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Frontrunners secure November ballot positions

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 7, 2012

Staff and wire reports

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee will carry a slight advantage over Republican rival Rob McKenna as the two frontrunners easily advanced through a crowded primary field tonight to secure their expected November face off.

McKenna, currently serving as state attorney general, captured about 43 percent of ballots counted tonight, while Inslee, a former congressman, picked up about 46 percent of the vote. Ballot counting is continuing.

Inslee had trailed McKenna in early returns tonight, but surged into the lead when the King County ballots were added to the total.

The two have raised more than $7 million each already, and their campaigns have been focused against each other for months. They are vying to replace Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is not seeking a third term.

U.S. Senate

In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell took a commanding lead with 52 percent of the vote in early returns, leaving Spokane Republican Michael Baumgartner, a state senator, with a distant second finish but enough to secure the No. 2 spot on the general election ballot.

U.S. House, 5th District

In Eastern Washington, Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the 5th District U.S. House incumbent, was pulling a comfortable majority against three challengers, with about 54 percent of the vote. She will face Rich Cowan, a Democrat and political newcomer, in the fall. Cowan received almost 35 percent of the primary vote.

“I am humbled and excited that – even in a four-person field – a majority of Eastern Washington voters have selected me to move on to the general election campaign,” McMorris Rodgers said in prepared remarks. “I will continue to fight for the great people of Eastern Washington by advocating for Fairchild Air Force Base, supporting our service members and their families, ensuring Spokane is home to a new medical school, promoting rural health care, and expanding domestic energy production through the advancement of hydropower.”

Washington Legislature, District 3

Meanwhile, it could be days before a key state House race is decided.

Marcus Riccelli, former aide to retiring state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, is comfortably in first, but three candidates — Bob Apple, Tim Benn and Jon Snyder — are less than 100 votes apart in the race for second.

For the state Senate seat being vacated by Brown’s retirement, her handpicked Democratic successor, Andy Billig, enjoyed a nearly 20-point lead with 59.2 percent of the vote.

His Republican opponent, Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, received 40.8 percent of the vote in the most strongly Democratic district in Eastern Washington. She’ll face Billig again in November.

Democratic Rep. Timm Ormsby enjoyed an even greater margin over Republican challenger Dave White, with 64.4 percent of the vote. Both will advance to the November ballot.

Washington Legislature, District 4

Republican state Rep. Matt Shea enjoyed a strong lead over Democratic challenger Amy Biviano in District 4, a traditional Republican stronghold. Shea received 57.4 percent of the vote to Biviano’s 42.6 percent. Under the top-two primary, however, both will advance to the November ballot.

Republican state Sen. Mike Padden and Rep. Larry Crouse are not opposed.

Washington Legislature, District 6

The Republican vote was also split in the 6th Legislative District, as Jeff Holy took second overall for a chance to take on Dennis Dellwo, a Democrat, for an open seat in November.

Tuesday night Dellwo had about 44 percent of the vote, Holy about 30 percent, and two other Republicans, Ben Oakley and Larry Keller, fell behind with 15 percent and 11 percent of the tally.

Republican incumbent Kevin Parker is unopposed for his seat in the 6th District.

Spokane County Commission, District 2

In a hard-fought three-way race, Republican Shelly O’Quinn and Democrat Daryl Romeyn appear to have earned spots on the November ballot for Spokane County Commission. Romeyn was on top with 42.1 percent of the vote.

O’Quinn and fellow Republican Rob Chase split the party’s vote with 34.7 percent and 23.1 percent, respectively. Chase won the office of Spokane County treasurer in 2010 with strong tea-party support.

Spokane County Commission, District 1

Incumbent Todd Mielke won what amounted to a straw poll in his Spokane County Commission race against John Roskelley, who held the seat before Mielke was elected in 2004.

Republican Mielke had 55.4 percent of the vote, while Democrat Roskelley pulled in 44.6 percent. Both will move forward to the November ballot.

