The Nov. 3 general election presidential race pits President Donald Trump against former Vice President Joe Biden.
At the state level, Washingtonians will decide between two-term incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Loren Culp. Several other statewide posts are on the ballot. Among them: the contest for lieutenant governor, with two Democrats, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck and state Sen. Marko Liias, emerging from a crowded August primary. Current Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib decided not to seek reelection.
In the Washington Legislature, all 98 House seats and 26 of 49 Senate seats are up for election.
Below, you will find race-by-race summaries of contests on your ballot this year. Here’s more information to get you started:
- In Washington, the election is mail-only, though counties provide accessible voting centers for people who need assistance completing their ballots.
- Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, or put in a drop box or returned in person to your county elections department by 8 p.m. that day. Be sure to sign the ballot envelope.
- Ballots have prepaid postage. You don’t need a stamp to mail it to your county elections office.
- Oct. 26 is the last day to register to vote or update your information online or by mail. King County Elections will have Vote Centers open for those who need assistance or missed deadlines but ask that those who are able to utilize online tools do so.
- Where to find your local ballot drop box: King County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, Pierce County.
- More information: King County Elections, Snohomish County Elections, Kitsap County Elections, Pierce County Elections.
- Lieutenant governor
- Attorney general
- U.S. congressional races
- State Legislature
- Secretary of state
- Washington Supreme Court justice, Position #03
- Washington Supreme Court justice, Position #06
- Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
- Referendum Measure No. 90
- King County Proposition No. 1
- King County Charter Amendment No. 1
- King County Charter Amendment No. 5
- King County Charter Amendment No. 6
The race: Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, is challenging President Donald Trump in the most expensive campaign in American history. The two candidates differ on everything from how to handle the coronavirus — Trump has repeatedly said it will just disappear — to how to address climate change, health care, reproductive rights, gun violence and nearly every other conceivable issue.
Biden has ambitious plans to lower greenhouse gas emissions and wants to expand the Affordable Care Act with an option to buy a government-run insurance plan. Trump has repeatedly sought to roll back environmental regulations, and his administration is fighting in court to have the Affordable Care Act thrown out.
Biden has framed his campaign as a battle for the “soul of the nation,” against the racial divisiveness of Trump’s presidency. Trump has framed his campaign as one of “law and order,” with continuous remarks in opposition to social justice protests throughout the nation.
Key endorsements: Biden is endorsed by major unions including the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, AFSCME, SEIU and UAW as well as virtually every major Democratic official, including Gov. Jay Inslee, and nearly every major environmental group. He has the endorsement of the vast majority of newspaper editorial boards.
Trump has the endorsement of most police unions, including National Association of Police Organizations and the Fraternal Order of Police. He is endorsed by the National Rifle Association and by almost every major Republican elected official.
The Seattle Times editorial board has endorsed Joe Biden.
Fundraising: Biden’s campaign announced that it raised a record-breaking $383 million in September, besting the $364 million it raised in August, which had been a record. Trump’s campaign raised $248 million in September and $210 million in August
The race: Gov. Jay Inslee, the two-term incumbent Democrat seeking a third term, is facing Loren Culp, the police chief of Republic, Ferry County.
Inslee, a former congressman, is running on his and other lawmakers’ accomplishments in recent years, such as laws providing paid-family leave and long-term care benefits, and a court-ordered K-12 school-funding plan that ultimately resulted in raises for many teachers. The governor last year made a longshot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination with a focus on climate change, and has touted legislation passed in Olympia on that front, including a law that will eliminate fossil fuels from Washington’s power grid by 2045. Inslee broadly supports changes to law enforcement and officer accountability in the wake of protests over racism in policing.
But much of the campaign revolves around Inslee’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor implemented one of the nation’s strictest stay-home orders and has since been cautious in gradually restarting social activities and reopening businesses.
Culp, who rose to prominence in conservative circles by refusing to enforce a 2018 voter-approved gun-control initiative, is taking a similarly defiant position with regard to Inslee’s emergency COVID-19 orders, which have restricted businesses and gatherings and have required masks to slow the spread of the virus. Emphasizing personal liberty, Culp has downplayed the pandemic and held a constant stream of rallies with crowds not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Culp says that as governor he would end the COVID-19 mandates, allowing businesses and schools to reopen if they choose. Culp doesn’t believe systemic racism is a problem in policing or the U.S., and has said he’d crack down on anti-police protests in Seattle. He would also freeze state spending and opposes tax increases to fill an estimated $4 billion budget shortfall.
