Washington’s 2020 election season kicks off officially this week, as candidates for governor, Congress, the Legislature and other elected offices must file paperwork to get on the Aug. 4 primary ballot.
The candidate-filing period opens Monday morning and runs until 4 p.m. Friday for those filing online with the Secretary of State, and 5 p.m. for anyone filing in person with the office.
Like every other aspect of life, the rules for filing week have been altered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed an emergency order May 5 waiving a signature requirement for candidates who don’t want to pay filing fees normally required to run for office. Those fees are typically 1% of the salary of the office being sought, which amounts to $1,822 for those running for governor, for example, and $528 for legislative positions.
In the past, candidates who didn’t want to pay the fees could submit signatures from a number of registered voters equal to the dollar amount of the filing fee. Inslee’s order waiving the signature requirement noted that it would be difficult to do “without the person-to-person contact currently prohibited” by his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.
A brutal 2020 national campaign, centered on President Donald Trump’s reelection fight with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, will have echoes in Washington. While filing week will make the candidate fields official, some races have been shaping up for months as candidates have been raising money and lining up endorsements.
After a fizzled bid for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, Inslee is seeking to become Washington’s first three-term governor since Republican Dan Evans won a third term in 1972. As he navigates the coronavirus crisis, Inslee has become a nationally known critic of Trump’s response, drawing the president’s public ire.
All of Inslee’s leading Republican rivals have confirmed their support for Trump and have taken part in protests or lawsuits challenging Inslee’s stay-home order.
While they’ll make it official — or not — this week, those challengers who have been raising money and campaigning include: initiative promoter Tim Eyman; former Bothell Mayor Joshua Freed; state Sen. Phil Fortunato, of Auburn; Loren Culp, the police chief of Republic, Ferry County; and Anton Sakharov, a Maple Valley program manager. The last Republican elected governor in Washington was John Spellman in 1980.
Neither of Washington’s U.S. senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, are on the ballot this year. But all 10 of the state’s U.S. House seats are up, with Democrats looking to protect or expand their majority in the chamber, and Republicans hoping to reverse their fortunes.
Democrats now hold seven of the state’s U.S. House seats, and the party is looking to add another, targeting Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. Challenger Carolyn Long, a political-science professor, lost to Herrera Beutler two years ago, and is seeking a rematch.
Meanwhile, an open-seat race looms in the state’s Olympia-area 10th Congressional District, where Rep. Denny Heck is retiring, but has announced a bid for lieutenant governor. That race already has drawn a crowded field of Democrats and Republicans.
Washington’s other statewide executive positions also are up for reelection, including the lieutenant governor seat being vacated by Democrat Cyrus Habib, who announced he will leave politics and join the Jesuit religious order.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman and state Treasurer Duane Davidson are the only Republican statewide elected officials in Washington. Both could face stiff challenges, with state Sen. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, already announcing a challenge to Wyman, and state Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, D-Federal Way, vastly outraising Davidson.
Two Democratic statewide elected officials who have eyed the governor’s office also are seeking reelection: Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is up for a sixth term. Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and State Auditor Pat McCarthy also are up for reelection.
In the state Legislature, all 98 state House positions are up, along with 26 state Senate seats. Democrats hold majorities in both chambers.
Four nonpartisan State Supreme Court seats are also before voters, as well as dozens of nonpartisan appellate court and Superior Court positions across the state.
To see who has filed for office throughout the week, view the Secretary of State’s list at voter.votewa.gov/CandidateList.aspx