Washington Supreme Court

Justices Susan Owens and Steve Gonzalez have easily retained their seats, and Seattle appeals lawyer Sheryl Gordon McCloud is leading a crowded field seeking to replace retiring Justice Tom Chambers.

Owens is winning than 63 percent of the vote against two challengers in early primary returns Tuesday night. Gonzalez is taking 57 percent over little-known Seattle lawyer Bruce Danielson, who is carrying many of the state’s rural counties.

Candidates who win half the vote advance unopposed to the general election. If no candidate wins 50 percent, the top two advance.

That’s the case so far for the seat being vacated by Chambers. McCloud is leading with nearly 32 percent of the vote. Former Justice Richard Sanders is collecting 27.5 percent, King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer 25.6 percent, and former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg 15 percent.

Superintendent of public instruction

It’s looking like Randy Dorn will advance to the fall election uncontested in the race for state superintendent of public instruction.

Dorn, the incumbent, was getting over 50 percent of the primary vote Tuesday. Dorn was the only superintendent candidate who has raised any money to support his campaign.

Under Washington’s top-two primary system, the top two vote getters running for superintendent of public instruction go on to the general election, unless one person earns 50 percent plus one vote. In that case the candidate getting more than 50 percent moves on to the general election alone.

Secretary of state

Republican Kim Wyman has advanced to the fall election in the secretary of state’s race, where she’ll likely meet Democrat Kathleen Drew.

Wyman, Thurston County’s auditor since 2001, was garnering the most votes in early returns in Tuesday’s primary. Drew is a former state senator. She was receiving the second-most votes, outpacing two other high-profile Democrats — former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and state Sen. Jim Kastama.

Longtime incumbent Sam Reed is retiring. Reed has been Washington’s top elections official since 2000.

Attorney general

Republican Reagan Dunn and Democrat Bob Ferguson have advanced to the November election in the attorney general’s race.

Early results from Tuesday’s primary showed both men garnering enough votes to move on in Washington’s top-two system. Ferguson had a substantial lead with 52.2 percent of the vote to Dunn’s 38.3 percent.

Dunn and Ferguson are both King County Council members. Dunn, a former federal prosecutor, has emphasized his law enforcement experience. Ferguson has said he’d use the office to focus on protecting consumers from fraud.

The attorney general oversees more than 1,100 people, including 525 attorneys. The current two-year budget for the office is about $229 million.

State auditor

Business development consultant James Watkins advanced to the fall election in the race for state auditor, where he’ll likely face state Rep. Troy Kelley.

The Republican Watkins from Redmond was getting the most votes in Tuesday’s primary, with Democrat Kelley of Tacoma coming in second.

Longtime Democratic incumbent Brian Sonntag is retiring after 20 years.

Insurance commissioner

Incumbent Mike Kreidler has advanced to the fall election in the state insurance commissioner’s race. The Democrat will likely face Republican John Adams again — he defeated Adams for the same office in 2004 and 2008.

Kreidler was getting over 50 percent of the vote in early primary returns Tuesday night, with Adams placing second.

Lands commissioner

Incumbent Peter Goldmark will face Republican challenger Clint Didier in the fall in the race for commissioner of public lands.

Goldmark was getting the most votes in early primary returns Tuesday night, with Didier coming in second.

Didier is a farmer and rancher in Franklin County who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP Senate nomination in the 2010 election. Goldmark, a Democrat, is seeking his second term.

The lands commissioner controls 1 million acres of farmland, 2 million acres of forest land and 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands. One of the roles of the lands commissioner is to use those lands in a productive manner to generate money for various state operations.

Lieutenant governor

Longtime incumbent Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and Republican Bill Finkbeiner have advanced to the fall election.

The Democrat Owen, who has served 16 years, nearly garnered the majority of the votes following early vote counts, with 49.2 percent. Finkbeiner, who previously served as the Republican majority leader in the state Senate, finished second with 24.9 percent.

Along with presiding over the Senate, which is the most visible part of the job, the lieutenant governor is in command when the governor is out of state.

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