Key endorsements: Culp has been endorsed by Republican organizations and by GOP primary rivals including initiative sponsor Tim Eyman and state Sen. Phil Fortunato, as well as by the National Rifle Association and conservative activists including rock musician Ted Nugent and David Clarke Jr., the former sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Inslee has the backing of Democratic groups and lawmakers, Washington Conservation Voters, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, and former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
The Seattle Times editorial board has endorsed Gov. Jay Inslee.
Fundraising: Culp has raised about $2.4 million as of Oct. 15, with the vast bulk – more than $2.1 million – coming from individual contributors. Inslee has raised $7.3 million, with about $1.9 million of that coming from various Democratic Party groups.
The race: Two Democrats, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck and state Sen. Marko Liias are facing off after current Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib decided to become a Jesuit priest rather than seek reelection. Heck, a four-term congressman who in a long career in politics has also served in the state House and as a chief of staff for Gov. Booth Gardner, is basing his candidacy on his depth of experience. He says he wants to ensure that Olympia doesn’t see the demise in civil discourse that Washington D.C. has seen.
Liias, the Senate Democratic floor leader, favors progressive policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal and wants to use the lieutenant governor’s platform to advocate for “big, bold changes.”
There’s an outside chance the winner could become the next governor, if Gov. Jay Inslee were to be reelected and then accept a position in a potential Joe Biden administration.
Key endorsements: Heck has the support of former governors Chris Gregoire and Gary Locke and former Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen. Liias has been endorsed by Habib and by the vast majority of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate.
The Seattle Times editorial board has endorsed U.S. Rep. Denny Heck.
Fundraising: Heck had raised about $1 million, as of Oct. 14, but that includes $124,000 of his own money that he gave his campaign. Liias had raised about $287,000 as of Oct. 14.
The race: Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat and former King County Council member, is seeking a third term as the state’s chief legal officer. His Republican challenger, Matt Larkin, a first-time candidate, is general counsel for his family’s waterworks manufacturing company in Bothell.
Ferguson is touting his aggressive spate of lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s efforts to limit immigration, roll back environmental laws, slow down the Postal Service and invalidate the Affordable Care Act. His office has filed or joined 80 lawsuits, and has won 35 of 36 that have been decided. Ferguson also has greatly expanded the office’s consumer division, suing corporations including Comcast, which was ordered to pay more than $9 million in civil penalties over deceptive billing practices.
Larkin, who worked as a speechwriter in the George W. Bush White House and briefly as a Pierce County deputy prosecutor, is criticizing Ferguson over his Trump lawsuits, as well as focusing on crime, homelessness and violence at some protests in Seattle. While the Attorney General’s Office is limited in criminal cases – it can only take them on at the request of county prosecutors or the governor – Larkin says he’d emphasize that role, speaking out against lawlessness and working with local jurisdictions.
Key endorsements: Ferguson is endorsed by Democratic Party organizations, former Vice President Joe Biden, Washington Conservation Voters, and major unions including the Washington Education Association and the grocery workers union UFCW 21. Larkin has been endorsed by former state Attorney General Rob McKenna, former Congressman Dave Reichert, several county sheriffs, more than a dozen GOP state legislators and the Seattle Police Officers Guild.
The Seattle Times editorial board has endorsed Bob Ferguson.
Campaign contributions: Ferguson has raised about $4.1 million as of Oct. 14, including about $330,000 from lawyers. Larkin has raised about $416,000, including $75,000 of his own money.
U.S. congressional races
The races: In nine of Washington’s 10 congressional districts, incumbent members of the U.S. House are running for reelection. All of them are favored. The closest of these nine races could be in the 3rd Congressional District, which covers Vancouver and Southwest Washington, where Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler faces Democratic challenger Carolyn Long. Herrera Beutler is the only Republican House member from a district on the continental West Coast. Herrera Beutler has said she did not vote for President Donald Trump in 2016 but will vote for him this year.
Washington’s 10th Congressional District, centered on Olympia, is an open seat this year, after Democratic Rep. Denny Heck chose not to seek reelection. The race pits two Democrats against each other — former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and state Rep. Beth Doglio. Strickland, who won a crowded primary, is a pro-business candidate who favors more incremental changes, including adding a public health insurance option to the Affordable Care Act. Doglio is more progressive and favors more ambitious policy changes, such as a Green New Deal and Medicare for All.
Key endorsements: In the 3rd District, Republicans have lined up behind Herrera Beutler and Democrats behind Long. In the 10th District, former Washington governors Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke have endorsed Strickland. Doglio has the endorsement of U.S. senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
See The Seattle Times editorial board endorsements for congressional races.
