Editor’s note: This is a live account of the primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent local politics news.
Voting for the Aug. 4 Washington state primary has officially ended and we’re posting results as they become available. Check back over the course of the evening for more information.
Washington’s top-two primary — sometimes called a jungle primary — pits all candidates for a particular race against one another, regardless of political party. The two with the most votes advance to the general election Nov. 3.
Simmons, a formerly incarcerated attorney, leads in Kitsap County representative race
Tarra Simmons, an attorney and civil rights activist, was leading in the primary race for Kitsap County's 23rd Legislative District in Tuesday's ballot returns.
If elected in the November general election, Simmons, a Democrat, would be the first Washington state lawmaker who was previously incarcerated. Simmons served 20 months in prison for drug and theft convictions and was released in 2013.
Simmons had 45% of the vote, followed by Republican April Ferguson, who had 34%. Democrat Leslie Daugs was in third with 16% of the vote. The winner in November will replace Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo.
Read more about Simmons here.
In Missouri, longtime Rep. Clay ousted after 20 years in Congress
Cori Bush, a onetime homeless woman who led protests following a white police officer’s fatal shooting of a Black 18-year-old in Ferguson, ousted longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay Tuesday in Missouri’s Democratic primary, ending a political dynasty that has spanned more than a half-century.
Bush’s victory came in a rematch of 2018, when she failed to capitalize on a national Democratic wave that favored political newcomers such as Bush’s friend, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
But this time around, Bush’s supporters said protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis and outrage over racial injustice finally pushed her over the edge.
Bush’s primary win essentially guarantees her a seat in Congress representing the heavily Democratic St. Louis area. Missouri’s 1st Congressional District has been represented by Clay or his father for a half-century. Bill Clay served 32 years before retiring in 2000. William Lacy Clay, 64, was elected that year.
Read the full story here.
Ferguson with big lead in Washington attorney general's race, Larkin looks to advance
Incumbent Bob Ferguson held a big lead in early ballot returns Tuesday over a field of Republican challengers in the primary race for Washington state attorney general.
Ferguson, a Democrat and vocal critic of the Trump administration, had garnered well over half the vote after early counts. Attorney Matt Larkin was running a distant second, but firmly ahead of Republicans Brett Rogers and Mike Vaska in the race to advance to November's general election.
Full story, from reporter Dahlia Bazzaz, here.
Inslee's election-night vote share up from 2016 primary, Culp celebrates at 'Insubordinate Victory'
Gov. Jay Inslee’s election-night vote share of 52% was up from his primary performance four years ago, when he received 49% of the vote in an 11-candidate field. He was running at 70% support in Tuesday’s vote count in King County.
Small-town police Chief Loren Culp received about 17%, with initiative sponsor Tim Eyman and former Bothell Mayor Joshua Freed at about 7% each. Yakima physician Raul Garcia took 5% and state Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, had about 4%.
Culp celebrated the election results at an “Insubordinate Victory” rally on a Leavenworth meadow with four live bands playing to a crowd of supporters.
Culp rose from anonymity to prominence among conservatives after publicly declaring he would not enforce Initiative 1639 in Republic, Washington, the 2018 voter-approved initiative that placed new restrictions on gun-buying and storage.
His primary campaign, which raised more than $1.2 million, spent little on traditional advertising, relying instead on crowded rallies, 12,000 yard signs and an enthusiastic following on social media, where his live video streams consistently draw big audiences.
Read the full story here.
Some incumbents trail narrowly in key Washington Senate races
At least four incumbents trailed narrowly Tuesday in a handful of key legislative races that could change the dynamics of the Washington state Senate.
In Tuesday night’s primary elections results, Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, was trailing Democratic challenger and University Place School Board member T’wina Nobles in Pierce County’s 28th Legislative District, 49% to 51%.
In the 10th District, newly-appointed GOP Sen. Ron Muzzall of Oak Harbor trailed Democratic challenger Helen Price Johnson, 49% to 51%.
In an intraparty battle in King County’s 5th District, incumbent Democrat Mark Mullet of Issaquah narrowly trailed Ingrid Anderson, a Democrat challenging him from the left, 47% to 48.4%.
