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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

U.S. Senate primary: Cantwell and 29 challengers

Senator Maria Cantwell is among the Washington legislators up for election in primaries that closed Friday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Washington’s primary ballot will be extra long this year, as a near-record number of candidates filed for the U.S. Senate seat, and other races down the ballot filled out before filing closed Friday afternoon.

The Senate race drew 30 candidates – incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell and 29 challengers – with 14 of them listing Republican as their party preference. Signing up about an hour before the deadline was former state GOP Chairwoman Susan Hutchison, a former Seattle television news anchor.

The race also has four Democrats besides Cantwell, five who listed the Independent Party – although that may mean some are merely independents without a formal party, one each from the Libertarian and Green parties, plus an eclectic collection of minor parties. Among them was Brad Chase, who listed his preference as the FDFR Party.

Chase, a communications strategist from Vancouver, said the designation is an acronym, with the D standing for Democrats and the R for Republicans. The Fs stand for a four-letter expletive not used in family newspapers. He said he filed “somewhat on a lark” and has set his expectations appropriately low for an unknown candidate in a race with such a large field.

The modern record for a U.S. Senate race in Washington is 33, set in 1983, for a special election to fill the seat after long-time Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson died, Erich Ebel, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office said.

Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District picked up a fifth candidate, Kari Olavi Ilonummi, who filed as the third Republican in the race. Ilonummi, of Arlington, Washington, operates a news website, No Spin News Source, and ran for the 2nd District seat two years ago. Under federal law, a member of the House need not live in the district he or she represents, but must live in the state.

Incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jered Bonneau, also Republicans, filed earlier in the week, as did Democrat Lisa Brown and Dave Saulibio, who lists his preference as Trump Populist, a party he said is just him.

In Spokane-area legislative races, all races are contested, but many candidates will advance to the general without much effort because there only two people have filed. But an open House seat in Spokane’s 6th District has four candidates, and longtime Rep. Joel Kretz, in northeast Washington’s 7th District, has three challengers.

Under the state’s primary system, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of party. Candidates who decide over the weekend they don’t want to run can withdraw by Monday afternoon, but they lose their filing fee, which is 1 percent of the annual salary of the office they’re seeking. For U.S. Senate and House candidates, the fee is $1,740.