Campaign contributions: Through the end of September, Herrera Beutler had raised about $3.9 million, while Long had raised about $3.5 million. Strickland had raised about $1.4 million, including $50,000 of her own money, and Doglio had raised about $1.2 million.
Strickland, whose campaign literature said she would not accept money from corporate PACs, has since accepted more than $30,000 from corporate PACs, including Boeing, Pfizer and Nike. Doglio has pledged not to take money from corporate PACs. She has been boosted by more than $500,000 in outside spending from the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, led by Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal.
The races: All 98 House seats and 26 of the Senate’s 49 seats are up for election. With Democrats currently holding sizable House and Senate majorities, this year’s election results are unlikely to shift the balance of power in a major way.
In King County’s 5th District, moderate Democratic Sen. Mark Mullet of Issaquah is locked in a tight race against progressive Democrat Ingrid Anderson.
In the 28th District, Democratic challenger and University Place School Board member T’wina Nobles seeks to unseat Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place. In the 10th District, Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor faces a challenge by Democrat Helen Price Johnson.
Meanwhile, in Southwest Washington’s 19th District, moderate Sen. Dean Takko is trying to fend off a challenge from Republican Jeff Wilson.
In the House, a pair of longtime Democratic lawmakers are facing tough challenges from progressive challengers. In the 43rd District, Rep. Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, faces Sherae Lascelles of the Seattle Peoples Party. In the 11th District, Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, faces Democrat David Hackney.
Key endorsements: In the 5th District, Anderson has garnered the support of labor unions and Gov. Jay Inslee, while Mullet has been endorsed by a host of mayors and school board members in the district, as well as its two Democratic House members, Lisa Callan and Bill Ramos.
Campaign contributions: In the 5th District, outside groups have spent more than $1 million to support Anderson, who as of Oct. 14 had raised $188,000. Mullet had raised about $390,740 and received about half a million dollars in support from outside groups.
Washington secretary of state
The race: Two-term incumbent Kim Wyman, a Republican, is facing a challenge by Democratic state Rep. Gael Tarleton of Seattle.
The office is perhaps most key for overseeing the state vote-by-mail elections system, which has been a major focus of 2020 as President Donald Trump seeks to discredit mail balloting as he trails in the polls.
Wyman is running on her long experience as a state and local elections official, and highlighting her efforts to keep voting secure from foreign hacking attempts since 2016, and her work during this year’s slowdown in the mail by the U.S. Postal Service.
Tarleton has contended that Wyman hasn’t done enough to make sure Washington is protected against election interference and hasn’t pushed back enough against Trump’s attacks on mail balloting.
Key Endorsements: Wyman has been endorsed by dozens of present and past election officials, including former secretaries of state Sam Reed, Ralph Munroe and Bruce Chapman, and current Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton, a Democrat. Tarleton is endorsed by dozens of Democratic elected officials, including Gov. Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.
The Seattle Times editorial board has endorsed Kim Wyman.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 13, Wyman had raised $884,880, according to state records, and Tarleton had raised $752,875.
Washington Supreme Court justice, Position #03
Candidate: Dave Larson
Experience: Federal Way Municipal Court presiding judge since 2008. Former Federal Way School Board member. Trial attorney for 23 years.
Contributions: Raised: $33,077; spent: $20,716. Key contributors: Businessman Bruce McCaw, $1,000; Washington State Republican Party, $634; Businessman Rufus Lumry, $2,000; Skagit County GOP, $500.
Sampling of endorsements: International Association of Machinists, Lodge 751 (Boeing machinists); Washington Farm Bureau; former Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed; Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones.
Campaign website: larsonforwa.com
Candidate: Raquel Montoya-Lewis
Experience: Former Whatcom County Superior Court judge. Former Chief Judge for the Lummi Nation, Upper Skagit and Nooksack Indian tribes. Former associate professor, Western Washington University
Contributions: Raised: $180,840; spent: $117,143. Key contributors: Washington Education Association, $2,000; former Justice Bobbe Bridge, $2,000; 11 Native American tribes, $19,500
Sampling of endorsements: Former governors Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke; Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp; retired Washington chief justices Mary Fairhurst and Gerry Alexander; all sitting Washington Supreme Court justices
The Seattle Times editorial board has endorsed Raquel Montoya-Lewis.
Campaign website: justicemontoyalewis.com
Washington Supreme Court justice, Position #06
Candidate: Richard S. Serns
Experience: Former Winlock School District superintendent; former teacher, principal and human resources administrator for the Federal Way and Issaquah school districts
Contributions: Raised: $2,726; spent: $2,202. Key contributors: Self-funded
Sampling of endorsements: None sought.