Also, in Southwest Washington’s 19th District, incumbent Democratic Sen. Dean Takko of Longview has 46% of the vote, while two GOP challengers seeking to oust him collected a majority.
Those closely watched races this election cycle come as voters choose candidates for the state Legislature across Washington.
State lands commissioner Franz leads in Tuesday's primary election results
Incumbent Hilary Franz and Sue Kuehl Pederson were leading in Tuesday night’s primary election returns to become Washington state’s next public lands commissioner. Franz, a Democrat, had nearly 52% of the initial vote count and Kuehl Pederson, a Republican, had garnered almost 22%.
If the leads hold as more ballots are counted in the coming days, both will advance to November’s general election.
The public lands commissioner heads the state Department of Natural Resources, which is responsible for the management of 5.6 million acres of Washington’s forest, range, agricultural, aquatic and commercial lands.
The commissioner leads state efforts in preparing for and suppressing wildfire, plays a key role in adapting state lands to climate change and leads DNR in producing funds for counties and schools through management of state lands.
Read the full story here.
Wyman, Tarleton hold big early leads in race for Secretary of State
Incumbent Kim Wyman and Rep. Gael Tarleton held big early leads in ballot returns Tuesday in the race for Washington state’s Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State’s office is responsible for registering voters and overseeing Washington state’s elections. The office also registers businesses and nonprofits and manages the state archives and library. After lieutenant governor, the position is next in the line of succession for the governorship.
The statewide office has been the subject of attention recently as President Donald Trump seeks to discredit mail-in voting (the Washington state Legislature instituted statewide vote-by-mail in 2011), as foreign actors seek to influence or tamper with election results and as COVID-19 disrupts voting processes nationwide.
Wyman, who has served in the statewide office since her election in 2012, has been a vocal proponent of vote-by-mail and has worked to tighten election security. Russian hackers in 2016 targeted each state’s voting systems, according to a bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report.
Incumbent Reykdal, Espinoza lead state schools superintendent race
Incumbent Chris Reykdal and Maia Espinoza led in Tuesday night’s election returns in the race for state schools chief, capturing 42% and 23.86% of the vote, respectively.
If their lead holds, they will advance to the general election in November. Whoever is successful will supervise the financial, legal and academic welfare of some 300 school districts across the state, earning about $140,000 annually. They will guide superintendents around the state through an unprecedented time in public education, when nearly half of public school students in the state could be learning online.
Candidate Ron Higgins followed closely behind Espinoza, with 19.26% of the votes.
The race to-date has been reflective of the culture wars raging in public education. Though it is a nonpartisan office, Reykdal’s opponents have mostly conservative policy views, running campaigns that opposed the statewide closure of schools due to the coronavirus and the progressive causes Reykdal championed, including mandatory sex education.
Read the full story here.
Democrats Heck and Liias lead in Washington's lieutenant governor's race
Denny Heck was leading the primary election to become Washington’s next lieutenant governor in ballot returns reported Tuesday night, and Marko Liias was in second place. Both are Democrats.
Nine other candidates, including Republicans Ann Sattler and Marty McClendon, trailed Heck and Liias in the crowded, statewide race. The top two vote-getters in the primary will advance to the Nov. 3 general election.
Statewide general elections almost never pit candidates from the same party against each other, though two Republicans did compete for treasurer in 2016. Now Heck and Liias could face off in November.
This year’s race for lieutenant governor was thrown wide open when the incumbent, Cyrus Habib, announced he would join the Society of Jesus religious order rather than run for reelection.
Washington’s lieutenant governor, one of nine statewide elected officials, presides over the state Senate when the Legislature is in session.
Marilyn Strickland leads in 10th District congressional race
Former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland led with 21% of the vote on primary election night in the crowded race to replace Rep. Denny Heck in Washington’s only open race for Congress.
Democrats appeared poised to face off against each other in the November general election.
State Rep. Beth Doglio was in second with 14% and former state Rep. Kristine Reeves was in third with 13% as several candidates were clustered near the top in the race for the 10th Congressional District, representing Olympia and south Puget Sound.
