Here are some highlights to watch for when results start to be announced Tuesday night in the state’s top-two primary.

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A top-tier congressional race being watched by political junkies around the nation. The latest struggle for control in Olympia, spurred by a record number of women candidates. The advent of prepaid postage on ballots.

Here are some highlights to watch for when results start to be announced Tuesday night in the state’s top-two primary.

Who faces Dino Rossi this fall?

Perhaps the most contested primary contest is in Washington’s nationally watched 8th Congressional District.

How to vote

The election is mail-only.

Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Aug. 7, put in a drop box or returned in person to your county elections department by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Be sure to sign the ballot envelope.

This year’s ballots are postage paid. You don’t need a stamp to mail it to your county’s elections office.

Get a ballot: If you lost your ballot or never received one, in King County go to or call 206-296-8683. In Snohomish County, email or call 425-388-3444. In Kitsap County, email or 360-337-7128.

Drop boxes: For locations, go to or


Seattle Times elections coverage

Voter guide from the Secretary of State

TVW’s video guide to the election

Endorsements from The Seattle Times’ editorial board

Three leading Democrats — all first-time candidates — have been locked in a competitive race to see who will emerge to take on presumptive Republican contender Dino Rossi.

Kim Schrier, an Issaquah pediatrician, has been viewed by some as the front-runner; she has raised the most money and been boosted by an additional $350,000-plus independent-spending effort by EMILY’s List, the national Democratic women-promoting powerhouse.

Another doctor, Shannon Hader, of Auburn, has muscled her way into contention, capturing a string of Democratic endorsements based in part on her résumé of government service, including global HIV director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Attorney and former deputy King County prosecutor Jason Rittereiser has emphasized Ellensburg roots, arguing he’s best suited to compete for votes with Rossi in the moderate district that spans the Cascade Mountains.

Rossi, meanwhile, has faced no serious Republican rivals and raised $3 million while awaiting his November opponent. Best known for three unsuccessful, statewide runs, he’s hoping for a win this time around in friendlier territory, including his longtime home in Sammamish.

Will prepaid ballots boost turnout?

For the first time, the state and King County are prepaying postage for voters, so the lack of a stamp will no longer be an excuse to shirk the civic duty. But it remains to be seen whether turnout is substantially higher than in past primaries.

As of Friday, about 18 percent of the state’s 4.3 million voters had returned ballots.

A U.S. Senate race scrum

Running for a fourth term, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell drew a heaping helping of 28 challengers. Most are little-known candidates, so Republican leaders are looking at former state GOP chair Susan Hutchison as their best shot.

While it’s dangerous to draw conclusions from primary totals, both parties will be eyeing and spinning Cantwell and Hutchison’s percentage votes after Tuesday.

Rep. Adam Smith is challenged from his left

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, seeking his 12th term in the 9th Congressional District — stretching from Bellevue through south Seattle to north Tacoma — meets most anyone’s definition of progressive. He favors national single-payer health care, tuition-free public college and a $15 minimum wage across the country.

But Smith is being challenged from the left by Sarah Smith, a 30-year-old first-time candidate who quit her job at a car dealership just weeks ago to campaign full time.

Smith models her campaign after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who shocked the political world with a primary win in New York City in June.

Can she pull off a similarly stunning upset here?

She points to Adam Smith’s eager acceptance of corporate campaign donations and his support for raising military funding as evidence that he’s a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to the progressive cause.

Adam Smith counters that, unlike his opponent, he has deep ties to the 9th District — has lived here all his life — and is the best person to represent it.

Balance of power in Olympia

Since 2013, neither Republicans or Democrats have controlled the 49-member state Senate by more than two votes.

The primary results are likely to offer clues to what might happen in a handful of potentially competitive districts as the two parties vie for power.

Democrats are targeting the 30th District, with Claire Wilson challenging Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, as well as the 26th District, which includes parts of Bremerton, Gig Harbor and Port Orchard.

There, the contest between Democrat Emily Randall and Republican Marty McClendon has already attracted nasty political ads.

Democrats also hope to put in play the seats of Republican Sens. Joe Fain, of Auburn, who is being challenged by Mona Das in the 47th District, and Doug Ericksen, of Ferndale, who faces Pinky Vargas and Tim Ballew in the 42nd District.

Republican Doug Roulstone, meanwhile, is challenging Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, in Snohomish County’s 44th District.

And in the 48th District, Republican money is supporting Democrat and former Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom’s challenge against the Democratic Party’s choice, incumbent Sen. Patty Kuderer, of Bellevue.

Both parties meanwhile are targeting a slew of House races as they jostle for control of that chamber, which has been in Democratic hands since 2002. But Democrats have seen their large majorities of a decade ago dwindle to a 50-48 margin.

Will more women have a shot at the Legislature?

Washington has long been a standard-bearer for electing women to state and federal offices. With women as key contenders in this year’s congressional and U.S. Senate races, that reputation isn’t likely to be tarnished in Washington, D.C.

But after the Washington state Legislature made national headlines a generation ago for having the most women lawmakers in America, progress has stalled in sending more women to Olympia.

This year, a record number of women are running for the state House and Senate.

But some are running as challengers in seats unlikely to change parties, and others are running in crowded primary fields that will be winnowed down after Tuesday.

Will women see their representation increase in Olympia?