Campaign website: richardsernssc2020.com
Candidate: G. Helen Whitener
Experience: Former Pierce County Superior Court judge. Former pro-tem judge for Pierce County District Court and Tacoma Municipal Court. Former prosecutor, public defender and private defense attorney
Contributions: Raised: $70,396; spent: $11,704. Key contributors: attorney Vonda Sargent, $2,000; Washington Education Association, $2,000; SEIU 775 Quality Care Committee, $2,000; Washington Federation of State Employees, $2,000.
Sampling of endorsements: Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson; Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal; former Tacoma Mayor Bill Barsmaa; all sitting Washington Supreme Court justices
The Seattle Times editorial board has endorsed G. Helen Whitener.
Campaign website: www.justicehelenwhitener.com
Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
Race: Sex education and challenges with schooling during the pandemic are the biggest issues in this year’s race for state schools chief. Chris Reykdal, the incumbent and a former Democratic state lawmaker, is facing off against challenger Maia Espinoza, a former private school teacher and policy advocate who has never held a publicly elected office nor worked in a public school. Though it is a nonpartisan race, Espinoza has curried favor among conservatives who are fervently opposed to the sex education law that Reykdal helped champion, the fate of which will be decided based on the outcome of Referendum 90, also on the ballot this November.
Key endorsements: For Espinoza: Dozens of Republican state lawmakers including chief State Senate budget writer John Braun, Deputy Mayor of SeaTac Peter Kwon, State Treasurer Duane Davidson
Key endorsements: For Reykdal: Former state schools chief Randy Dorn, State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos (House Education Committee chair), State Senator Lisa Wellman (Senate Education Committee chair), the Washington Education Association
The Seattle Times editorial board has endorsed Chris Reykdal.
Campaign contributions: Reykdal raked in nearly $223,000 as of Oct. 13, outraising Espinoza, who received $166,000. Espinoza, however, has outspent the incumbent by nearly $100,000, spending $156,000. Reykdal top donors were labor organizations, Boeing and the Muckleshoot Tribe, while Espinoza’s were individual donors and a conservative PAC.
Referendum Measure No. 90
The issue: Washington voters will have a chance this November to decide whether schools should be required to teach comprehensive sexual health education — marking the first time such a measure has appeared on a statewide ballot. A vote to approve Referendum 90 will allow a law passed by the Legislature this spring to take effect.
The law mandates that districts provide age-appropriate information to all students starting in kindergarten: Young children would learn about topics such as finding trusted adults and making friends, while older children would learn about consent, sexual violence and other issues. Parents and guardians could opt children out of such classes. Supporters say a basic standard should be required statewide because all young people could benefit from information that helps them navigate relationships. Opponents say the law diminishes the power of local school communities; some object to topics covered in certain sex education curricula reviewed by state officials. If voters reject Referendum 90, districts would not be required to provide sexual health education to all students.
Key endorsements: The pro-sexual health campaign is supported by the Washington Education Association educators union and many other labor rights groups. Several Planned Parenthood chapters support the pro-campaign, and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii has spearheaded its efforts. Gov. Jay Inslee, state Superintendent Chris Reykdal and many Democratic lawmakers also support the campaign. The opposing campaign is supported by Healing the Culture and other anti-abortion organizations, as well as a few conservative family groups. The Washington State Republican Party, and the state’s House and Senate Republican caucuses, also support the opposing campaign.
The Seattle Times editorial board recommends voters approve of Referendum 90.
Campaign contributions: The pro-sexual health education campaign, known as Safe & Healthy Youth Washington, had raised $1.4 million as of Oct. 13. Its biggest donors include Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii and other Planned Parenthood affiliates, ACLU of Washington and the Washington Education Association. The opposing campaign, called Parents for Safe Schools, had raised more than $339,000 — a majority of which was spent to get the measure on the ballot. The campaign raised about $32,000 from donors who contributed a small amount; its largest donations came from The Reagan Fund and George Rowley, of Issaquah.
City of Seattle Proposition No. 1
The issue: Prop. 1 would continue and increase a sales tax that funds bus service and other transit-related programs in Seattle. The proposed .15% sales tax (15 cents on a $100 purchase) would replace an existing .1% sales tax and $60 car-tab fee and would last six years. The measure would not renew the car-tab fee. The tax would fund King County Metro bus routes that serve Seattle; transit passes for students and people with low incomes; road projects on transit routes; and transportation projects related to the West Seattle Bridge closure or COVID-19. A yes vote would enact the tax.
