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Ready, set, file: Political candidates will officially submit paperwork to run for election this week

UPDATED: Mon., May 16, 2022

An election ballot is placed in ballot box outside of the Spokane Public Library on Nov. 7, 2016, in downtown Spokane. Political candidates will formally file to run for election this week.   (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)
An election ballot is placed in ballot box outside of the Spokane Public Library on Nov. 7, 2016, in downtown Spokane. Political candidates will formally file to run for election this week.  (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)
By Colin Tiernan Kip Hill and Garrett Cabeza The Spokesman-Review

Let the races officially begin – it’s filing week.

Between Monday and Friday, hundreds of federal, state and local politicians will file to run for elected office. All candidates have to formally file within the next five weekdays.

Many have announced they’re running and have been campaigning for months, but several big names will undoubtedly throw their hats into the ring over the next few days, shaking up the campaign landscape at the last minute.

Here are the offices up for election and who’s running in the August primary so far.

Spokane County Commission

The 2022 election will be a historic one for the Spokane County Commission.

For the first time, voters will elect five, not three, commissioners, each of whom will represent one district rather than the county as a whole.

Surprisingly, relatively few candidates are vying for the five spots as of mid-May.

In District 1, which covers much of western Spokane, two political rookies have announced their candidacies.

Chris Jordan, a lawyer for the Washington state Office of the Attorney General in Spokane who specializes in child safety issues, is running as a Democrat. Kim Plese, sister of Superior Court Judge Annette Plese and former owner of Plese Printing and Marketing, is running as a Republican.

District 2, the east Spokane district, could be a two-horse race between one current and one former Spokane City Council member.

Democrat Amber Waldref, sister of U.S. District Attorney for Eastern Washington Vanessa Waldref, served the maximum two terms on the Spokane City Council from 2009 to 2017. She’ll try to beat out northeast Spokane’s current Councilman Michael Cathcart, a Republican who won election in 2019.

Districts 3 and 4 haven’t had much intrigue in the early goings. Incumbents are running unopposed for the two seats.

Josh Kerns, a Republican, hopes to represent District 3, which covers the northern portion of Spokane County and Spokane Valley. Mary Kuney, the Republican chair of the Spokane County Commissioners, wants to win election in District 4, which includes southern Spokane Valley and the southeastern portion of the county.

District 5 could end up being the most exciting County Commissioner race. The district, which covers the West Plains and includes northwest Spokane and part of the upper South Hill, leans slightly Republican, but its voters have historically gone for both GOP and Democratic candidates.

Incumbent commissioner Al French, a Republican who’s been a fixture in city and county politics for two decades, hopes to hold onto his seat. He’s facing two challengers without political experience.

Democrat Maggie Yates led the region’s criminal justice reform efforts for more than three years as the Spokane County regional law and justice administrator before resigning in January. Independent Tara Carter, a District Court clerk, also hopes to unseat French.

Spokane County prosecutor

Voters might be following the county prosecutor’s race especially closely this year.

Larry Haskell, the Republican incumbent, has come under fire for his wife’s racist comments on social media. He’ll be trying to fend off three challengers.

Republican Stefanie Collins, one of Haskell’s senior deputy prosecutors, says she’ll be “tough and fair” if she wins election and has touted her record at reducing recidivism.

Stephanie Olsen, a Republican and former Spokane County deputy prosecutor, is marketing herself as a politically moderate alternative to Haskell.

No Democrats have entered the field yet, but local attorney and pastor Debra Conklin is running without a party affiliation. Conklin has publicly criticized Haskell and the way he runs the prosecutor’s office. She worked as a deputy prosecutor in Clallam County in the 1980s and serves as a Democratic precinct committee officer.

Spokane County sheriff

A trio of candidates are vying to replace longtime Republican Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who announced he’s retiring and moving to Wyoming.

John Nowels, Wade Nelson and Mike Zollars are all Republicans with at least two decades of experience at the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Nowels, an undersheriff, has Knezovich’s endorsement.

Nelson is a sheriff’s office detective who took a leave of absence last year and hasn’t worked for the county since.

Zollars left the sheriff’s office last year as a lieutenant after 33 years with the agency. He’s now a sergeant with Kalispel Tribal Police.

