Washington voters are unlikely to complain about their lack of choices for governor this year. They can choose among 36 people who want the job, a record for a statewide race.
The three dozen aren’t just Democrats or Republicans, either, although there are five of the former, including incumbent Jay Inslee, and 15 candidates indicating some sort of affiliation with the GOP.
Three would-be governors list their party preference as “Trump Republican” and another as “Pre2016 Republican.” Considering President Donald Trump did not carry Washington in the 2016 election, it’s hard to say which is the better strategy for getting through the nonpartisan state primary, which sends the top two vote-getters into the general election, regardless of the party preference they list.
The ballot has one candidate each from recognized minor parties like the Green, Libertarian and Socialist Workers. Three claim to prefer the Independent Party, although it’s likely they are merely signaling they are independent of any party, which is more clearly shown by the four who wrote “states no party preference” or one who wrote “unaffiliated.”
Some candidates made up their own party: StandUpAmerica, Propertarianist, Fifth Republic, New-Liberty and Cascadia Labour – British spelling on the last.
Along with Inslee, there are some familiar names, including perennial initiative sponsor Tim Eyman, state Sen. Phil Fortunato, Republic Police Chief Loren Culp and Bothell businessman Joshua Freed. All have been campaigning and raising money for months.
Also familiar to some voters with good memories might be GoodSpaceGuy, a perennial candidate from Seattle who runs for some state or federal office most years to have a chance to mention his ideas of colonizing space. He has listed his party preference as Democrat and EmploymentWealth in previous years and ran for governor in 2016 as a Republican. This year he’s one of the Trump Republicans.
He received 1% of the vote four years ago. That was less than the 3.5% for Bellevue Republican Bill Hirt but ahead of the 0.3% for Seattlite David Blomstrom, who listed his party choice then, as now, as Fifth Republic and has run several times for the nonpartisan superintendent of public instruction position.
Thor Amundson, of Olympia, also ran for the Senate in 2018, receiving 0.6% of the vote, topping Alex Tsimerman, of Seattle, who received 0.3%, This year Tsimerman might have the edge in the rematch with the enviable position of being at the top of the ballot.
Ballot positions are drawn by lot. Inslee is No. 31 on the list, down a string of names that includes newcomers like Martin “Iceman” Wheeler, of Fall City; Ian Gonzales, of Kennewick; and Elaina Gonzalez, of East Wenatchee. Inslee is also the last listed Democrat.
The previous record for candidates in a Washington governor’s race is 15, in 1996 and 1924, the secretary of state’s office said.
The governor’s list tops a crowded statewide ballot.
The lieutenant governor’s office has 14 candidates, lands commissioner seven, superintendent of public instruction six, with attorney general and secretary of state each drawing four.
Most candidates pay a filing fee that’s equal to 1% of the job’s yearly salary, most of which are in six figures. That can make running a long-shot campaign an expensive proposition. State law allows a candidate who can’t afford the filing fee to instead file a petition with signatures of registered voters equal to one name for every dollar in the filing fee.
Because of COVID-19, however, the requirement for gathering signatures was suspended this year for candidates who said they couldn’t afford the fee. A total of 62 candidates, including nine in the governor’s race, said they couldn’t afford the fee and filed free of charge.
Although a total of 79 candidates for executive office will be on the primary ballot, Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said she doesn’t anticipate a problem fitting all of them plus the county commissioner and legislative candidates on a single ballot.
The three dozen gubernatorial candidates should all fit in a single column, she said.