All three women are Democrats. Ballots will continue to be counted in the days ahead and the top two candidates, regardless of party, will face off in November.
Read the full story here.
Gov. Jay Inslee leads primary election results
Gov. Jay Inslee coasted to an easy first-place finish in the Aug. 4 primary, with small-town police Chief Loren Culp running a distant second place, but well ahead of other Republican challengers.
In Tuesday’s count of votes, Inslee took 52% to lead the 36-candidate primary field. His nearest Republican challenger, Culp was in second place with 16.4%.
Culp, the police chief of Republic, a town of about 1,100 in Ferry County, ran a campaign vowing non-compliance with Inslee’s executive orders on mask-wearing and large gatherings, contending they were unconstitutional infringements on liberty.
Secretary of State's Office spokeswoman Kylee Zabel said the volume of gubernatorial candidates caused a temporary graphical error, which delayed the results being posted as intended in the visual display. This only affected the Governor’s race.
Kansas GOP picks Rep. Marshall for Senate seat over Kobach
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Republicans on Tuesday nominated Rep. Roger Marshall for the Senate instead of polarizing conservative Kris Kobach, heeding the party establishment’s advice for keeping a normally safe seat out of play in what could be a difficult year for the GOP.
Marshall prevailed in a crowded GOP primary field with the backing of major farm, business and anti-abortion groups but without an endorsement from President Donald Trump sought by Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and others for the two-term congressman for western and central Kansas. Marshall overcame Kobach’s reputation as both an informal adviser to Trump and reputation as a conservative firebrand.
Many Republicans’ fears about Kobach fueled ad campaigns that cost at least $15 million, with most of the spending by political action committees. Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, is nationally known for advocating restrictive immigration policies and alienated independent and moderate GOP voters in losing the Kansas governor’s race in 2018.
The race for retiring four-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts’ seat had national implications even though the GOP hasn’t lost a Senate contest in Kansas since 1932. Republicans are trying to keep their 53-47 Senate majority with competitive races in other states, including Arizona, Colorado and Maine.
Read the full story here.
Election Day voter turnout higher than in 2016
Voter turnout for the 2020 primary election in Washington is higher than the turnout recorded on Election Day in 2016, with 34.3% of ballots received as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
In 2016, 23.2% of votes were received by 5 p.m. on Election Day, though that number increased to 35% as more ballots came in each day. There are 4.61 million voters across Washington, an increase of about 400,000 voters from 2016, according to the Secretary of State.
The percentage of ballots received as of 5 p.m. was between 30 and 33% in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. With 2,713 total voters, Columbia County in the southeastern part of the state had the highest turnout rate so far, with 56% of its ballots received.
Ballots continue to come in for two weeks after the election. Anticipating a possible late surge, Secretary of State Kim Wyman's office has been advising counties to prepare for turnout as high as 60% or 70%, said spokesperson Kylee Zabel.
Michigan’s primary election sees a surge in absentee voting
As Michigan, one of five states holding primaries, set a record on Tuesday for the number of absentee ballots returned, a steady stream of cars was pulling up next to the Detroit Department of Elections headquarters to drop off hundreds more.
By Monday, more than two million voters statewide had requested absentee ballots for the primary, but only 1.3 million had been returned. By 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, that number had risen to more than 1.5 million. The state’s previous record was in 2016, when 1.3 million absentee ballots were cast.
Voting rights activists in Michigan noted that while there had not been any large-scale voting meltdowns, like in Georgia’s primary in June, voters were still struggling with what have become somewhat common issues during the pandemic: delayed mail, missing absentee ballots, poll worker shortages and shuttered voting locations.
Read the full update here.
Despite polling, Eyman says he'll celebrate victory this evening
Initiative promoter Tim Eyman is making his first run as a political candidate in Washington's race for governor. But despite – or because of – his high name identification among voters, he has not surged to any clear lead in polling, fundraising or endorsements in the GOP gubernatorial field.
On Tuesday, Eyman was waving signs at a Bellevue intersection he calls his “lucky spot,” because he waved signs there before his most recent initiative, I-976, was approved by voters. That measure targets Sound Transit taxes, seeking to roll back unpopular car tab fees.