Key endorsements: Transportation advocacy groups, labor unions, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Seattle Association have endorsed the measure, as have Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and all nine Seattle City Council members. As of Oct. 9, no opposition campaign had registered with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. No one submitted an opposition statement to the King County voter guide.
The Seattle Times editorial board recommends voters approve Proposition 1.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 9, the campaign supporting the tax raised about $32,500. Vulcan, Jacobs Engineering Group, SEIU Local 775 and the SEIU Initiative Fund were top donors.
King County Proposition No. 1
The issue: Prop 1 would approve $1.74 billion in bonds to fund renovation and expansion projects at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and would authorize property-tax increases to repay the bonds over 20 years. Owned by the county and operated by UW Medicine, Harborview is the only Level 1 trauma and burn center in Washington. The projects would include a $925 million new medical tower with single-bed rooms, seismic upgrades, renovations to clinics and a new building dedicated to behavioral health. The average annual tax increase would be 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, and the owners of a home of median assessed value would pay about $75 per year, on average. The net impact would be less, because the new measure would replace a measure from 2000 that has cost about $13 per year, on average. Bond measures like Prop 1 must win 60% approval.
Key endorsements: Labor unions that represents hospital employees and construction workers have endorsed the measure, along with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the King County Medical Society, the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and numerous local Democratic Party groups. No one submitted an opposition statement for the King County voter guide.
The Seattle Times editorial board recommends voters approve King County Proposition No. 1.
Campaign contributions: As of Oct. 10, the campaign supporting Prop 1 had raised more than $790,000. Top donors included Susan Brotman, Michael Garvey, SEIU 1199NW, the Washington State Building and Trades Council and Microsoft.
King County Charter Amendment No. 1
The issue: King County Charter Amendment No. 1 would add language to the county’s charter that guarantees legal representation at inquests to the families of individuals killed by police, and clarifies that an inquest is required when an “action, decision, or possible failure to offer appropriate care by a member of a law enforcement agency might have contributed to a person’s death.” The language largely formalizes in the county charter issues that already have been decided via a King County ordinance, but does draw attention back to the county’s stalled inquest process.
The Seattle Times editorial board recommends voters approve King County charter amendment 1.
King County Charter Amendment No. 5
The issue: King County Charter Amendment No. 5 would make the King County sheriff an appointed, rather than elected position. The sheriff would be appointed by the county executive and approved by the County Council. The county sheriff was appointed from 1969 to 1996, but has been elected ever since. Supporters argue that making it an appointed position would de-politicize the office and allow for a broader search for the best candidate. Opponents argue that the sheriff should answer directly to the people.
Key endorsements: The County Council is nonpartisan, but the six council members who have identified as Democrats in the past voted to make sheriff an appointed position, while the three who have identified as Republicans voted to keep it as an elected position.
The Seattle Times editorial board recommends voters reject King County Charter Amendment No. 5.
Campaign contributions: An opposition campaign, urging a no vote, had raised more than $180,000 as of Oct. 12, with almost all of that money coming from the union that represents sheriff’s deputies. A campaign supporting a yes vote had raised $4,400 as of Oct. 12, including $3,500 from County Councilmember Rod Dembowski.
King County Charter Amendment No. 6
The Issue: King County Charter Amendment No. 6 would give the King County Council more authority over the Sheriff’s Office and the ability to alter or reduce the duties of the sheriff. It would also give the County Council the authority to combine the department of public safety with other county departments, but it could not be abolished.
Key endorsements: The County Council is nonpartisan, but the six council members who have identified as Democrats in the past voted give the council authority over the Sheriff’s Office, while the two votes against doing so came from council members who have identified as Republicans.
Campaign contributions: An opposition campaign, urging a no vote, had raised more than $180,000 as of Oct. 12, with almost all of that money coming from the union that represents sheriff’s deputies. A campaign supporting a yes vote had raised $4,400, as of Oct. 12, including $3,500 from County Councilmember Rod Dembowski.
2020 Election Resources
For more information about voting, ballot drop boxes, accessible voting and online ballots, contact your county elections office. Ballots are due by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
- King County: 206-296-8683 or st.news/vote-kingcounty
- Snohomish County: 425-388-3444 or st.news/vote-snocounty
- Kitsap County: 360-337-7128 or st.news/vote-kitsapcounty
- Pierce County: 253-798-8683 or st.news/vote-piercecounty
For more information on your ballot, in any county, go to: myvote.wa.gov
Voters’ guide for general election 202: voter.votewa.gov
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