Longtime deputy Craig Chamberlin, who Knezovich fired soon after he announced he was running for sheriff in February, pulled out of the race last month.

Spokane County auditor

Two familiar names will battle it out to become auditor and oversee county elections.

Vicky Dalton, the county’s only elected Democrat, wants to win another term. She’s been the county auditor since 1998.

State Rep. Bob McCaslin, a Spokane Valley Republican representing the 4th Legislative District, will try to take Dalton’s job. McCaslin is retiring from the state Legislature.

Spokane County treasurer, clerk and assessor

Treasurer Michael Baumgartner, clerk Timothy Fitzgerald and assessor Tom Konis don’t have any competition yet. All three are Republican incumbents.

State Legislature

Three candidates for the 3rd Legislative District have filed with the Washington state Public Disclosure Commission.

Rep. Marcus Riccelli, a Spokane Democrat, doesn’t have any challengers so far. His fellow representative, Spokane Democrat Timm Ormsby, will face off against Republican Natalie Poulson. Poulson was in the news this fall after she was placed on administrative leave by her employer, Finch Elementary, for refusing to wear a mask in violation of the state’s COVID-19 safety mandates.

Three 4th Legislative District candidates have filed with the Public Disclosure Commission.

Rep. Rob Chase, a Liberty Lake Republican, is currently unopposed. Republicans Suzanne Schmidt and Mary Jo Bolt are trying to win the seat McCaslin will leave at the end of the year.

Incumbents, all from Spokane, stand alone in the 6th Legislative District races. Republican representatives Jenny Graham and Mike Volz, as well as Republican Sen. Jeff Holy, all hope to stay in Olympia.

It’s the same story in the 7th Legislative District. Sen. Shelly Short (R-Addy), Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber (R-Republic) and Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) all lack challengers and all hope to win re-election.

The theme of unchallenged incumbents continues in the 9th Legislative District where Republican representatives Joe Schmick (R-Colfax) and Mary Dye (R-Pomeroy) want to keep their seats.

Secretary of State

Incumbent Democrat Steve Hobbs faces a handful of challengers. He’s the only Democrat in the race so far. Hobbs was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee last year to replace Republican Kim Wyman, who served as Secretary of State for eight years before leaving to take an election security post in the Biden Administration.

Julie Anderson, who hasn’t listed a party affiliation with the Public Disclosure Commission, is the closest to Hobbs in campaign fundraising. She’s raised $108,000 compared to Hobbs’ $222,000. None of Hobbs’ other opponents has raised more than $20,000.

U.S. House of Representatives

Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers plans to seek her 10th term in Congress representing Eastern Washington.

McMorris Rodgers, who once served as House Republican Conference chair and is the current ranking member on the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, has never earned less than 55% of the popular general election vote during her 18 years in Congress.

Seeking to unseat McMorris Rodgers, according to fundraising filings, are a pair of Democrats: Natasha Hill and Ann-Marie Danimus.

Danimus, the owner of a marketing firm in Spokane Valley, has raised nearly $110,000 in support of her campaign, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Hill, an attorney, has raised a little more than $77,000.

McMorris Rodgers reports $3.6 million in contributions this campaign cycle.

No other candidates had filed with the FEC as of Thursday. The seat has drawn interest from independent and libertarian candidates in past primaries.

In Central Washington’s 4th District, Republican Dan Newhouse faces a host of challengers.

He’s up against Republicans Bradley Klippert, Corey Gibson, Loren Culp and Jerrod Sessler, as well as Democrat Doug White.

Newhouse is handily leading his opponents in campaign fundraising. He’s gathered $1.2 million, outpacing Sessler’s $456,000, White’s $231,000 and Culp’s $191,000.

U.S. Senate

Sen. Patty Murray is running once again.

Five candidates have filed with the FEC to run against her, although none of them has much name recognition: Democrats Robert Kirby and Nicolaus Sleister, Republicans Tiffany Smiley and Bob Hagglund, and independent Naz Paul will try to knock off Murray, who has been a senator since 1993.

Murray has $11.7 million in campaign funds. Smiley has raised $4.2 million. None of the other Senate hopefuls have mustered more than $14,000.

Reporter Emma Epperly contributed to this story.

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