True to form, Eyman said he’ll be giving a victory speech at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday night – before ballot totals are released. In an interview Monday, Eyman said he’s the only candidate who can unite the GOP field, saying he’s focused on attacking Gov. Jay Inslee, and not the other GOP candidates, like Loren Culp and Joshua Freed.
“I am the only candidate who is thinking outside the box, who is trying to unify,” Eyman said. “United, we’ve got a shot. Divided we have no chance.”
He said he even asked the other candidates to hold a joint election night party to celebrate whichever candidate is the winner – but no one agreed to do it, so he’s hosting a party at the home of a GOP activist in Kenmore.
Despite his braggadocio, Eyman conceded he has no idea how Tuesday’s vote will turn out. “It’s the weirdest election cycle I have ever been involved with in 22 years,” he said.
Curious about mail-in voting? Washington has used the system for years
Tens of millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail for the first time this fall, as pandemic-stricken states look to safeguard what John Lewis, the late congressman and civil rights leader, called in a final essay “the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society.”
For Washington voters, sticking a ballot in the mail or a drop box is old hat — a system that has been the default for a decade and which has recently expanded to become postage-free.
But because much of the 2020 election revolves around President Donald Trump, what might seem a common-sense shift has become sharply politicized.
Trump for months has tried to sow distrust about the November election — and mail voting in particular — as he sags in national and swing-state polling that shows dissatisfaction with his performance dealing with COVID-19 and the related economic collapse.
Read the full story here.
A first-time voter, an Inslee supporter and a candidate's mom walk up to a Queen Anne drop box
When dropping off his ballot in Queen Anne Tuesday, Mark Summer, 18, said the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic and his support for the Black Lives Matter movement drew most of his attention this campaign season.
Summer talked to his father and consulted multiple sources of endorsements for each candidate, spending time Monday night and Tuesday morning doing research.
“This is my first time ever voting,” said Summer, who graduated this year from Ballard High School and will attend the University of Washington this fall. “I tried to approach it the right way.”
Ashlee Thomas, 31, who works at Seattle Pacific University, cited social issues, the environment and closing education achievement gaps -- a challenge she said has been exacerbated by the pandemic -- as the most important issues to her this election. The pandemic response also factored into how she thought about voting.
“Jay Inslee is doing the best he can with what he’s been given,” said Thomas, adding she believes Washington has handled the pandemic better than many other states.
Sporting a mask with blue and red stars, Martha Reyneveld -- mother of candidate Sarah Reyneveld, who's running for state representative as a Democrat in the 36th legislative district -- expressed pride in her daughter's election bid after casting her ballot.
"She's been working so hard," Reyneveld said. "She's an amazing candidate no matter what happens."
Racial injustice, pandemic factor into some Central District voters' decisions
Tippy Revell recorded a video on his phone as he slid his ballot into the drop box at the Central District Community Center Tuesday afternoon. The Central District resident wanted to document his support for his uncle, who is running as a 37th Legislative District state House candidate.
Revell, a semi-regular voter, said it was especially important to vote in this election amid the pandemic and ongoing protests against racial injustice.
“I wanted to make sure my voice is heard,” said Revell.
UX designer Molly Adair dropped off her ballot in the Central District during her lunch break from home. Originally from Rhode Island, Adair appreciates the ease of voting by mail or a drop box instead of in person. She's glad that Washington, unlike other states, had already implemented vote by mail years before the pandemic.
“It makes me really grateful to live in Washington,” said Adair.
The pandemic has changed the way that people are voting nationally, and Central District resident Taylor Johnson believes online voting would make elections even easier.
“From a convenience standpoint, it would be nice to have an online component if they could verify a person’s identity,” said Johnson, a mergers and acquisitions consultant.
At a Ballard drop box, coronavirus weighs on voters' choices
Coronavirus factored heavily into the decisions of some Ballard residents casting ballots during Tuesday’s primary.
