district, had entered the race before Brown bowed out and was thought to be a formidable foe. But Billig has a sizable lead, more than 3,000 votes, in the strongly Democratic district.
In the 4th Legislative District, two-term incumbent Republican Rep. Matt Shea had a lead of about 3,000 votes over Democrat Amy Biviano in that district’s only contested race.
Current two-term incumbent Todd Mielke, a Republican, had a lead of about 3,300 votes over former two-term incumbent John Roskelley, a Democrat, in the race for Spokane County commissioner in District 1. Commission candidates run in their districts, which hold a third of the county’s population, in the primary, but run countywide in the general.