Washington voters have begun receiving their ballots for the Aug. 4 Washington state primary. As they scan the many contested primary races, they should think strategically about their votes.
In the most crowded fields, only a few serious candidates have a chance to compete in the November general election. Experience and agenda are important, but so too is demonstrated ability to raise enough money to run a campaign for a few more months.
Washington uses a top-two primary. That means the two candidates with the most votes advance to a runoff in November. They could be of the same political party or no political party, though most often a Democrat and a Republican advance.
We’ve taken a look at the primary races and offer the following guidance. In most races we recommend multiple candidates as the best options to go head-to-head and give voters a real choice in November.
Governor: Inslee, Freed or Garcia
With three dozen candidates running against incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee, second place is up for grabs. Democrats, of course, will want to support Inslee, who has raised more money than all other candidates combined.
Those who want change should consider Joshua Freed and Raul Garcia. Freed, the mayor of Bothell, is second in fundraising. Garcia, meanwhile, offers a compelling story as an emergency room physician and Cuban immigrant.
The other big name in the race is prolific ballot measure author Tim Eyman, but he brings too much baggage to have a chance of knocking off Inslee.
Lt. Governor: Heck, Liias or Sattler
In this race, too, a Democrat is running away with fundraising. U.S. Rep. Denny Heck lapped the field and then some. Democrats who want someone more closely tied to state politics should choose Marko Liias, the State Senate majority floor leader.
Republicans should lean toward Ann Davison Sattler. She’s racked up an impressive list of endorsements and is the only non-Democrat in the race raising substantial money.
Secretary of State: Wyman or Tarleton
Incumbent Kim Wyman faces a strong challenge from union-backed candidate Gael Tarleton. Other candidates in the race are also-rans.
Attorney General: Ferguson, Larkin or Vaska
Bob Ferguson, the Democratic incumbent, has raised more than $3.4 million. His two chief Republican opponents, Matt Larkin and Mike Vaska, have split most of the GOP fundraising, which totals less than half a million. Neither will likely stop Ferguson in November.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Reykdal or Espinoza
Incumbent Chris Reykdal’s only significant challenger is Maia Espinoza. A vote for Reykdal, then, is a vote for education as usual. Espinoza could be a more transformative candidate as she’s focused on the right issues including more innovation in teaching methods, school choice, entrepreneurship and better access to technology.
Commissioner of Public Lands: Franz or Pederson
The Seattle establishment has pumped money into incumbent Hilary Franz’s campaign. Sue Pederson is the only plausible alternative in the race, but she’s behind more than 20-to-1 in raising funds.
State Auditor: McCarthy
Incumbent State Auditor Pat McCarthy has two opponents, but neither has the experience necessary for the job.
Legislative District 4, Senator: Padden and Roskelley
Incumbent Republican Mike Padden will likely cruise to reelection in November. Democrats and others who would like someone new in the seat should choose John Roskelley. He hasn’t raised much money, but at least he brings experience as a former Spokane County Commissioner.
Legislative District 4, Representative, Position 1: McCaslin and Feagan
Republican Bob McCaslin is an incumbent for Position 2 who elected to run for Position 1. He hasn’t raised much money. Democrats, perhaps sensing vulnerability in the wake of Rep. Matt Shea’s scandals, have pumped $87,000 into Lori Feagan’s campaign. Let those two duke it out.
Legislative District 4, Representative, Position 2: Christian and Gurel
Republican Leonard Christian and Democrat Lance Gurel bring the best experience and familiarity with their potential constituents.
Legislative District 6, Representative, Position 2: Graham and McGarry
Incumbent Jenny Graham is the easy choice for Republicans in the district. Of her two Democratic opponents, Tom McGarry brings the better experience.
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