“I thought a lot about the pandemic when filling out my ballot,” said Kimi Rutledge, 23. “We have people in my office who have worked hard to implement measures to keep people safe. I think Jay Inslee has been doing a good job and putting in a lot of effort. I did a lot of research of some of the other candidates to see where they stood on responding (to the pandemic), so it really was a factor for me.”
Shortly before 11 a.m., a steady stream of voters, mostly masked, dropped off ballots in the drop box in front of the Seattle Public Library branch in Ballard at Northwest 57th Street and 22nd Avenue Northwest. A masked Seattle police officer stood guard at the nearby entrance to the library -- closed to the public, other than for access to a public restroom.
Aziz Khan, 36, said he felt “a degree of increased importance” for local races on the primary ballot, given the pandemic and recent civil unrest with policing.
In particular, Khan said he weighed how local officials have responded to the pandemic when voting.
“I’d like to say I used a `don’t switch horses in midstream’ mentality,” Khan said. “I think Seattle’s response has been better than most communities. That definitely weighed on me.”
In Kansas, Republicans vote in Senate primary, and establishment GOP fears a Kobach win
Republicans in Kansas will decide Tuesday whether to nominate a little-known congressman considered the safe choice by the establishment or a conservative firebrand who pursued issues such as voter fraud that animate President Donald Trump’s base, setting the stage for an unusually competitive Senate race there.
Republican Rep. Roger Marshall and former Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach are the leading candidates to win the GOP nomination for the seat of retiring Sen. Pat Roberts – a seat that Republicans have held, without much of a contest, for more than 100 years. While Trump has waded into other congressional primaries at the behest of party leaders, he has stayed curiously silent in this primary despite a furious effort by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to block Kobach, who lost the governor’s race in 2018 and has worried the GOP that he would put the seat in greater jeopardy.
These establishment figures fear that Kobach would take the most reliably Republican seat in the Senate – by the end of this year, the GOP will have held it for 152 of the 160 years it has existed – and put it in peril in a general-election season in which Republicans are playing defense in four times as many races as the Democrats.
Kansas is one of five states holding primary elections Tuesday, with Democratic voters in Michigan and Missouri refereeing the latest disputes between the younger, far-left activists pushing for a more ideologically aggressive Congress as opposed to an older, more establishment-friendly liberal base.
Read the full story here.
U-District voters express confidence in the system
A steady stream of voters jammed their ballots into a University District drop box at lunchtime Tuesday, some strolling past and others pulling up on bikes and scooters.
Karen Moe, a 68-year-old University of Washington administrator, has been following the national debate about voting by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The No. 1 thing I've been thinking about is how grateful I am that we have secure, mail-in voting that works well," said the Fremont resident, a political independent who often finds herself supporting Democrats. "I've been thinking about that more than the candidates on the ballot."
Luke Gibson, 27, a UW graduate student, said he almost forgot to vote. He was sick with COVID-19 earlier this year and has moved twice recently, so he said his mind mostly has been elsewhere.
But he found his ballot in his backpack Monday night and consulted his union's endorsements while filling it out. Gibson said he's become a more frequent voter since moving to Seattle four years ago, partly because voting by mail and drop box is easier.
Another UW administrator, who declined to give his name because he didn't want his politics shared on the Internet, said he was voting for the first time, having become an American citizen last year.
"I consider myself to the left, but I'm concerned with how the extremes on both sides are getting the attention," he added. "I'm a big supporter of Black Lives Matter but ... I don't believe in defunding the police."
At the Central District drop box: "Jay and a bunch of clowns"
Outside the Garfield Community Center, in Seattle's Central District, some voters said it was hard to drum up excitement for their choices on the ballot this primary.
Aaron Bossett, a cannabis advocate who lives in the area, called voting this primary election "depressing."
Bossett said he tried not to vote for any white men, with the exception of Gov. Jay Inslee, the Democratic incumbent whom Bossett picked based on the field of challengers. Bossett said the governor hasn't been aggressive enough on systemic racism, pointing to the education system and the state's policy for issuing cannabis sale licenses, which requires a criminal background check.
"There was nothing on there that represents any change," said Bossett, 46. "It was between Jay (Inslee) and a bunch of clowns."
One race had candidates that did excite him: the 37th legislative district's state House race. Bossett said he knows two of the contest's Democratic candidates, Chukundi Salisbury and Kirsten Harris-Talley -- but wouldn't share who he voted for.
Both Bossett and another voter, 23-year-old Kathy McIntosh, shared dismay at the state of national politics and the presidential election. They both picked Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic party's nominee.
"The party division has been insane," said McIntosh, who identified as left-leaning. "The leadership of both parties aren't listening to their constituents."
The most important issues to her are policing and climate change.
When asked who they'd vote for in the presidential election, McIntosh quickly said, "Biden." Bossett said he hadn't made up his mind yet.
"I don't know, none of the above? I want to be as far away as possible from Trump, but he's the result of Biden's policies, like the War on Drugs," he said, predicting that 2020 would be the last year of voting in a two-party system.
At a Beacon Hill drop box, voters cite pandemic, police issues
Melissa Cabal, turning in her ballot at the drop box by the Beacon Hill library, near the Tippe and Drague Ale House, which she owns, said she used to love standing in line with her neighbors to vote. But she said that in-person voting is harder for many people of color and poor people, who may have inflexible jobs that don’t allow them time to stand in line.
Despite doubts raised by President Donald Trump about mail-in voting, she said it seems perfectly safe to her. “I don’t think there’s ever been any indication otherwise.”
The governor’s race is of particular interest to Cabal. She said she is very happy with Gov. Jay Inslee, whose stay-home order initially meant a transition at her ale house to takeout ordering, stepped up to socially distanced dining. “He’s done a really amazing job trying to speak to all people and be patient and kind about it,” even when attacked for his restrictions, she said.
Scooting up to the Beacon Hill drop-off point, 6-year-old Ashley Schloss turned in a ballot for her dad, Mike Schloss, walking alongside. “I really want to save animals at this time,” she said. The family donates to animal conservation causes, her dad said.
He has been paying attention to the debate around defunding police. “I haven’t figured out the complete issue and what makes the most sense,” said the counselor at the University of Washington, who works with students who have experienced homelessness or come from the foster system. But he’s in favor of transferring some functions to social service providers trained to deal with mental health and other problems without provoking violence.
Not only does Schloss feel mail-in voting is safe, he’d like to go one step further and institute online voting, which he said would make people feel even more comfortable during the pandemic because they could vote from home.
Turnout is strong so far
Voter turnout in Washington state is running ahead of four years ago — but that's not a terribly high hurdle.
In 2016, just 35% of voters participated in the August primary. As of this Monday, turnout was trending 10 percentage points higher, with nearly 1.3 million ballots — accounting for about 28% of registered voters — already received by elections officials.
Anticipating a possible late surge, Secretary of State Kim Wyman's office has been advising counties to prepare for turnout as high as 60% or 70%, said spokesperson Kylee Zabel.
In King County, elections officials were projecting turnout of 43%. So far, ballots have been arriving slightly slower than the county expected, but many voters wait until the last day to drop off ballots, said Halei Watkins, a spokesperson for King County Elections.
In addition to its Renton headquarters, King County Elections has opened a voting center at CenturyLink Field Event Center for anyone who needs to register at the last minute, or pick up a replacement ballot.
Both locations are open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
President Trump changes his tune on mail-in ballots
The New York Times reports that President Trump, who only a day ago suggested he could restrict voting by mail through executive fiat, reversed course on Tuesday, urging his supporters in Florida to request mail-in ballots as some polls show him trailing in the pandemic-racked battleground state.
“Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!”
Mr. Trump’s caustic public denunciation of the mail-in voting system has chafed many Republicans who see his statements as likely to cost him support among older voters, many of whom may rely on mail-in ballots to avoid going to polling stations during the pandemic. Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, and other party leaders, have said mail-in voting can work as long as anti-fraud measures are in place.
Read the complete New York Times story.
The governor's race
Today's marquee contest is also the most crowded, as 35 candidates filed to challenge Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee's to become the state's first three-term governor since Republican Dan Evans in 1972.
Five Republicans have emerged as likely top contenders, all highly critical of Inslee's orders shutting down businesses and mandating mask-wearing to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The only household name is longtime anti-tax initiative sponsor Tim Eyman, running for political office for the first time. But his name identification has not translated into a clear lead in polling.
Loren Culp, the police chief of Republic, Ferry County, known for declaring he won't enforce a voter-passed gun-control initiative, has shown momentum and is barnstorming the state with a series of in-person political rallies.
Another newcomer, Raul Garcia, an emergency room doctor from Yakima, has positioned himself as a comparative moderate, landing endorsements from GOP stalwarts including Evans and former Attorney General Rob McKenna.
Former Bothell Mayor Joshua Freed has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money into his campaign and says he can bring together a coalition to defeat Inslee.
State Sen. Phil Fortunato of Auburn is the only elected official among the major GOP contenders and says his experience in the state Capitol would make him better positioned to hit the ground running as governor.
Other races to watch
*Lieutenant Governor. Cyrus Habib's surprise decision to leave politics for a religious order has left a crowded open-seat race with 11 candidates. The two most prominent Democrats are U.S. Rep. Denny Heck of the Olympia area’s 10th Congressional District and state Sen. Marko Liias of Lynnwood. Top Republicans include Ann Davison Sattler, a former Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for Seattle City Council in 2019, and Marty McClendon, the GOP candidate who ran against Habib in 2016.
*Attorney General. Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, is also seeking a third term. Three Republican attorneys are competing to face him in November: Mike Vaska, a moderate GOP leader and longtime business attorney; Matt Larkin, an attorney for his family manufacturing business; and Brett Rogers, a lawyer and former Seattle police officer.
*10th Congressional District. Heck's retirement in the 10th Congressional District has spurred a 19-candidate primary scrum. Democrats looking to succeed him include former state Rep. Kristine Reeves; state Rep. Beth Doglio and former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, as well as socialist truck driver Joshua Collins and former Heck aide Phil Gardner. Nancy Dailey Slotnick, 56, an Army veteran and security consultant, is the leading Republican in the race.
Early morning voters line up on Beacon Hill
At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, two workers from King County Elections pulled up to a drop-box at the Beacon Hill Branch of the Seattle Public Library and started emptying it. As they did, a steady stream of voters stood waiting with more ballots.
Di Chuc, 37, has never voted before. But recent events in the city, and their effects on her family, made voting feel necessary.
As a telemetry technician at the Seattle Veterans Administration Medical Center on Beacon Hill, she has seen the impact of the pandemic first-hand.
Her father is a cook at the King County Youth Detention Center on 12th Avenue, where protesters set fire to construction trailers a few weeks ago.
“When I heard about the trailers, I freaked out,” she said. “I heard they were burning cars. I just had no words.”
And her family owns the MeeKong Bar in downtown Seattle, where protests -- and some bent on destruction -- were never far away, and where business was already hurting.
“It’s all hit home for me,” Chuc said. “My dad’s work and me working in the hospital. The restaurant.
“The craziness of Seattle. The protesting, the rioting,” she said. “We didn’t know how it would go. My parents are there, my sisters. We have employees. We didn’t want them to be in danger.
“I’m just hoping things will change.”
McKenzie Riepen, 31, has been dropping her ballot off at this location for years, but feels this election more deeply.
“This is such an imperative vote,” said Riepen, a yoga instructor. “We’re learning how to express our voice, and I wanted to do that.”
She’s been teaching yoga classes online during the pandemic.
“It’s a bit of a roller coaster,” she said. “But it’s also a bit of a blessing, because people need yoga. Even online.”
Jerry Corso, 58, owner of Bar Del Corso, dropped his ballot off on his way to his restaurant.
“I just feel more secure dropping it off myself,” he said.
His restaurant has been serving takeout and now takes reservations for limited indoor and patio dining.
“My standard answer is that I’m doing OK,” Corso said. “We’re floating along, but it’s been a strange kind of reset. I get to have a garden and a little more time away from work. It’s helped me step back and look at the whole picture.”
He thinks this primary is important, “But I am waiting for November. I am participating because that’s what we need to do.
“But we need it to be a landslide in November.”
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